FAQs for Undergraduates

Undergraduates can find answers to frequently asked questions about the University Writing Center below.

  • When are you open?

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    During the Summer 2021 semesters, the UWC is completely virtual. Undergraduate students can schedule consultations through the WCOnline website.

    Zoom appointments are available Monday through Thursday, May 5 - August 11 for the summer semester.

    Written feedback is available daily May 5 - August 9 for the summer semester.

    We are closed each day the University is closed:

    • Monday, May 31: Memorial Day
    • Sunday, July 4: Independence Day
    • Monday, July 5: Independence Day Observed
  • What happens during a consultation?

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    During a Zoom appointment, you will share your writing with your consultant on screen, describe it, and tell them any questions or concerns you have with about it. The consultant will work with you to address your questions and concerns and give you advice to help you improve your writing.

    During a written consultation, you will upload a Microsoft Word file or share a Google Doc and tell the consultant, through the appointment form, what you would like them to focus on as they review it. The consultant will read through your questions and concerns, and through your assignment sheet and rubric (if you have uploaded them) before commenting on your paper using the software's reviewing function. The comments could take the form of

    • questions (these often show areas where content is unclear);
    • explanations of suggested edits;
    • suggestions for improvement; or
    • resources that would be helpful to use as you finish the paper.

    Consultants will not proofread or edit your paper (that's your job!), but they can point out errors, particularly if those errors are repeated throughout the paper. You will receive your paper back in an email (either as an attachment or a link) with the consultant's comments.

  • How do I schedule a consultation?

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    Go to the EMU University Writing Center WCOnline website. Undergraduate students can schedule either Zoom appointments or written feedback consultations once you have an account with us. For more detailed instructions, see our Using WCOnline web page.
  • I just tried to register for WCOnline and it says I already have an account but I never set one up. What do I do?

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    Don't worry! If you've used the University Writing Center in the past, we set up an account with your name for data-keeping purposes. Undergraduate students are now allowed to take control of their own accounts. Just follow the instructions in the second half of our Registering for WCOnline PDF handout.

  • I'm trying to schedule a consultation but don't understand the questions on the form. Can you help?

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    The "Create New Appointment" form has several questions that are explained below:

    Course Prefix (if not for a course, choose "Non Coursework")

    The "course prefix" is the letter code in the name of your course. For example, nursing courses begin with "NURS"; this is the letter code. If what you are writing is not associated with a course, you would choose "Non Coursework."

    What level is the class?

    The "level" is the number code in the name of your course. For example, if you were taking Nursing 275, your number code would be 275, which is a 200 level class. You would choose 200 from the drop-down menu.

    Who is your instructor?

    This is the name of the instructor teaching the course.

    What are you writing (for example, an essay, an annotated bibliography, a research report, a reflection, etc.)?

    What you are writing is the genre of the piece. If you are working on a course assignment, the name/title that the instructor gave the assignment would be helpful to put here, unless it is generic (like "assignment 1"). If it is generic, naming the type of writing it is, like in the examples above, would be useful: is it an essay? An annotated bibliography? Etc.

    What stage of writing are you in?

    • Brainstorming
      At this stage, you probably have not begun to write and may want help understanding the assignment, thinking of a topic, coming up with a thesis/argument, thinking through what will need to be in your paper, etc.
    • Rough draft
      At this stage, you may have jotted down some ideas and a few sentences, or written quickly without much thought to organization, research, etc. You have something written, but nothing formal, and are aware that it needs a lot of work. Or, you may have quite a bit of your draft written but not completed (e.g., it may not have conclusions or a solid introduction).
    • First draft
      At this stage, you have a complete draft finished but have not done anything with it after completing the draft. It needs to be revised at the higher level: How effectively, and completely, does it respond to the assignment? Is your purpose for writing clear? Is your writing focused—does your draft have a good organization and structure? Does your draft have a clearly defined audience, with an appropriate diction and style for that audience?
    • Second (or later) draft
      At this stage, you have a complete draft that you have already checked for higher level concerns (see "First draft") and are ready for revisions at the mid-level: Are the paragraphs, sentences, and transitions developed and organized? Are the sources integrated usefully and purposefully into your writing? Have you made a clear distinction between your own ideas and other authors' writing? Could your wording be more direct, efficient, or precise?
    • Final draft
      At this stage, you have a complete draft that you have already checked for higher (see "First draft") and mid-level (see "Second or later draft") concerns. You are ready for revisions at the later level and are preparing to "publish" your draft, whether that means to submit it to your instructor for a grade or publish it online, etc: Do your subjects and verbs agree? Are commas used consistently and correctly? Are the in-text citations correctly formatted? Is word usage accurate (e.g., their/there/they’re; its/it’s)?

    What citation/formatting system, if any, are you using?

    A "citation/formatting system" is a set of rules that describes how you should cite sources within your text and in your reference list (or bibliography). These rule sets often also set rules for line spacing, font types, page numbering, etc., or "formatting" your paper. Examples of these are MLA (Modern Language Association) or APA (American Psychological Association) formatting. Instructors often require students to use a specific citation/formatting system. At other times, instructors give students options between types of citation systems.

    What do you want help with?

    • Understanding the assignment
      Check this box if you would like help understanding your assignment requirements or rubric, or would like to be sure you are meeting your assignment requirements. Be sure to upload your assignment and/or rubric for the consultant. If your instructor gave you a PDF, copy and paste the contents into a Word or Google document to upload it (you cannot upload PDFs in WCOnline).
    • Developing ideas
      Check this box if you would like help developing a thesis or line of argument, developing useful examples, or developing other content for your writing. Our consultants won't do the writing for you, but they will help you think through how to develop it. If you are in the "brainstorming" stage of writing, you will probably check this box.
    • Organization and structure
      Check this box if you would like help organizing your writing into sections, using headings, writing paragraphs that use topic sentences, and/or transitioning from one topic to another. People often refer to this as the "flow" of the paper.
    • Incorporating evidence
      Check this box if you would like help using source materials in your writing in a way that supports your own arguments, rather than echoing others' arguments. This involves paraphrasing and quoting source materials and is often necessary in research papers, argumentative essays, annotated bibliographies, etc.
    • Style/voice/tone
      Check this box if you would like help choosing the appropriate words and "jargon" to use in your paper, and deciding whether or not things like active voice, passive voice, contractions, or slang or appropriate. Choosing an appropriate style, voice, and tone is often dependent on the audience of your writing, so it will be helpful for consultants to see your assignment requirements and/or rubric if you choose this option.
    • Citing sources using a citation system
      Check this box if one of your main concerns is whether you have correctly formatted your in-text citations and reference list (or bibliography).
    • Formatting the paper correctly
      Check this box if one of your main concerns is whether you have correctly formatted your paper—title page, page numbers, running heads, section headings, etc.—according to the rules of a specific citation system (for example, APA 7e).
    • Other
      Check this box if you would like help with something else. Be sure to describe what that is in "Additional comments for your consultant."

    Additional comments for your consultant

    Use this space to tell your consultant any "other" questions (see previous question) you have. You may also use this space to share a link to a Google Doc (be sure to set the sharing settings to enable a consultant to comment on the document).

    This schedule supports file attachments.

    If you are submitting a paper for a written feedback consultation, be sure to upload your Word or PowerPoint document when you create the appointment. Alternatively, you can share a link for a Google doc in the "additional comments" section (previous question). You may also upload your assignment requirements and/or rubric for your consultant's benefit.

    The timeline for returning your feedback will not start until the consultant has the document, and has commenting privileges on it.

    This system does not accept PDFs, so if you have a PDF you should copy/paste the text into a Word or Google document and then upload it.

  • I'm trying to schedule a consultation and upload my file, but it's not letting me. What's wrong?

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    The EMU University Writing Center WCOnline web site only accepts Microsoft Word documents, PowerPoint documents, and Google Doc links. If you are trying to upload another file type, such as a PDF, you will receive an error message.

    If you have a PDF you need to upload, you could do one of three things:

    1. Copy and paste the text into a Word or Google doc and attach it to the appointment.
    2. Take a screenshot of the text, put it into a Word or Google doc, and attach it to the appointment.
    3. Email the PDF to the consultant you made the appointment with and explain what it is for (the consultant's email address should appear in your appointment form).
  • Do you have in-person consultations during the Summer '21 semester?

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    No. We have two types of consultations available during the Summer '21 semester: Zoom appointments, and written feedback.
  • How often can I schedule consultations?

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    Undergraduate students may schedule two consultations per week.
  • How long are Zoom appointments?

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    Most Zoom appointments are scheduled for one hour; if you only have 30 - 45 minutes to spend, tell your consultant when your consultation begins.

  • Can I get a consultation today?

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    Monday through Thursday between 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., there are a few Zoom appointments available. You can make same-day Zoom appointments with available consultants up to 90 minutes before the start time.
  • How many pages can I submit for written feedback?

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    Consultants can comment on up to five pages (roughly 1,500 words) of text during a written feedback consultation. You may submit a paper that is longer than that, but will need to specify which five pages you would like the consultant to focus on.
  • When will I get my written feedback?

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    If you submit a paper for written feedback Monday through Thursday, your consultant will return it to you with feedback within 24 - 48 hours of the time you submit it. If you submit a paper Friday through Sunday, your consultant will return it to you within 24 - 72 hours. If a holiday or University closure falls within that time, add an extra 24 hours for every day the University is closed.


    Our system does allow you to upload a paper for written feedback a day ahead, if all slots on the current day are taken (for example, to upload a paper on Tuesday's schedule even though it is only Monday). If you do so, add 24 hours to your feedback time.

  • I got my paper back and don't see any comments. Where are they?

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    UWC consultants use the reviewing tools in the software program associated with your paper.

    If you submitted a Microsoft Word document and do not see any comments in the margins: 

    1. Open the document you received from your consultant.
    2. Click on Review to open the reviewing pane.
    3. Click on Show comments. This should reveal the comments your consultant made.
  • At what stage of writing should I schedule a consultation?

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    The sooner the better!

    You can schedule a consultation to help you with any stage of the writing process. This includes everything from understanding an assignment before you even begin writing to polishing a final draft. Don't wait until the day before the paper is due; it's best to give yourself time to make revisions between your consultation and the paper's due date.

  • My instructor wants proof that I've consulted with the UWC. How can I get that?

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    Tell your consultant and they can copy your instructor on the Summary Report email they'll send you after your consultation. You also have the option of forwarding the Summary Report email to your instructor yourself.
  • Can I only get consultations on class assignments?

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    No! UWC consultants can help you with more than your class assignments. Undergraduate students often consult with us on personal statements, graduate school applications, resumes, senior theses, medical school secondaries, and more. We've also consulted with undergraduates on personal writing like blog entries and poetry.
  • I'm a graduate student. Can I schedule a consultation?

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    Yes, but not through the EMU University Writing Center WCOnline website. Instead, use the UWCGS Writing Support form. You can find more information on our UWC for Graduate Students web page.

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