You’re Required to Go to The Writing Center. Now What?

Posted on: July 30, 2020 | By: Julia Bleakney | Filed under: The Writing Center, Visiting The Writing Center

Hi, I’m Aidan Melinson. I’m a Writing Center consultant, class of 2023, majoring in Creative Writing and minoring in Professional Writing Studies. I’m also an Elon College Fellow.


Sometimes, when I am required to do something, I immediately want to do that thing less, even if it’s something I want to do or had already planned to do like a household chore. It’s even worse if it’s something I didn’t want to do from the start.

The Writing Center is not immune to this aversion. Occasionally you might be required to attend a Writing Center appointment even if you think you don’t want or need to.

While there are reasons why you might oppose required Writing Center visits, they are times when they will happen, just like there are times when you are required to complete a writing assignment. So, I’m here to talk about how to make the best of this situation and to get the most out of it.

We Understand

There could be a few reasons why a Writing Center session might be required. Maybe the professor has offered some needed extra credit for a visit, or maybe the whole class is required to bring in the assignment.

As a student, I have been in both situations. Although initially I was not looking forward to my Writing Center appointments, by the time they were finished I felt better about the assignment and my standing in the class.

When the session started, I admit I was fairly distant; I just wanted to walk in and have the time skip to when I was done with the session and walking out. The consultant could tell I wasn’t fully engaged. She empathized with having to do something I didn’t want to, but she said we should still try to get work done.

We decided that if I had to be there, we may as well make use of the time instead of just sitting around awkwardly. Even though I initially did not want to be there, engaging with the consultant really improved my paper when it was worked on with a fresh set of eyes.

How to Make the Most of a Required Appointment

There are a few different ways you can both make the most of a required appointment:

  • First of all, remember that your consultant is a student too: they will empathize with your situation, perhaps acknowledging any reluctance you might feel in attending a required visit. They won’t judge you for feeling reluctant, either; they will understand your hesitation.
  • As a Writing Center client, try and meet the consultant halfway. It can be difficult to engage when you feel disinterested, but doing so is definitely worth the effort. If your topic is something you’re interested in, talking about your ideas can help you invest in the session as well help you feel more motivated to continue to work on the paper or project.
  • Taking a break during the session to talk about something unrelated to the paper or assignment to get to know your consultant is also a good strategy for engaging in the appointment. It’s a lot easier to put in the effort when the consultant is no longer a total stranger, so spending a few minutes in the beginning of the session to get to know each other can go a long way.

Once I decided to make the most of my appointment using these strategies, I found the time moved by much faster than when I had been disengaged. In addition to making the appointment move more quickly, I left the session feeling more confident in my writing and better prepared to submit it with the suggestions and feedback I had received.

No one likes being made to do something. But even if you have to be at the Writing Center, talking with a trained peer in the Center is always an invaluable tool if you’re willing to let it help. So even if the session is required, why not make the most of it?


Muriel Harris. (2000). “Talk to Me: Engaging Reluctant Writers.”  A Tutor’s Guide: Helping Writers One to One.


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