Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a session cost?

$0.00 USD.

Do I have to be an NIU student?

Nope! We are glad to help out anyone who requires our assistance. First priority in scheduling goes to those connected to NIU, but appointments can be scheduled by anyone.

Where can I park?

Currently there are two options. Lot PS is across the street from Stevenson South and has blue, yellow, and orange pass parking as well as a few metered spots. Metered spots allow for up to two hours of parking time, and the meters take quarters, dimes, and nickels. A quarter secures 15 minutes, a dime 6 minutes, and a nickel 3 minutes; thus, an hour long appointment might require $1.10.

There is also parking lining the baseball field; that parking is blue, yellow, and brown.

Accessible spots are available in lot PS.

Can I just walk in? Or do I need an appointment?

During the semester we don't usually set aside hours for walk-ins. Depending on how busy we are, we may have a coach available to help you if you just show up. We tend to be busy most of the time, so if you're feeling lucky you can try this method. We strongly recommend making an appointment though, as you can then secure a time that is all yours, and you won't have to worry about whether you'll see a coach.

During finals we do build in walk-in times, but they are first-come, first-served. Because of the demand, obtaining a walk-in at this time can be difficult, so we recommend planning ahead.

How do I make an appointment?

You can give us a call at 815-753-6636 or stop by in person to set up an appointment. Our receptionists will be glad to help. We only have one phone though, so if you don't get ahold of a receptionist the first time, try again in a few minutes.

Can I request a specific coach?

We're all highly trained, friendly, and ready to help. That said, if you really want to work with a particular coach, we have the capacity to set up appointments with the same coach.

What kind of writing can I bring in?

We can help you with any type of writing, from academic to informal. This includes essays for class, blog posts, rèsumès, scholarship essays, and more.

What's the late policy?

For a half hour appointment, you have a five minute grace period. If you arrive during the grace period, you still get your appointment. If you arrive later, there just isn't enough time for the appointment, and you'll be asked to reschedule.

For an hour appointment, you have a ten minute grace period. If you arrive during the grace period, you get your appointment, no questions asked. However, if you're more than ten minutes late, your appointment may be given to someone else already present. Being late doesn't automatically forfeit your appointment, but we will not hold the slot for you.

How will my session go?

You'll walk into the Writing Center, give your name to the receptionist, and take a seat. The receptionist will provide you with a session form that you will be responsible for filling out. We need to know what class brings you in and your instructor's name. If you're not here for a class, just use the class line to write the genre of writing you've brought with you (such as scholarship essay or rèsumè).

At the time of your appointment, your coach will come and show you to a table. Your coach will guide you through your session. Depending on your comfort, either you or your coach will read your paper out loud. Discussions will be had and improvements will be suggested - this is a collaborative learning process focused on helping you increase your writing skills, so while the coach is definitely there to work with you, you are responsible for marking your paper and making changes.

At the end of the session, the coach can make a copy of the session form to be stamped for your instructor. Some instructors require proof of your visit, and this stamped/signed session sheet will suffice.

Do I have to fill out the session sheet?

Yes.

But the sheet is so long...

Hopefully next year we'll have a more stream-lined process using futuristic technology and card swipers, but for now this is how we collect our data. The first time you come in, the paper is a bit long - but take heart! Next time, you'll be asked to fill out a half-sheet, which doesn't ask for as much information.

How many copies of my paper will I need?

In a perfect world, we'd like two. However, we understand that printing is not always possible, so we'll accept one copy. A copy can either be a hard copy or a digital copy. If you bring in a digital copy, please be prepared to work on a computer - which means you need to email yourself a copy of the paper, save the file on a flashdrive you have with you, or place the file in a digital drop-box that you can access from the Writing Center. We have computers available, but we also encourage you to bring your own laptop.

What do I need to do for an appointment for a group project?

When you call to make your appointment, you must specify that your appointment is for a group project. The receptionist will need to know how many members are in your group as well as the names of each group member. Make sure to only schedule an appointment that everybody can make, as a session cannot occur without all group members present and accounted for. Unfortunately, we cannot make exceptions to this rule.

Is there any possibility that I could meet with a coach over the weekend?

The UWC is not open outside of Writing Center hours.

Is the Writing Center open over spring break or the winter holidays?

The UWC director is sometimes available during breaks. Email gjacky@niu.edu to determine her availability. 

Is the Writing Center open on game days?

Yes, but we close at 4 p.m. on those days because it is difficult to get to Stevenson.

Are coaches available in any location other than Stevenson South?

We do have coaches available in Founders Memorial Library 260, but their hours are limited. For more information, please call 815-753-6636.

I don't really need a session, but my instructor requires me to come in. Can I just have a sheet stamped?

The purpose of the writing center is to help you develop your writing skills as a means of communication and self-expression, which is probably why your instructor recommended you come in the first place. If all we provided you was a stamped paper, we would be doing both you and your work a disservice. We're interested in your development as a writer and as a student, so doing anything but coaching you through a session would be dishonest of us. So, come prepared to work!

Can I just e-mail my paper?

We do have Google Hangout appointments, and you can read up on those here. A Google Hangout appointment requires your presence as well. We don't currently offer a service where you can simply e-mail your paper in and wait for our feedback. We're a collaborative process, and you're a big part of that process. The short answer is not really.

I was told all coaches were busy. Is this true?

Coaches are alloted breaks throughout the day to keep them sane and happy. Our receptionists do their best to work with your schedule, and we apologize if we can't find a time that works.

What if there are no available appointments, and I need my paper looked at by a certain day? Can I email my paper?

If there are no available appointments, that means that all our coaches are currently booked to work with other students, faculty, or community members. We recommend making your appointments early in the semester to avoid running out of time. 

Are there any other writing centers on campus?

We are the only Writing Center.

Are the baked goods sometimes present at the reception desk for everyone?

Yes, and they are delicious! If you have allergies, please ask the receptionist what the treats contain.