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Frequently Asked Questions about the Writing and Communication Center

1. What kind of help can you find at the Writing and Communication Center?

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?

During Fall 2021, the WCC provides in-person and remote consultations. For in-person sessions, you can find us at E18-233, 50 Ames Street. For remote sessions, you can find the Zoom link in the appointment in WCOnline.

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. What if you are late for an appointment?

If you know in advance that you will be late for an appointment, please email the writing specialist you are meeting with 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, you will be marked as a no-show, and we cannot guarantee that there will be time available for you on that day.

13. What is the Center’s cancellation policy?

If you know that you cannot keep an appointment, please cancel your appointment at least 120 minutes before 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.

14. 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 canceled and any pre-existing appointments for the next week are canceled. If you are a no-show a second time, your privileges will be withheld and all pre-existing appointments will be canceled 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.

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

No. Our instructional model is that we work with you face-to-face (in person or by Zoom) because this is the best teaching situation. We do not read your work ahead of time.

16. 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.