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General Writing Center FAQs

Do I need an appointment?

All face-to-face Writing Center tutoring takes place on a walk-in basis. No appointment necessary!

Why do I have to make the corrections on my own paper instead of having the tutor correct my paper for me?

It is your paper. Research shows that students who make their own corrections are more likely to remember what they have learned than students who have others mark up their papers for them. At the Writing Center, we want you to get a higher grade on the assignment you've brought to us, but more importantly, we want you to learn the concepts that will enable you to get higher grades on all your subsequent assignments.

Is there a charge for Writing Center tutoring?

All tutoring is provided free of charge (you are already paying for it with your tuition and fees, so you might as well come in and get your money's worth!).

How will my instructor know I came to the Writing Center?

Instructors receive an electronic feedback form sent directly to their email account.

What do I need to know when I arrive for a tutoring session?

You will need to be able to provide your 7-digit AACC Student ID, your instructor's name and your course number.

Is there a limit on the number of tutoring sessions I can attend?

Not at all. You are encouraged to bring multiple drafts of an assignment to the Writing Center.

Can I come for help with writing not related to a class?

Yes. Students frequently come to the Writing Center with essays or personal statements for transfer or scholarships.

What if I am not currently taking classes at the college?

Members of the public are welcome at the Writing Center.

Why do some sessions last longer than 30 minutes?

Most sessions last approximately 30 minutes. If there is no waiting list, tutors can extend sessions at their discretion.

Where can I print a copy of my draft or my assignment sheet?

You can use the computers and printers in the Technology Learning Center at Arnold or the computer lab at Arundel Mills. Computers in the Writing Center are exclusively for use by tutors.

Why does the tutor need to see my assignment sheet?

It is nearly impossible to help someone improve his or her writing without knowing what that individual is trying to accomplish.

What is proofreading, and why won't the writing center tutors proofread my paper?

Proofreading is going through ones draft to find typos and errors in punctuation, grammar, mechanics and usage. The assumption is that the writer knows how to avoid these errors. Proofreading is a student's responsibility, but tutors can teach students proofreading strategies that they can employ on their own.

If tutors won't proofread, how can I get help with grammar and mechanics?

Just ask! Tutors will be glad to help you locate errors in grammar, mechanics and style, and then teach you how to correct these errors.

How do I enroll in the Virtual Writing Center?

From any Canvas course, click on "Enroll in Virtual Writing Center" on the main navigation bar. "Virtual Writing Center" will appear in your course list. Follow the prompts to complete the Orientation Module and Readiness Survey and schedule an appointment. 

I have no idea what to expect in my tutoring session. What is it going to be like?

Skype with a whiteboard instead of a webcam. You and the tutor will talk to each other in real time using your computer's microphone and speakers (or your cell phone, if you prefer to teleconference into the session) while both of you can see your essay on the whiteboard. To view the tutoring environment, click on Blackboard Collaborate in the Navigation Bar, wait for available sessions to load, and click on New Student Test Session. Your tutor will go through your paper with you, making sure you understand how to improve the areas you identify as your priorities for seeking help.

What's the difference between the Virtual Writing Center and the Writing Center?

Both services are staffed by AACC faculty and offer the same high level assistance with papers in any course. Here are a few differences: Virtual Writing Center sessions take place online, while Writing Center sessions are held in person at our main campus (LBRY 136) or Arundel Mills (Room 204). Virtual Writing Center sessions are by appointment, while the Writing Center serves students on a walk-in basis. The Virtual Writing Center allows students to schedule an appointment with a research librarian for assistance with finding, evaluating and citing sources.

What's the difference between the Virtual Writing Center and Smarthinking?

Smarthinking is a corporate vendor, while the Virtual Writing Center was developed by AACC to serve our students. All VWC tutors are faculty who are familiar with AACC's courses, programs and resources. Another important difference is that Smarthinking's services are asynchronous: students email a paper to Smarthinking and receive comments a few days later. At the Virtual Writing Center, students work with a faculty member in real time, and rather than editing your paper for you, we teach you how to improve your writing. We're also able to answer any questions you might have and to make sure you understand the rules and reasons behind our suggestions.

Can I email my paper to a VWC tutor and get it back with comments?

At the AACC Virtual Writing Center, we want to talk to you and work with you in real time to make sure that you really understand the suggestions we are making. Smarthinking allows you to work by email, if that is your preference.

Do I need to go through the orientation and take the readiness survey each time I want to use the Virtual Writing Center?

Once you have completed the Orientation Module and earned 100 percent on the Readiness Survey, you always will have access to the scheduling application. To schedule an appointment, just click on Modules and choose "Schedule an Appointment with a Writing Tutor or Research Librarian." You will continue to have access to the Orientation Module for reference.

What if I don't get 100 on the readiness survey?

Review the Orientation Module and take it again! All of the answers are in the Orientation Module and students are permitted to make multiple attempts.

I think I made an appointment, but I didn't get a confirmation email. What's going on?

If you did not type your email correctly when you booked your appointment, you will not receive a confirmation email or have access to the cancellation link should you need to cancel. Email Jessica Rabin, Ph.D., at for information about your appointment. And be sure to type your email address carefully next time!

I need a lot of help. May I schedule several appointments at once? How about scheduling two appointments back-to-back or on the same day?

We're glad to provide you with as much help as you need. It is fine to schedule multiple appointments at the same time, but be sure that you have given yourself time to make revisions after each session. Be careful – students who schedule multiple appointments at once are more likely to forget about an appointment, resulting in an attendance warning and potentially loss of access to the Virtual Writing Center. Because students are expected to revise their work in accordance with the assistance they receive in each session, scheduling two Writing Tutor appointments back-to-back or on the same day is not permitted. (It is fine to schedule a Writing Tutor and a Research Librarian appointment on the same day.)

Can I use this site to schedule an appointment for in-person tutoring at the Writing Center in the library?

All in-person tutoring takes place on a walk-in basis. The scheduling link is for Virtual Writing Center online tutoring only.

I'm taking classes on campus. May I still use the virtual writing center for online tutoring?


I'm taking classes online. May I still come to campus for in-person tutoring?


What if I need to cancel an appointment?

When you book your appointment, you will receive a confirmation email which includes a cancellation link. Click on the link to cancel. Please keep in mind that cancellations must be made at least 24 hours in advance.

How do I access my tutoring session?

When it is time for your tutoring session, login to the Virtual Writing Center (login to MyAACC, click on Access my Courses, choose Virtual Writing Center from the Course menu). From the VWC main page, click on Blackboard Collaborate on the Navigation Bar on the left. Wait for available sessions to load and you will see a session with your name on it. Click on the purple arrow next to it. If this is your first time accessing Collaborate, you will need to download the Blackboard Collaborate Launcher; follow the prompts as provided. Be sure to login at least 10 minutes early to run your audio checks. The session also lists a Participant phone number and pin if you prefer to access audio through your cell phone.

It is time for my session and I can't get into the tutoring environment. What should I do?

First, say to yourself, "I knew I should have practiced entering the tutoring environment by trying the New Student Test Session. If I had tried this in advance and run into difficulties, I would have been able to get technical help during regular business hours, and I wouldn't be losing valuable tutoring time now!" Then check the email account that you entered when you booked the appointment. If you are not in the tutoring environment when your session is scheduled to begin, your tutor will send an email to the address you provided and will guide you through any difficulties you are experiencing.


We're here to help.

The Writing Center

Jessica Rabin, Ph.D.


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Visit a Writing Center


Fall 2018 Hours

(August 27-December 8)
Andrew Truxal Library Room 136

9 a.m.-8 p.m.

9 a.m.-5 p.m.

10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Download the
Writing Center Tutor Schedule

Arundel Mills

(August 27-December 8)

12 p.m.-4 p.m.

2 p.m.-6 p.m.

11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Virtual Writing Center

Appointments for online sessions available 7-days a week.