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Frequently Asked Questions

Below, you'll find some of the most common questions (and misconceptions) that have come up over the years in conversation with faculty and students. If you have additional questions, we invite you to email Kristina Reardon.

For Students

Who can use the Writer’s Workshop?

Any 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 work with essays, seminar papers, lab reports, literature reviews, and almost any genre of writing you can think of. If you are writing words on a page, we can work with you.

How can I make an appointment?

Register for a free online appointment any time of day! Walk-ins are taken on a first-come, first-served basis. To ensure fair access to the Workshop's resources, students may only schedule one appointment per day. At the busiest times of the semester, we may ask you to restrict your access to three appointments a week for the same reasons. 

How do sessions work?

Sessions are 30-45 minutes each and begin on the hour or half-hour. Your consultant will begin by asking you to explain your writing assignment and will have a discussion with you about where you are in the process and what your writing 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 your consultant will spend the rest of the session discussing the things that you'd like to work on in your paper. Come prepared to be an active participant! Expect your consultant to ask open-ended questions and to guide you toward developing your ideas more fully. While editing for style and grammar is important in the latest stages of writing (and consultants can certainly help with this if you are at this stage of the process), most sessions focus on more global issues such as organization, logic, developing an argument, and transitions, among other topics. At the end of the session, your consultant will help you set a plan for revision and will type up this plan in a session note. You'll receive a copy of the note via email, and if you'd like, the consultant can CC your professor to let them know that you've been to the Workshop. 

What can I expect to get out of my session?

You can expect to come out of 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 papers; in fact, we welcome you to do so! Papers can't be magically fixed in one 30-45-minute session, and students who work steadily over the course of several days or weeks see the biggest improvements in their writing.

How can I make the most of my session?

Come prepared to talk about your writing and your writing assignment--at any stage in the writing process. If you have writer's block or just aren't sure how to start your assignment, we can help you brainstorm ideas and create an outline. If you have a draft but aren't yet feeling confident about your work, we can read it with you and discuss things like organization, your thesis statement, transitions, citations, and more! If you've been working on your draft for several weeks and feel like you want to discuss ways to polish your prose, we can be your sounding board.

What type of writing can I bring to the Writer's Workshop?

If you're writing words on a page, we'll work with you! We regularly work with Montserrat papers, as well as a range of papers from English, History, Political Science, Philosophy Economics, Religious Studies, Music, and every subject across campus that you can imagine--including the sciences. You're also welcome to bring in cover letters or personal statements, too.

General Questions

Where is the Workshop?

The Workshop is located both online and on the second floor of the Dinand Library next to the Debate Room.  

When is the Workshop open?

Sundays 4-10 pm; Mondays - Thursdays 10 am - 1 pm and then 4 - 10 pm; Fridays 10 am - 1 pm. During finals weeks, hours are more limited due to peer consultants' own exam schedules. 

Who are the consultants?

Consultants come from a variety of majors--not just English! They are recommended by faculty from across the College and are trained by the associate director in a semester-long course, English 387: Composition Theory and Pedagogy. The peer consultants at the Workshop help guide writers through the writing process and on developing good writing habits. Our focus on the writer and his/her process has helped many students on campus improve their writing over time. 

What is your policy on consulting on take-home or essay exams?

If the word EXAM is anywhere on the prompt, or the student introduces the assignment as an exam of any kind, the student must have permission to seek outside assistance. We recognize that some faculty want their students to improve their exam writing by visiting the Workshop, while 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. The Writer's Workshop will always send the faculty member a session note to let them know a student has had outside help on an exam. This is the only time that sending session notes is not optional. If students have questions about whether or not they are allowed to seek help, we encourage them to ask their professors before booking an appointment.

For Faculty

Can a consultant come to my class to discuss the Writer’s Workshop with my students?

Yes! Consultants from the Writer's Workshop are prepared to visit your classes to introduce the Workshop and answer questions about the writing process. Please fill out this form or contact Kristina Reardon, Associate Director of the Center for Writing.

Will consultants help me grade my students or evaluate my students’ writing and report back to me?

No. Consultants are allies in guiding students through the writing process rather than co-instructors. They will never grade papers, nor will they tell students that they will receive a certain grade on an assignment. They primarily work with students on higher-order concerns, such as brainstorming, organization, thesis statements, transitions, among other topics. They are not allowed to copy-edit students’ work for them but can definitely help students who are in the later stages of drafting improve their style or grammar. Your student will always have the pen in their hand, and the consultant will be a sounding board for their ideas and will help guide them toward appropriate resources.

I received a CC of a session note. What do I do with this?

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 if and 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. Faculty have used these notes in the past for a variety of purposes, including: as a conversation starter in an individual meeting with students; as a way to develop future class discussions and/or lessons after seeing what their students understand and do not understand about their writing assignments; as a way to gauge whether or not a particular student needs additional guidance; and as a way to measure student effort. One more note: we keep students' appointments with consultants confidential unless students ask us to do otherwise; you'll only receive a session note if your student requests that you receive one, and we cannot send you one without your student's permission. 

Can I refer English language learners to the Writer’s Workshop?

Of course! We welcome the opportunity to work with English language learners. They are welcome to schedule a regular 30-45-minute appointment with a peer consultant in the Writer’s Workshop, but we also keep professional consultants on staff. We know that learning to write academic prose can pose unique challenges to those who speak English as a second, third, or even fourth language. You may refer your students to the online schedule, to the Workshop during its normal operating hours, and/or to the professional consultants Sam Garrity or Aaron Derr directly.