Department of Neuroscience
Lake Forest College
Coming into college as a science major, you don’t really expect to spend a large amount of your time pouring over the computer writing papers. Yet, somehow, I ended up spending most of my time doing just that because, compared to most schools, Lake Forest places a large emphasis on writing. In fact, each student is required to take at least one writing intensive course—even if you may think your future career has nothing to do with this skill. The reality of the matter is that no matter what career path you choose, having the ability to communicate through writing will always be important.
I took my first writing intensive course first semester freshman year, and right away, I found out how important the Writing Center was for my transition from a high school writing level to where I needed to be. While many writing-intensive courses require or recommend that students come into the Writing Center, I found myself using it independently as well. Later that year, a professor recommended me for a position as a writing tutor, and the positive experiences I had with my writing tutors encouraged me to apply for the job.
As a science major, I worried that it would be difficult for me to assist students in other majors. Yet, I found that helping someone outside of my major with their writing could actually be more interesting. It allows me to get an outside perspective, which is helpful in most papers. This also forces students to be able to understand their topic well enough to be able to explain it to someone who may have little to no knowledge of their topic. More interestingly to me, as a tutor I get the ability to learn about topics I may otherwise never know about. This is not to say that I do not love knowing that someone is coming in to work on a science paper or lab report. Having experience through my courses, I have grown accustomed to the language necessary for scientific papers. This definitely makes it easier for me to read and understand these types of papers, but it is not necessary. Any tutor is more than capable of helping a science student.
Students come to the Writing Center throughout all stages of the writing process, and depending on what stage students are in, writing tutors are able to focus on different issues, not just grammar. We can brainstorm ideas, outline a paper, strengthen the central argument of the paper, make sure that the assignment is being addressed, go over the paper’s organization, or focus on more sentence-level issues. In some cases, students find it helpful to just come in, read their paper aloud to someone else, and get a second pair of eyes to help improve their paper. Students are also given the opportunity to work consistently with one tutor throughout the semester in standing appointments. Even as a tutor, I still find it beneficial to stop by the Center and talk my ideas over with another tutor.
Working at the Writing Center has really taught me that there is a great deal more to writing then just grammar, and this experience has allowed my writing to grow. Each semester that I spend as a tutor, I find my writing style evolving and my skill increasing. No matter how long I work on my own skill, I know that I will always have more to learn, but helping others with their writing helps me improve as well. Other than improving my own skills, this job offers numerous benefits that are difficult to truly describe. The best part about tutoring is the reaction of the student being tutored. As a tutor, I get extremely involved in the writing process, and when I see a student suddenly grasp an idea or understand their argument, I cannot help but get excited— I love seeing the light bulb click. As I leave Lake Forest, I know that my experience as a writing tutor will stay with me for years to come, and I strongly believe that any science major interested in writing should consider working at the Writing Center.
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Articles published within Eukaryon should not be cited in bibliographies. Material contained herein should be treated as personal communication and should be cited as such only with the consent of the author.