Writing Center helps with all forms of writing

By SARA BERTSCH Managing Editor

Students at SDSU don’t need to worry about poor sentence structure, verb disagreements and wrong word forms when they seek help from the Writing Center located in Briggs Library.

“We are all about the students being better writers and feeling more comfortable in the work they are doing in the University,” said Nathan Serfling, the Writing Center coordinator.

According to Serfling, the center has been on campus for quite some time and was originally started in the basement of Scobey Hall in the mid 1990s. From there it moved to the Wintrode Student Success Center and, finally, to its new location in Briggs Library 103 last March.

“It gives us a lot more visibility … and they are coming in with some more regularity,” Serfling said.

Provost Laurie Nichols was a key factor in moving the center to its new location in Briggs. She took it upon herself to give the center more visibility and setting up a new resourceful space for students.

“I am very excited about the new writing center with expanded hours and services to all students,” Nichols said. “It is a wonderful resource and I hope many students will use it.”

Students who use the center can receive help with all sorts of writing projects. This includes cover letters, resumes, job applications, composition essays, entrance exams and anything else, Serfling said.

The only things the center won’t do is proofreading or editing. Serfling refers to those as “dirty words,” as the goal of the center is to help students become better writers and not just correct the text.

“I’d like to see the Writing Center live up to its name and be the center of writing in the university; where it’s not just the students who come in, but faculty for workshops and those sorts of things too, more wide-reaching institution,” Serfling said.

The doors are open to anybody — including international students, undergraduate and graduate students, faculty — whoever needs to utilize the center. 

Jamie Nagy, a tutor at the Writing Center, spends several hours a week at the center helping students of all backgrounds with their writing. Nagy and the other tutors work with a lot of students with diverse backgrounds and different language skills and abilities.

“I help them with grammar, sentence structure, content, format… Basically whatever they need. I don’t just fix it and send it back, I work with the student to hopefully help them learn as we edit and change, etc.,” Nagy said.

A majority of the tutors are graduate students, but undergraduate students majoring in English with a junior or senior standing are able to peer tutor starting this semester.

“We try to align ourselves with IMPACT 2018 and the vision of the university. One of the core elements of that is being student centered and that’s exactly what we are,” Serfling said.

Students can make appointments online, calling the center or stopping in. Appointments are not required as students can walk in, but they are not always guaranteed help on the spot. Most of the time it depends on tutor availability.

During finals weeks, the center is usually closed as the tutors have their own coursework to complete.

At the beginning of each semester, the center tends to be less busy but it picks up as the term goes on.

“After about week five or six, we stay pretty steady throughout the semester. Last semester, from week 10 to the end of semester, we didn’t have any more openings,” Serfling said.

Ultimately, the center’s mission is to help students succeed in the writing they are doing in the school. In the future, the center hopes to create some group tutoring sessions. Serfling is also looking into online tutoring and how the center can help students online.

Nagy, and the entire Writing Center, find that writing is very important for students now and in the future, after leaving SDSU.

“It’s becoming more and more important…” Nagy said. “Because of our culture and screen time, writing is a valuable skill. Engineering students who leave here with an engineering degree, with course credit, campus and their communication with prospective employers who can write well can set them apart from others. That is true of every field.”

A typical tutoring session will last about 50 minutes, depending on how busy tutors are and the schedule.

“I tell my students if you just come in, you will get a better grade,” Nagy said. “And it’s free.”