The USC Writing Center is a student-centered, non-grading facility that exists to help students to become better writers. The Writing Center employs graduate students to work on a one-on-one basis with writers, helping them at any stage of the writing process.
Our goal is always to facilitate learning, not simply to polish up a paper. We are not editors, and we do not provide any aid or assistance that would compromise the student’s authorship of the paper. Nor do we assist students with take-home exams without a professor's permission.
We do not collaborate in the writing of papers. However, we do help students understand how writing is a collaborative activity because it involves an audience. That audience may be an instructor, a peer group, a supervisor at work, or the readers of a newspaper. The job of the Writing Center is to help writers focus on audience and construct arguments that will appeal to it.
The Writing Center can’t succeed without the active involvement of the university’s faculty. Learn about what we do. Encourage your students to use us. Provide us with feedback about what we are doing right and where we can improve.
The Writing Center is a non-judgmental, supportive environment where writers and consultants work together at all stages of the writing process, from getting started on a topic to reviewing a draft of a nearly completed essay. Many writers come to the Writing Center to talk about a topic before they have written anything at all.
One of the main functions of the Writing Center is to provide a place where writers and writing consultants can sit and talk about writing. Writing consultants are specially trained to work with students at all levels, both native and non-native speakers of English.
In a typical Writing Center consultation, consultants focus on global areas of writing before addressing sentence-level problems. Unless the paper is unusually well-developed or this is not the first visit with this particular paper, writers will be encouraged to work on thesis development and organization before working on spelling, punctuation, or grammar.
After the writer has worked on global, rhetorical issues, or if a writer absolutely demands to work solely on sentence-level problems, the writer and the consultant will move on to tasks of editing and proofreading. The consultant will identify recurrent problems and suggest solutions. The consultant may “correct” a paragraph or two, explaining the nature of the corrections, and then ask the student to use them as a model in finishing the paper.
Whether on a global or sentence level, the purpose of a consultation is to identify aspects of a paper that need further work by the student. For this reason, papers will leave the Writing Center unfinished and not free of errors.
Consultations are 30 minutes, and students may spend time with a consultant on a daily basis up to five times per week. A record of each consultation is generated for each student visit. At the student’s request, notification of the visit is sent to the student’s instructor.
The Writing Center conducts small-group workshops for students in a wide range of writing skills. Each week there are two or more different one-hour workshops offered at various times. A schedule of current workshops is listed here: Spring_2014_Workshop_Schedule.doc
The Writing Center has a large selection of printed materials that address topics such as comma problems, sentence fragments, paragraph development, MLA and APA documentation for library research papers, and so on. These are on display and free to students who wish to use them.