Frequently Asked Questions

Below, you'll find some of the most common questions (and misconceptions) that have come up in conversation with faculty and students over the years. If you have additional questions, we invite you to email us by visiting our "Contact Us" page.

General Questions

The Workshop is located in Dinand 217, which is on the second floor of the Dinand Library next to the Debate Room. Online sessions are also available (see below).

Sundays 4 pm - 9 pm; Mondays through Thursdays 10 am - 9 pm; Fridays 10 am - 1 pm. During finals weeks, hours are typically a bit different due to peer consultants' own exam schedules. The Workshop is closed during academic breaks.

Consultants are Holy Cross students of diverse majors. They understand what it's like to be a student but also receive excellent preparation to become consultants. They come recommended by faculty from across the College and are trained both through regular professional development and by taking a semester-long course called Composition Theory and Pedagogy.

We recognize that some faculty want their students to improve their exam writing by visiting the Workshop, whereas others encourage more independent work and might actually consider seeking outside help a form of academic dishonesty. It is incumbent upon students to know which is the case for each take-home or essay exam on which they are working.

If you receive consulting on a take-home exam, the Writer's Workshop must send your instructor a session note to let them know. This is the only time that sending session notes is not optional. If you have questions about whether or not you are allowed to seek help, we encourage you to ask your professors before booking an appointment.

We do! Although we welcome in-person appointments, we realize they are not always convenient or possible, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Please see our guide for booking and attending online sessions.

If you are feeling ill, even if you have recently received a negative COVID-19 test result, we ask that you do not come into the Workshop. Instead, you are welcome to move the appointment online. It's also possible we may need to move your session online because a consultant is feeling ill.

Masks are currently required for all students and staff who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19. In addition, students and staff must wear a mask for at least five days after a known COVID-19 exposure. If you would prefer that the consultant you are working with wear a mask during your session, you can note this when you schedule your appointment, and we would be happy to accommodate this request. If the consultant you are working with requests that you wear a mask, please do so. (We have disposable masks available in the Writer's Workshop if you forget yours.)

We periodically disinfect surfaces, and we have hand sanitizer available near the entrance to the Workshop.

These policies are subject to change based on evolving conditions of the pandemic.

For Students

Any Holy Cross student! The Writer's Workshop is a valuable resource for students of all majors, disciplines, and levels at Holy Cross. Students in disciplines from English to Biology to Political Science have found the Workshop helpful. We consult on personal statements, research papers, and lab reports, but also presentations and multimedia projects. As long as you would benefit from getting feedback from another person, we can help!

Book an appointment through our online scheduler! Walk-ins are taken on a first-come, first-served basis. To ensure fair access to the Workshop's resources, students may schedule only one appointment per day. At the busiest times of the semester, you should try to book an appointment a week or so in advance to ensure you can find a convenient timeslot.

Sessions are 45 minutes each and begin on the hour. A consultant will begin by inviting you to describe your project and assignment and then ask where you are in your writing process and what your goals are. If you have a draft, expect your consultant to ask you to read it out loud. This practice allows the consultant to understand what your paper is about and gives you a fresh perspective on your writing, as well as a chance to raise specific questions. From there, you and the consultant will spend the rest of the session discussing the aspects of your assignment that you'd like to work on. Come prepared to be an active participant! Although editing for style and grammar is important in the late stages of writing, most sessions focus on more global issues such as organization, argument, and audience expectations. At the end of the session, the consultant will help you set a plan for revision and will type up some notes that recap your conversation. You'll receive a copy of the note via email and, if you'd like, the consultant can also send a copy to your professor to let them know that you've been to the Workshop.

You can expect to leave your session with a revision plan that you developed in conjunction with your consultant—and with some fresh ideas for moving your writing forward. It's not uncommon for students to come back to the Workshop more than once with their projects; in fact, we welcome you to do so! Writing projects can't be magically "perfected" in one 45-minute session, and students who work steadily over the course of several days or weeks see the biggest improvements in their writing.

Book appointments well in advance of the assignment deadline; it's okay if you don't have a full draft at that point. On the intake form when you book your appointment, write a detailed description of what you're working on and what, specifically, an outside reader could help you assess in your own work. Jot down some questions you want to ask the consultant, and prioritize which parts of your project you'd like to focus on (this is especially important for long projects). Show up prepared to discuss your writing at length and to make some serious changes to it. For longer or more high-stakes projects, make multiple appointments.

For Faculty

Yes! Representatives from the Writer's Workshop are available to visit your classes to introduce the Workshop and answer questions about the writing process. Please fill out a scheduling form or contact Gabe Morrison, the Assistant Director of the Center for Writing.

No. Consultants are allies in guiding students through the writing process. They are not co-instructors or teaching assistants. They will never grade papers, nor will they tell writers the grades they think projects should receive. They primarily work with students on higher-order concerns, such as brainstorming, organization, thesis statements, and transitions. They are discouraged from copy-editing students’ work.

One of our guiding principles is to ensure that students feel ownership of their writing. This means that consultants take care to avoid depriving students of learning opportunities by doing work for them.

Consultants work with students to develop revision plans at the end of their sessions, and after students leave, consultants write up a brief summary of the plan and of the topics they discussed. The note allows you to see when your student visited the Writer's Workshop as well as what was discussed and what your student's plans are as they move forward with revisions. In the past, faculty have used these notes for a variety of purposes, including: as a conversation starter in individual meetings with students; as a catalyst for developing future lesson plans; as a tool for assessing what students understand and do not understand about their writing assignments; as a way to gauge whether a particular student needs additional support; and as a way to observe student effort. One more note: we keep students' appointments with consultants confidential unless students ask us to do otherwise; you'll receive a session note only if a student requests that you receive one, and we cannot send you one without a student's permission. 

We welcome the opportunity to work with all students, including multilingual students. Like other students, multilingual students are welcome to schedule a 45-minute appointment with a peer consultant in the Writer’s Workshop or with one of our professional tutors. Working with a professional tutor may be especially appropriate if students wish to work with the same person on a regular basis.

Although we invite you to encourage all of your students to use the Writer's Workshop, it is not appropriate to require that multilingual students make appointments with the Writer's Workshop. It is also not realistic to expect that brief meetings with consultants will suddenly enable students to achieve the same level of fluency as those for whom English is a first language. The Center for Writing can consult with you to develop expectations for student writing and help you better support multilingual students in your classes as well.

Please don't. Writer's Workshop sessions are far more productive when students choose to be there themselves. In addition, we may not have the capacity to consult with every student in a large class, especially at busy times in the semester when many other assignments across the curriculum are also due. If you think a required visit is appropriate or would like Writer's Workshop consultants to support your entire class in some other way, please contact Gabe Morrison, the Assistant Director of the Center for Writing (see also below).

Yes! One way is through our Writing Fellows program, where we partner an experienced Writer's Workshop consultant with a Holy Cross course for part of or an entire semester. Fellows collaborate with faculty to help students develop good writing habits. They meet with the faculty member on a regular basis, attend some classes, and meet with students from the course. They are not teaching assistants, and they cannot assess students or grade assignments. To learn more or to participate in our Fellows program, please send an email to centerforwriting@holycross.edu.