Frequently Asked Questions about the WCC@MIT (the Writing and Communication Center)

1. What kind of help can you find at the WCC@MIT?

You may consult the WCC’s lecturers about all types of writing and oral presentations, including but not limited to:

  • papers written for any MIT course
  • papers for any CI (Communication Intensive) or CI-M (Communication Intensive in Major) course
  • scientific and technical writing
  • essays for graduate school applications
  • resumes and CVs
  • business and professional letters
  • personal essays
  • undergraduate theses
  • graduate theses
  • articles for publication
  • proposals for grants, books, etc.
  • conference papers
  • oral presentation practice
  • slide design
  • pronunciation practice
  • interview practice
  • conversation practice
  • fiction
  • poetry

You may consult the WCC during any stage of the thinking or writing process: prewriting (generating and exploring ideas), writing a first draft, revising a draft, or editing. You may consult the WCC before submitting a paper for a grade or after receiving a graded paper that you would like to revise. Some of the more common problems are: overcoming writer’s block, organizing papers, revising one’s work, documenting sources, analyzing a writing assignment, and presenting scientific information.

2. Does the WCC provide advice about oral presentations?

Yes. At the Center you can receive advice on:

  • how to prepare and write a speech or conference talk
  • how to use visual aids
  • how to design effective slides
  • how to present scientific or nonscientific information

3. Does the WCC provide a chance to practice oral presentations?

Yes. You may practice any type of oral presentation and receive feedback from the WCC’s lecturers Among the types of oral presentations we help you practice are:

  • presentations for classes (e.g., CI classes)
  • presentations of your research
  • job talks
  • practice speaking up in class discussions
  • conference talks

4. Does the WCC help non-native speakers of English?

Yes. The WCC provides specialized help to those for whom English is a Second Language (ESL). Our lecturers can help with ESL problems with writing and speaking. We offer the opportunity to practice English pronunciation as well.

5. What occurs during a consultation at the WCC?

When you arrive at the WCC, we will ask you what kind of writing or oral presentation you want to discuss.

If you have a written assignment, we’ll analyze it with you, and then we’ll discuss your ideas and/or your paper. We will ask you what most concerns you about the assignment or the paper.

Although we do not proofread or edit papers, we will work individually with you to explore the strengths and weaknesses of your document. We will show you techniques and strategies for solving any problems, and we will explain pertinent rules and conventions for the kind of writing you have been assigned.

We will provide thoughtful advice and suggestions and ask questions to stimulate further exploration of ideas.

The WCC also offers individual oral presentation sessions. Anyone may make an appointment to practice giving an oral presentation. We will give feedback and suggestions about the performance aspects (e.g., eye contact, gestures, rate of speech, articulation, voice projection), about the organization of the presentation’s content, and about the effectiveness of the visuals.We will help at any stage of the oral presentation process–e.g., developing ideas, writing the speech or oral presentation, developing useful visuals.

6. When should I visit the WCC?

Usually the best time to visit the WCC is near the beginning of the writing or creation process. We can help you discover and explore ideas, we can discuss organizational strategies, and we can help with questions about documenting evidence and data.

7. How should I prepare for a consultation in the WCC?

The more you know about what kinds of help and advice you need, the more you can accomplish in a session. Here are some tips that will help you get the most from a session in the WCC.

  • Make an appointment at the WCC ahead of time to guarantee yourself a spot.
  • Select an appointment date several days before the assignment is due, so you will have time to incorporate our suggestions and perhaps even have time for a second consultation.
  • Establish your own goals for the consultation before you come to the WCC. Think about the kind of help you want from us. For instance, do you want help discovering more ideas for your paper, do you need help organizing the ideas, or do you want to learn the rules for using punctuation?
  • Bring your assignment or writing task with you. The more information you give us about the task, the more focused our advice can be. Similarly, if you’re writing an application essay, it’s a good idea to bring along the application form so we can examine the question(s).

8. How long is an appointment slot?

Appointments are scheduled for 50-minute periods on the hour (e.g., at 10 a.m. or at 2 p.m.).

9. How do I make an appointment?

As of March 30, 2020, the WCC provides remote consultations only. When we return to our offices, you can find us at E18-233, 50 Ames Street.

For complete instructions about remote consultations, see mit.mywconline.com.

To make an appointment, go to the WCC’s home page: mit.mywconline.com

  1. For the first visit: Click on Register for an account and follow the directions.
  2. On the Online Scheduler, the white spaces indicate available appointment slots.
  3. Click on any white slot, fill out the information requested in the pop-up window, and save.

10. How do I cancel an appointment?

  • To cancel an appointment, go to the WCC’s home page: mit.mywconline.com
  • Go to the Online Scheduler
  • Click on the appointment slot which you wish to cancel. Click Cancel this appointment.

11. Is there a limit to the number of appointments you can make?

You may make two appointments each week, with up to 3 scheduled appointments at any one time.

12. Is there any way to consult with the Center more often?

Walk-in client: You may be a walk-in client only if you are already registered with the WCC’s online scheduler.

Unlike an appointment client, a walk-in client is not guaranteed a consultation. The walk-in depends entirely upon the availability of one of our WCC lecturers.

Check the scheduler just before going to the WCC since someone might have seized the appointment at the last minute.

If there is not an open appointment slot but the scheduled client has not appeared by 10 minutes after the hour (e.g., by 10:10 a.m.), you can be a walk-in client.

The best way to be a walk-in client is to sign up for the Waiting List (by clicking the Waiting List link in the lower right-hand corner of each day’s block of appointments). Any time there is a cancellation, you will be notified.

Remember, though, that in the time it takes you to get to the WCC, someone else might have gotten on the scheduler and made an appointment in that spot.

Alternatively, you can go to the WCC at 5 minutes past the hour (e.g., 11:05 a.m.). If the appointment client has not appeared by 10 minutes after the hour (11:10 a.m.), then a WCC lecturer will work with you until at least half past the hour (11:30 a.m.). If the appointment client comes late, the lecturer will stop working with you at half past the hour and give the last 20 minutes of the appointment slot to the person who had the original appointment (the reason is that we want to help as many clients as possible and because clients can often be delayed through no fault of their own). If the appointment client does not appear, then the lecturer will work with you until 10 minutes before the hour (e.g., 11:50 a.m.), thus finishing the appointment slot.

If you come to the WCC hoping to be a walk-in client and find all of our lecturers working with someone, then there is no availability for that hour. Please do not interrupt a session to ask if anyone is available.

13. What if you are late for an appointment?

If you know in advance that you will be late for an appointment, please call (617-253-3090) and we will reserve the remaining portion of your appointment for you. If you are more than 10 minutes late for an appointment without notifying the Center, your appointment slot might be given away to a walk-in client, and we cannot guarantee that there will be time available for you on that day.

14. What is the Center’s cancellation policy?

If you know that you cannot keep an appointment, please cancel your appointment by going to the online scheduler. We very much appreciate your canceling as soon as you realize that you cannot keep an appointment. This policy allows the greatest number of clients to have appointments.

15. What is the Center’s “no-show” policy?

A no-show is someone who misses an appointment without canceling it ahead of time. No-shows inconvenience other potential clients.

The first time you are a no-show, your appointment-making privileges are automatically cancelled and any pre-existing appointments for the next week are cancelled. If you are a no-show a second time, your privileges will be withheld and all pre-existing appointments will be cancelled for a month. If you are a no-show a third time, you will lose your privileges for a month or for the rest of the semester, whichever is longer. As with all our policies, this policy exists so that the greatest number of clients as possible can receive advice. A no-show prevents someone else from having that appointment slot.

16. Is it possible to submit a paper to the Center electronically?

No. Our instructional model is that we work with you in person because face-to-face is the best teaching situation. We do not read them or proofread them ahead of time.

17. Is it possible to make suggestions and comments about tutoring sessions?

Certainly. We are always interested in your questions, comments, or suggestions. After each consultation, you will be asked to complete a short evaluation form and to place it in our locked survey box. You may also contact the Center’s director at writing-center@mit.edu.