About the Writing Center
The Writing Center’s main office is located on the lower level of the Student and Academic Services Building North (SASB). Go to the SASB website for directions and parking information. The Writing Center also has a satellite office in Greenlaw Hall, Room 221.
During the fall and spring semesters, the main Writing Center in SASB is open 9-8 Monday-Thursday, 9-4 Friday, and 5-8 Sunday. The satellite office in Greenlaw 221 is open during the daytime only; hours vary, so use “Make an Appointment” to see when openings for tutoring are available at Greenlaw. Summer hours vary; call 962-4799 for information.
Yes. Both of our spaces are accessible by elevator.
Both graduate students and undergraduates serve as tutors in the Writing Center. Tutors come from departments across campus and receive extensive training from the Writing Center directors.
Nothing. Writing Center services are free.
The Writing Center offers different services to different groups of writers on campus. To learn more about what is available to you, see “Who can make an appointment?” below. Generally, instructors are pleased when students come to the Writing Center. We abide by the Honor Code of the University; since the sessions focus on giving you feedback on your writing, rather than editing or writing for you, coming to the Writing Center does not raise any Honor Code issues. You must ask your instructor for permission before coming to the Writing Center to work on a take-home essay.
No. Our tutors cannot help you with writing in languages other than English. Check with your instructor to find out whether there are resources to help you with compositions for foreign language courses.
While everyone is welcome to use the Writing Center’s online handouts and demos, our tutoring services are available only to current students, faculty, and staff of UNC-Chapel Hill. Do not make an appointment to discuss someone else’s writing or submit someone else’s draft to the Online Tutor. If your friend or family member might be interested in working with a Chapel Hill-area writing tutor or editor, please refer him or her to our “Help for Hire” listing.
We welcome all kinds of questions about writing. If yours is a quick one focusing on a particular sentence, word, or punctuation mark, try calling the Grammar Hotline at 962-7710.
We are glad to hear about your interest in joining our team! At this time, the Writing Center does not have any full-time or part-time staff positions available. If you are an experienced teacher or editor, you may submit a request to be listed on our Help for Hire advertising page. Graduate student tutors are teaching assistants; they are hired through a competitive process each spring to work for the following academic year. During periods when we are accepting applications, you’ll see a position announcement on our homepage. Undergraduate students can also serve as tutors; they must first enroll in English 402 and then apply to be hired. Undergraduate students who have workstudy funding can apply to serve as office assistants. Office assistants answer our phone, greet clients, make photocopies, and help with a variety of other tasks. The Writing Center does not accept volunteer tutors to work with UNC students. If you might be interested in working with high school students, contact us about our Write On program.
All degree-seeking undergraduates at UNC-Chapel Hill may make appointments for individual tutoring; so may graduate students and faculty, as availability permits.
Yes. When you make an appointment you have the option of choosing a particular tutor. All tutors are trained to help you with any of your writing needs or concerns. Check out our staff page for more information about our tutors.
You need a valid UNC ONYEN to make an appointment. We cannot make an appointment for you over the phone. If you do not have an ONYEN or the system will not accept it, contact Onyen Services at onyen.unc.edu.
At some points in the semester, the Writing Center’s calendar can fill up as much as two weeks in advance. If you cannot find an appointment time that works for you, here are your options:
On the on-site appointment calendar login page, choose “Cancel an Appointment.” After canceling the appointment you no longer want, you can click “Make an Appointment” to look for a new appointment time. You may want to check to be sure another appointment is available before you cancel the one you currently have reserved, as our calendar is sometimes very full.
Although you (and only you) can cancel until right before your scheduled appointment, we prefer that you cancel at least 24 hours in advance so other students have the opportunity to make an appointment. If you absolutely cannot get to a computer to cancel, please call (919)962-7710 to let our staff know that you will not be at your appointment.
You will be entered into the database as a “no-show” for that appointment. If you fail to show up for several appointments, your future appointments will be cancelled, and you will be required to meet with the Writing Center Assistant Director before resuming use of Writing Center services.
At 10 minutes after the hour when your appointment was supposed to start, you will be entered as a no-show and your tutor will be reassigned.
Appointments in the Writing Center are 50-minute conversations with a tutor about your writing. The tutor will read through your paper with you, answer your questions, and work with you to strengthen your paper and your skills as a writer. You and the tutor may discuss any aspect of your writing project or process.
You can bring any sort of writing to either the online or onsite Writing Center. We give priority to academic work, but we also can provide assistance with application essays, grant proposals, or other writing. If you are working on an honors thesis, master’s thesis or dissertation, you should plan to schedule multiple on-site visits and focus on parts of the longer project.
Writing Center tutors will discuss your writing assignments with you and make suggestions on approaching a topic, organizing a paper, developing your style, or correcting recurring errors. Tutors may also direct you to other resources for further assistance. Tutors will not edit or proofread a paper or write any part of your paper for you.
Yes. If you are an undergraduate who is working on an assignment for a course, as part of our services, the tutor will (with your permission) send a conference summary to your instructor. This report describes what you and your tutor worked on during your session (e.g. “Maria and I talked about the focus of her paper on the breast cancer scare and how she might reorganize the first and sixth paragraphs to strengthen her argument. We also discussed the difference between passive and active voice.”). Conference summaries let your teachers know that you have taken the initiative to improve as a writer; they do not evaluate you, your assignment, or your teachers in any way. Most instructors are delighted to learn that you have visited the Writing Center. Your teachers see your work here as a sign that you are a productive, conscientious student who knows the value of good writing skills and who has the wisdom to make use of this resource.
For take-home exams, some instructors specify whether you may or may not bring your work to the Writing Center. If this issue is not explicitly addressed in the prompt, we depend on your sense of whether the instructor has recommended the Writing Center or would condone a visit for take-home exams. Since your instructor will know from the conference summary that you have been here, it is your responsibility to make this determination. If you have any questions about whether it is appropriate to get feedback from the Writing Center on take-home exams, ask your instructor before you bring in your paper or submit it online.
Current students, faculty, and staff can submit drafts to the Online Tutor. Submissions by students in the College of Arts and Sciences that are related to academic projects (courses, theses, and dissertations) will receive priority. During busy times, we may not be able to respond to all submissions before their due dates. You must be affiliated with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to use the Online Tutor. If you are a non-UNC educator or technology professional and would like to see the forms students fill out when they submit drafts, please contact us.
No. Tutors respond to submissions on a fixed schedule. If you want to work with a particular tutor, please set up an on-site appointment.
Not long. Filling out the submission form and attaching your draft will probably take about 15 minutes.
In order that our tutors may serve as many people as possible, we limit individual services (appointments or Online Tutor sessions) for undergraduates to a maximum of one per day or two per week (whichever comes first). Graduate students, faculty, and staff are limited to one individual visit or Online Tutor session per week.
To provide time for the tutor to read your paper and provide a thoughtful response, we limit page length to 10 pages. If you have a lengthy paper, particularly a thesis or dissertation, make an appointment at our on-site Writing Center. You are also welcome to submit troubling excerpts or paragraphs to the Online Tutor.
Log into the Online Tutor and click on “My Submissions.” You can change your answers in any of the text boxes. If you need to attach a different file, use the Browse function to find the file you want to attach. Select it and click “Open” in the dialog box. The filename should now appear in the “Browse” box on your online submission page, but it will look like your old file is still attached. Hit “Submit,” then go back to “My Submissions” and look at the submission again. You should see that the new file has replaced the old one and that any answers you changed have been updated. Changing your submission is not possible once a tutor has claimed it and begun to work on it; if you need to speak with us about a submission at that point, call us at 962-7710.
That depends on how busy we are when you submit your draft. When you submit your paper to the Online Tutor, the weather report will tell you how full our queue is and when you should expect a response; in most cases, it is likely to take one to three business days. Please note that we are open for only a few hours on the weekend, and we have face-to-face appointments during most of those hours; weekend submissions are not likely to receive a response before Monday. When demand is particularly high, we may not be able to serve you in time for our comments to be useful; if this is the case, we will write to you and let you know.
You will receive notification by email that your paper is ready. Make sure you have entered your email address correctly on the submission form. If you have entered an incorrect email address, you will not be notified that a tutor has responded to your submission.
Return to the Online Tutor page, click the “On-line Tutor” link and enter your Onyen and password, then choose “My Submissions” from the menu that appears. The most recently submitted paper will be at the top of the list.
Sure. Return to the homepage, click the “On-line Tutor” link and enter your name and password, then choose “My Submissions” to view your personal archive.
Only you and the Writing Center staff. When you first enter the system and complete a profile, you create a corridor of restricted access to our system. That corridor allows you and the staff at the Writing Center to interact and maintains space for us to hold your work for you in the Writing Center. Upon your first visit, we will establish a personal archive for you which you can review at any time. All work with the Writing Center takes place within the guidelines of the University Honor Code.
Like onsite summaries, online summaries are sent to your instructor following a conference. Like onsite summaries, they do not evaluate you, your instructor, or the assignment in any way. They describe your concerns and the tutor’s suggestions to you regarding the paper. Most instructors are delighted to learn that you have visited the Writing Center. Your teachers see your work here as a sign that you are a productive, conscientious student who knows the value of good writing skills and who has the wisdom to make use of this resource. Online summaries are sent to the instructor when the tutor finishes responding to your paper; they are archived on this site. You can see the conference summary for each submission on the page where you retrieve the tutor’s comments.
We help individuals improve as writers. To this end, we focus on helping writers to develop skills no matter what their writing context. We help writers to make their own choices about a text rather than “fixing” papers for them. We don’t write on students’ papers; we counsel students about the choices they have as writers.
The Writing Center serves all members of the University community: undergraduate and graduate students, staff, and faculty. Students who work with a tutor see improvement in their writing and feel better prepared for courses that require written work. Students may visit the Writing Center occasionally with questions about specific assignments or meet regularly with a tutor to improve their writing habits. They often visit with concerns about developing arguments, organization, evidence, and sentence-level issues.
A full-time director, an assistant director, two ESL specialists, and a group of graduate and undergraduate students with special training in teaching writing staff the Writing Center. The tutors come from departments across campus and have been selected because they are good teachers. Tutors are trained to respond to writing assignments from across the curriculum. You are welcome to stop in at any time to get acquainted with our staff and services.
The Writing Center offers free, one-on-one help with all aspects of writing at any stage in the writing process. To make an appointment, browse the Writing Center’s online resources, or submit a draft online, please visit www.unc.edu/writingcenter. The main Writing Center office on the lower level of the Student and Academic Services Building is open for appointments Monday through Thursday from 9:00 AM until 8:00 PM, Friday from 9:00 AM until 4:00 PM, and Sunday from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM. There is also a satellite office in 221 Greenlaw Hall. To make the best use of your time, please bring a copy of your assignment with you. The Writing Center will not proofread papers or talk with you about grades. Many students find visits to the Writing Center well worth their time.
When a student visits the Writing Center, his or her tutor asks permission to write a brief summary of the conference and emails it to you. These summaries do not evaluate the student; they let you know the issues your student and his or her tutor discussed. Most professors are pleased to see that their students have taken the initiative to improve their writing skills.
Yes. The Writing Center directors are happy to meet with you; you are welcome to request a consultation.
No. While we support your efforts to encourage students to examine and improve their writing skills, we cannot support required visits to the Center. This policy derives from both practical and pedagogical reasons outlined below. If you’d like to discuss this policy, contact the directors.
No. While awarding extra points may give students extra incentive to visit, our past experience indicates that most make appointments simply to get the points without intent to improve as writers. Students who make these perfunctory appointments crowd out other students who have actively and independently chosen to get help from using our services.
No. Writing Center visits cannot replace course-related activities or requirements. Writing Center work supplements and complements course instruction. We know you are busy, but so are we!
No. Even though you may have the best of intentions, requiring a student to use the Writing Center often backfires. If students are not ready to seek help, they will not be likely to receive it when they get here. Singling a student out may appear punitive and discourage other students in the class from seeking help from the Writing Center. Promoting the service to the entire class will make it easier to personally encourage individual students when needed. You can strongly recommend that students make an appointment, but we caution against compelling them to visit or involving the Writing Center in a grading issue. If you’d like to discuss ways to encourage a particular student, feel free to contact the directors for options.
No. Students view this form of encouragement as punishment or arbitration and often resist learning more about writing in these circumstances. If you’d like to discuss ways to encourage a particular student, feel free to contact the directors for options.
Yes. The following options may provide new avenues for you to direct your students to Writing Center services and help them improve as writers. If you’d like to discuss your particular students, assignments, or your students’ writing issues, feel free to contact the directors.
No. Writing Center staff members will not discuss scores or grades or make evaluative comments about assignments or papers during appointments.
Undergraduate students can have two appointments per week (although they may not schedule two appointments on the same day). Students sometimes elect to make weekly standing appointments over the course of a semester.
Yes. Graduate students may schedule one appointment per week. Graduate students in the professional schools must schedule their sessions on a same-day basis.
Yes. Ideally, students working on overall writing improvement or a large writing project should work with a tutor once a week.
Yes. Many students do. Students may have a maximum of two appointments per semester for personal statements.
Yes. Students may make a group appointment if they are working on a group assignment.
Yes. We rely on students to ask their instructors whether or not they may bring take-home exams to the Writing Center. If you do NOT wish your students to receive feedback from a Writing Center tutor on a take-home exam, please make that explicit when you distribute the exam.
No. We do not provide editing or proofreading services, and students may not drop off a paper and pick it up later with corrections. We can, however, teach students to edit and proofread their own work more effectively.
Students do not need to have a completed draft before they make or attend an appointment. Encourage students to make and keep appointments regardless of how far along they are in the assignment.
The Writing Center is a unit of the Center for Student Success and Academic Counseling. As such, the following populations have priority for ESL services: full-time UNC undergraduate students, graduate students, and Study Abroad exchange students. In addition, if space is available and the service is appropriate, we are happy to welcome postdoctoral scholars, continuing studies (part-time) students, faculty, and academic staff. The workshops are also open to visiting scholars. We are not able to offer any services to non-academic staff (including custodial staff), spouses, students at other universities, and members of the general public. The Writing Center’s individual tutoring policy can be read here.
*ESL = English as a Second Language; this term covers all non-native speakers of English, both international students and US citizens/residents for whom English is not the (only) first language.
Sorry, no. The Writing Center does not have the resources to serve spouses of UNC students, scholars, faculty, and staff. However, please see this list of other opportunities.
Sorry, no. The Writing Center serves current students, scholars, and faculty only.
For more information about applying to UNC as an international student/scholar, please contact Undergraduate Admissions, the Graduate School, the Business School’s MBA program, the Study Abroad Office (exchange programs), or the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. For information about visas, contact International Student and Scholar Services.
You can find intensive ESL programs to prepare for graduate study in the U.S. on these websites: The American Association of Intensive English Programs, or University and College Intensive English Programs. There is no full-time, year-round intensive ESL program in the Triangle area of North Carolina (Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh). However, there are short-term programs at Durham Technical Community College and North Carolina State University.
The Writing Center offers non-credit ESL mini-courses. There are no undergraduate ESL classes at UNC. There are two ESL classes for graduate students through the English Department. The Graduate School runs the Preparing International Teaching Assistants Program (PITAP), which helps ITAs prepare for their role as classroom or lab instructors by improving their English pronunciation, cross-cultural communication and teaching skills. (You do not have to be a teaching assistant to enroll. Postdocs and visiting scholars may be able to audit a course.) Please contact your school or department to check if they have writing classes or courses for international students.
All full-time, degree-seeking students can use on-campus Writing Center tutoring. Please read the access policy. For more information, please email the Writing Center or call 962-7710. Students and postdocs who are non-native speakers are strongly encouraged to join a writing group for specific help with their language needs.
Nothing. Writing Center services are free to UNC students, scholars, and faculty.
Most ESL services take place in the Writing Center, Lower level (basement) of the Student & Academic Services Building (SASB) North (directions).
View Writing Center in a map
Greenlaw is the English Department’s building in the center of campus. Find the Davis (Main) Library, the Student Stores, or the Student Union. They border the area called “The Pit.” Stand in the Pit with your back to the Student Stores, facing Lenoir Cafeteria. Greenlaw is the building in front of you and to your left. (Or ask any student in the Pit for directions!) Room 221 is the Writing Center’s satellite space on the second floor, between the English department offices and classrooms.
If you do not have an ONYEN because you are a temporary scholar or employee, please email us with your name, UNC affiliation, and the workshops you’d like to attend. To get your ONYEN, please visit ONYEN services.
Please read the Writing Groups page for full details. There are sign-up periods at the beginning of every semester. If you are a new participant, you must sign up in person. If you have already been in one of our writing groups, you can just email us. You may contact us if you can’t attend any sign-up sessions to make alternative arrangements.
If you can form your own group of 4-6 students, please contact us at any time, and we will try to facilitate your group.
No. We will help you develop the skills you need to be successful at Carolina, including writing, grammar, and proofreading. The Writing Center has a Help for Hire board with people you can pay to edit/proofread your writing.
Yes, please! We want to hear what you need. Please email email@example.com with your suggestions.
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