Kyle Dalton - Last Day of English 260
Kyle Dalton – Last Day of English 260

This article was written for the March 13, 2017 edition of CLC’s campus newspaper, The Chronicle, by Kyle Dalton, staff writer and peer writing tutor.  Though written almost a year ago, it gives a good overview of our mission and services.

With the spring semester in full swing at CLC, the tutoring center is a-buzz with students seeking help. For anyone having trouble with those tricky personal narratives, research papers, or transfer applications, look no further; The Writing Center is here to help!

No matter whether you’re struggling getting started or just want someone there next to you to help finalize the last details, tutors are available to help guide you in your writing process. Students have a large range of options on where and when they can go if they want some help.  Any hoping to revise, rework, and get some one-on-one time with a tutor are in luck. The CLC Writing Center offers writers one-on-one assistance at the Lakeshore, Southlake, and Grayslake campuses

“Sessions do always start with the writer filling out the Session Agenda Sheet and the tutor having a conversation with them about why there are there and about the writing they are bringing in with them,” said Jennifer Staben, Faculty Coordinator of CLC’s Writing Center since 2001. “Most sessions also begin with a discussion of the assignment the writer is working on and sometimes a read through of the assignment sheet,” Staben said.  From there, the tutor and tutee will decide who will read aloud the assignment that was brought in. This verbal reading often reveals many distinguishable areas with issues.  “This process is important as it allows the writer and the tutor to focus on the draft together in real time,” Staben said.

To best prepare yourself, it is highly suggested you bring all materials related to your assignment, including the assignment sheet, additional readings, and any work you have produced for the project so far. One of the greatest benefits of the center is that even if you have no work done, tutors, or “coaches” as Staben calls them, are more than happy to have a brainstorming session with you.

“Students gain a lot by just talking to a tutor about their assignment, how they went about writing their drafts, and what they know about the content of their writing,” said Kim Voss, a former peer tutor of the writing center, now Writing Center Coordinator, “Tutors are guides to help students move along from one draft to the next.”

One big taboo in the center is the perception that it is a “drop off” station or that the tutors will simply edit work while students patiently wait for the results. “We try really hard to make sure students don’t just think of us as ‘grammar checkers;’ rather, we would like to be known as knowledgeable readers who ask questions of the writers,” Voss said.

Writing Centers offer a plentiful and diverse opportunity for students to explore their work by spending time with an equally diverse set of tutors–diversity, not only in age, gender, ethnicity, and background, but also in major, involvement in campus activities, and specificity of tutoring.

The center offers a wide range of both peer (student) tutors to Tutor 3’s, tutors with bachelor’s degrees and beyond, including specialists like Christina O’Connell & Patricia Eney. These CLC adjunct faculty both focus on ELI (English Language Instruction). “I started tutoring in the CLC Writing Center in both English and Spanish and developed a love for working with a diverse crowd,” said O’Connell. “It was really a springboard to my current position.”

From Collette Ruscheinsky Robinson, mother of two and CLC and Colombia College alum, to Sam Khan, an Iowa State graduate now preparing to apply to law school, the range of tutors is all over the map.

For those looking to to work with a tutor, drop-ins at all campuses are always welcome. For specific tutors, times, and during those stressful and busy midterms/finals weeks, appointments can be made face-to-face or by phone.

For those looking to work as tutors, the center recruits their staff both based off of professor recommendations but also via a student-focused advertising campaign.  Application packets are sent out to potential tutors in May and interviews are conducted in June for the next academic year. Anyone looking to get involved should discuss their interest with their professors or contact Staben and Voss directly.

New tutors are required to enroll in English 260, a course designed by Staben to help ready writers for their new coaching role, as well as give them a place to discuss their sessions and develop new understandings of language and what it means to tutor. Tutors have the ability to be reimbursed for this course and in this writer’s opinion, will be in for one of the most well-crafted and fun courses at CLC.

The Writing Center is an eclectic and wonderful space for writers of all backgrounds, levels of skill, and stages of process to better themselves in their craft. The center not only enriches the learning experience of students but also of those guiding them. As a tutor myself, I can say the benefits of working with such a diverse crowd have been many, and I hope to continue to see the Center flourish under the wonderful lead of both Staben and Voss.


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