Writing Support

 

At the StAAR Center, we approach writing as inherently collaborative and recursive. We believe that writing is an ongoing, lifelong learning endeavor and that writers benefit from discussing their writing with a discerning and compassionate reader. We aim to demystify academic writing and engage writers in a more robust process. 

You can meet with us during any stage in your writing process: from brainstorming and organizing ideas, to drafting and working through ideas, to revising and reorganizing, to editing and polishing on the sentence level. We will work together to strengthen and refine your argument, clarify and organize your ideas, deepen your analysis, and develop your writing style and process. We can also demystify citations and disciplinary conventions.

Whether you are a first-year undergraduate starting your first college paper or a doctoral candidate finishing your dissertation, our goal is to help you feel confident about and engaged in your writing.  

Book a Writing Appointment on Tutor Finder!

More About Writing Support

  • Graduate students: See our dedicated Graduate Student page for more about graduate writing consultations, weekly writing groups, graduate writing retreats, and more StAAR support!
  • In addition to the projects below, we also offer a Writing Fellows Program for specific writing-intensive undergraduate courses.
  • Meet the Writing Consultants!
First-Year Writing

We can help with the transition from high school to college writing. Our consultants are familiar with the expectations of the classes that fulfill the first-year writing requirement.

Writing for any Class

Your development as a writer doesn’t stop outside of English class or after the first or even the second year of college. Each new year, class, discipline, or project brings new challenges and learning opportunities. Writing is situational; it can change depending on the audience, situation, discipline, or genre. Using a process-based approach, we can help you better understand the expectations of different disciplines.

Multilingual Writers and International Students

We are dedicated to helping you develop your voice and ideas. Our writing consultants are also trained to answer questions about diction, rhetoric, grammar, and word choice for greater clarity. We can demystify American academic expectations and essay structures. Our approach is focused on your choices as a writer: your paper always remains your own.

Senior Honors Thesis

Because longer projects such as a thesis can benefit from early and regular discussion of the overall structure, chapter outlines, and early drafts, we recommend ongoing meetings with the same writing consultant. Through the Senior Writers Action Group (SWAG), we offer workshops specific to the senior thesis (such as developing a thesis writing process, using citation management software, writing in STEM fields, and preparing for your defense), as well as our popular weekend thesis write-ins, which provide dedicated blocks of focused writing time. SWAG programming information is emailed directly to senior thesis writers and updated on the StAAR events page as often as possible.

Personal Statements

Personal statements are a unique and challenging genre of writing! Whether you’re applying for law school, medical school, graduate school, grants, fellowships, or scholarships, or other opportunities, we can help you develop and revise your personal statement. If you are a current Tufts student, please make an appointment through Tutor Finder. Tufts alumni can have up to two appointments for personal statements. Alumni do not have access to Tutor Finder, so please email us with the answers to the following questions:

  • What type of personal statement are you working on?

  • What is your deadline?

  • Where are you in your process, and what are your main concerns?

  • What is your general availability to meet for a synchronous virtual session?

Using Sources

Our writing sessions offer a safe space to develop strategies for incorporating outside sources into your writing, such as properly integrating quotations, paraphrasing effectively and appropriately, and citing accurately. 

Policies
  • Appointments are limited to one session per day, three sessions per week, and 16 hours of writing tutoring per semester. Contact us if you have questions.
  • You must give us at least six hours' notice if you need to cancel an appointment. If you cancel with less than six-hour notice, it is considered a no-show. After two no-shows, Tutor Finder will not allow you to make another appointment. At that point, you must contact the program director, Kristina Aikens, to discuss your options.
  • In order to work on a take-home exam, you must present written permission from the professor, which can be provided in the syllabus, assignment sheet, or an email.
  • Do not make an appointment for another student or bring another student's paper to a writing tutoring session. Violating this rule may result in a suspension of services. Please contact us if you or a friend is having trouble making an appointment or is close to hitting the appointment limit and we will find a solution!
  • In the case of group writing projects, one student may make the appointment but the entire group should attend, unless you have split up the writing and only want to work on your own section of the paper.

 

Position Statements

Our commitments to anti-racist writing engagement and to inclusive language are elaborated in the following position statements, which were developed in collaboration with our writing consultants and writing fellows.

Statement of Anti-Racist Practice

As professionals and student employees dedicated to assisting writers, we recognize that the proliferation of the English language, both written and spoken, has long been used as a tool of colonialism and white supremacy. As a diverse group, in addition to educating ourselves about this history, many of us have personally experienced and been shaped by linguistic racism ourselves.

In our roles as writing assistants, in an effort to combat this systemic injustice, we commit ourselves to the following:

  • We prioritize understanding how white supremacy has influenced academia generally and academic writing specifically in our WF and GWC training.

  • We respect every writer’s right to their own language (see Students’ Right to Their Own Language), and we celebrate and advocate for linguistic diversity.We understand so-called “Standard English” as a myth and refuse to conceptualize it as apolitical. We will not serve as gatekeepers of the English language.

  • When we encounter oppressive language or rhetoric, we will address it thoroughly with the writer, discussing any conscious or unconscious bias underlying the language

  • We will regularly reflect on our own writing experiences and identities as writers, --to confront our own biases and assumptions related to our writing and our work as writing assistants.

Students' Right to their Own Language

For too long, American schools have forced students to conform to a style of speaking and writing that adheres to white, middle/upper-class expectations. Many students have learned to code-switch, using different language at home than at school. This practice has endangered some languages altogether and has resulted in students losing both language skills and confidence in their own expression. 

While we emphasize the importance of considering one’s genre, audience, and rhetorical situation in writing, we simultaneously support each student’s right to use their own language. We support the practice of code-meshing, in which writers combine traditional academic language with dialects of English, non-English languages, written “accents,” and other variations. Code-meshing in scholarly writing has existed since at least the 1970s, and we crave further expansion of academic language. We assist writers in making their own rhetorical choices, even if those may not adhere to traditional expectations. More broadly, we honor the writer’s agency in writing, even as we acknowledge the complex power structures that influence that writing. Our goal is to help students revise thoughtfully, through informed choices about their writing, rather than to enforce any one mode of communication.

 
Inclusive Language (including statement on pronoun use)

As writers, we are aware of the power of language to oppress, and we strive to make our own language use as inclusive as possible. We recognize the important work of feminist, LGBTQIA, anti-racist, and disability activists in changing language norms and raising awareness of sexist, gender-exclusive, racist, ableist, xenophobic, transphobic, and other oppressive language. We defer to each individual’s pronoun choice. We encourage use of singular they, in opposition to some style guides, because people are more important than grammar -- and because the malleability of language has been and should be a form of resistance to oppression. 

Through attempts to understand and educate, not shame, we as writing assistants commit to addressing oppressive language in student writing and helping writers to become aware of both unconscious and conscious bias in academic research and writing. We specifically commit to addressing oppressive language that does not directly affect us or our identities, in an attempt to lessen the burden for our colleagues who are directly affected, and we reserve the right to end conversations that seek to harm us deliberately. We aim to increase empathy and awareness as well as reduce the prevalence of oppressive language.