Our Top 5 Reasons You Should Try the Virtual Drop-Ins

Thursday, July 2, 2020
by Stephanie White (she/her/they/them), Writing and Multimodal Communication Specialist, Peer Tutor Programs

If you want immediate answers—from a real human being—to all your writing and communication questions, then it’s time to try our virtual drop-ins! The peer tutors who staff our drop-ins provide quick, real-time encouragement and feedback as you understand and plan your assignments, organize your ideas, practice your presentations, create your visuals, or clarify your wording. 

Our current team of peer tutors have been working with us since before we went virtual in March, and they’ve seen all kinds of assignments come through the drop-ins, from lab reports to work term reports, podcasts to slide decks, critical analyses to creative pieces, and first-year research papers to doctoral dissertations.

As the coordinator of our peer tutors, I know firsthand how smart, knowledgeable and caring they are. And I’ve witnessed the ways they’ve helped students like you to brainstorm ideas for a paper, sort through assignment instructions, refine bullet points on a resume, and confirm that citations are correct.

Our current team of peer tutors—Olivia, Chris, Maša, Rachel, and Graeme—helped me identify the top five reasons that students love coming to see them. Here they are! 


1. Drop-ins are super convenient.

Drop-in appointments are available when you need them—Sunday through Thursday evenings—on a first-come, first-served basis. And you can sign up for a 25-minute session whether you have one quick question or want to talk for the whole time. As Rachel put it, “booking WCC appointments when your schedule is already busy can seem like one task too many. Since drop-in appointments don't need to be booked in advance with a set goal, there’s more freedom. You can freely move between tasks and come with troubleshooting questions rather than one set project.” Whether you want to make a plan for a major assignment or just check some citations before you hit submit, we are available to help at the drop-ins. 


2. Drop-in peer tutors can help you get unstuck.

We can work with you right in the moment when you’re stuck. If it’s 8 pm, and your assignment’s due at midnight, and you don’t know how you’re going to get it done, then popping in for a quick session with a sympathetic and experienced peer tutor can help you make the plan of attack you need in that moment. On the other hand, if you’ve got two weeks to work on your assignment, but you’re not sure where to start, peer tutors can help you sort out your plan. As Graeme says, “many writers really seem to appreciate being able to discuss their assignment or struggles in a calm, encouraging dialogue. Identifying their strengths, sympathizing with difficulties, and working with them to sort out a manageable plan of action are all ways that we help writers feel more confident about their work and what they need to do next.” No matter how you’re stuck, we can help you figure out your next step.


3. Drop-in peer tutors give you another perspective on your writing.

If you, like every single other writer out there, sometimes wonder if what’s in your head is coming across on the page, then drop-ins are the way to go. As Olivia puts it, one of the most common reasons people meet with her and the other peer tutors is “having a second set of eyes to help spot problem areas they didn’t notice themselves.” We might read your work quickly, then tell you what we think, or we might even ask you to read your writing aloud so you can hear it fresh. Either way, talking through your work can be a game-changer. Graeme explains it this way: “the most common request I see is writers asking whether their writing ‘makes sense.’ Once we get talking, they seem to really appreciate my perspective as a reader and hearing about how I experience their writing.”

Even if your writing lands perfectly and you decide you don’t need to revise it, just sharing it with someone outside of your class can be encouraging and exciting. As Chris says, “people love being able to have their thoughts, words, ideas affirmed outside of the particular classrooms for which they were produced. We can help students meet their goals of connecting their voices to wider and wider audiences.” 


4. Peer tutors understand how hard writing is.

There’s no getting around it: writing is hard. Whether you’re writing a short reflection, creating slides and a script for a formal presentation, putting data into a fancy graphic, or crafting the perfect Tweet, writing is not easy. At the drop-ins, the peer tutors get that. Our undergraduate tutors can relate to what you’re working on since, as Olivia describes it, they’ve “completed the same types of assignments and projects recently and are familiar with professors’ expectations.” Even our graduate student tutors struggle, and they’re ready to commiserate with you on your assignments. As Chris puts it, “‘the pros’ have all the same messy, disparate writing (and thinking!) processes as you do, and that is okay and valid!” Our peer tutors love sharing their strategies for getting through tough writing moments. For example, Maša likes to walk students through “techniques like reverse outlining or concept mapping” to tackle revision problems. Whatever you’re struggling with, we’ve been there, and we’ll help you through it. 


5. Peer tutors are students just like you.

It can be scary to share your writing with people, but since the drop-ins are staffed by students, you can rest assured that they get where you’re coming from. Our peer tutors are undergraduate and graduate students from a variety of majors who have been trained to help you. Graeme tells me that, “being able to meet with a fellow student and discuss deadlines, how the term is going, and difficult past assignments can make the process less intimidating for students.” And peer tutors love what they do and are excited to meet with you because, for them, this is more than a job—it’s a learning experience. Chris says, “Writing, revision, and learning are a dialogue. Tutors learn just as much as tutees in sessions, and visitors of our services get to see that in real-time.”

So what are you waiting for? Book an appointment tonight! Here’s how.