BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — The Writing Center is expanding its services beyond the walls of Illinois Wesleyan University, with
additional online workshops and one-on-one tutoring sessions aimed at IWU graduates
and high school students alike.
Led by IWU student tutors from all years and majors, the Writing Center has served
as a long-standing resource for students looking to improve their writing skills.
Located on the first floor of The Ames Library, it provides a welcoming space for
students to discuss current assignments –– Gateway essays, senior research papers,
internship applications and more –– with peers who are trained to offer support and
Now, the shift to online tutoring during the COVID-19 pandemic has opened up new opportunities
to connect with writers beyond campus. Assuming her position in the fall of 2019,
it wasn’t long before Director of the Writing Center Anna Scanlon, who has a doctorate
in transatlantic literature and medical humanities, found herself revamping the Writing
Center’s typical layout when COVID-19 closed its physical doors during the spring
of 2020. Online appointments, increased social media outreach, and campus-wide Zoom
workshops kept the Writing Center connected to current students –– and a few returning
faces as well.
“It was clear to me that once our IWU students graduated, they often didn’t know how
to replace the Writing Center resource,” explained Scanlon. “So, it seemed logical
to let them know they didn’t have to. We’ve got the skills, and the space now that
we’ve upgraded our system to offer virtual appointments, to help any of our writers
who need it.”
Virtual writing workshops on topics such as cover letters and personal statements
have consistently attracted alumni, who often schedule individual follow-up appointments
with a Writing Center tutor. So far, most alumni engagement has come from recent graduates
applying to graduate school, which means many of them have ties to current tutors
from their undergraduate days. Working with alumni also gives tutors the opportunity
to develop their tutoring styles further and catch a glimpse of what waits beyond
In maintaining alumni connections, the Writing Center serves as a reminder that Illinois
Wesleyan students are supported by the University beyond graduation. “We hope that
if students see that they’re not just part of the University for four years, but instead
for much longer, they’ll be more willing to come back for events and more appreciative
of the experiences they get,” said Scanlon.
The Writing Center’s expanded services also include offering assistance with college
application essays to high school students. This outreach program, which is currently
in development, provides students with valuable guidance from tutors who have experienced
the college application process.
Increasing access to the Writing Center demonstrates that everyone is on a journey
to become a better writer, from high school juniors drafting their first application
essays to full-fledged adults pursuing their careers.
“We hope that those students who worry about using tutoring services––thinking they’re
only for “bad” students––will see that even graduates come back to take advantage
of all the help they can get to achieve their goals. We believe this program can go
a long way in removing the remedial stigma from tutoring.”
For more information or to register for a workshop, please email Director of the Writing
Center Anna Scanlon: firstname.lastname@example.org.