Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the University Writing Center located?

Our main space is in Stevenson South. We also have 4 satellite locations: Founders Memorial Library 260, School of Nursing, Engineering Building 358, and the Center for Black Studies. Visit our website  for information about the hours for each location.  

Remember Stevenson South is locked 24/7, so please make sure to bring your OneCard to access the building. If you cannot get in that way, please call 815-753-6636 and we will come up and let you in.

How much does a session cost?

Our standard session services are free.

Our dissertation/thesis boot camps are fee based; contact Gail Jacky for further information.

Do I have to be an NIU student?

First priority in scheduling goes to students and faculty/staff connected to NIU, but appointments can be scheduled by others in the NIU community if we have openings. If you are a faculty/staff or community member, please call 815-753-6636 or contact Gail Jacky at to discuss your options.

Students can use our online scheduling system  You will need to use your student ZID account to access the system.

Where can I park?

Currently there are two options. Lot PS the smaller of the two parking lots to the west of Stevenson South. It has blue, yellow, and orange parking as well as a few metered and handicap accessible 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.

The accessible parking spaces also require a valid NIU parking permit.

Note: Part of Lot PS is blue only at all times, so please park in the center spaces.

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

During the semester we do not usually set aside hours for walk-in sessions; however, we plan to have someone available for walk-in sessions at our FML 260 and Center for Black Studies locations.

Depending on how busy we are, we may have a coach available to help you if you just show up. But certain times of the semester, we are completely booked, so we strongly recommend making an appointment, as you can then secure a time that is all yours, and you will not have to worry about whether you will have the opportunity to work with a writing coach.

How do I make an appointment?

We will be using our 24/7 online scheduling system in all of our locations this year. You will need to use your student ZID account and make sure you have set the system to student home to access it.

If that does not work, 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, résumés, 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 is not 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 are more than ten minutes late, your appointment may be given to someone else already present. Being late does not automatically forfeit your appointment, but we will not hold the slot for you.

How will your session go?

You will walk into the University Writing Center location, give your name to the receptionist or swipe your OneCard in the card reader and take a seat. You will be given a session form that you are responsible for filling out. We need to know what class brings you in and your instructor's name. If you are not here for a class, just use the class line to write the type of writing you have brought with you (such as scholarship essay or résumé).

At the time of your appointment, your coach will 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 and discuss your writing/the document. This is a collaborative 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 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. We have to track every single session, so we really do need all of the information filled out. Only the first session form for each year is long. The subsequent session forms are only half sheets and only pertain to the session rather than including the demographics. Remember if you need proof that you came to the UWC, your instructor will want to know the session details. 

How many copies of my paper will I need?

In a perfect world, we would like two hard copies: one for you and one for us. However, we understand that printing is not always possible, so one hard copy will work and ideally an electronic copy. If you only have one hard copy and no electronic copy, you will have to take all notes on the hard copy document. If the coach writes on it, we have to keep it as our work product. You may not take our notes with you, you may not sit and copy it after the session, and you may not take pictures of it. No exceptions will be made.

 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 USB, or place the file in a digital drop-box that you can access from the Writing Center. We have computers available in Stevenson South but not in the satellite locations; we encourage you to bring your own laptop.

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

When you make your appointment, you must specify that your appointment is for a group project. We 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 UWC open over spring break or the winter holidays? Is the UWC open during the summer?

The UWC director is sometimes available during breaks. Email to determine her availability. The UWC is open during summer school, although there are limited hours and a small staff.

Is the Writing Center open on nights with a home football game?

Yes, but we generally close at 4 p.m. on those days because it is difficult to get to Stevenson once tailgating starts. Additionally, parking is restricted for yellow and blue permits because Lot PS is the Cardinal and Black Tailgate location.

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

No! 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 are 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. Come prepared to work!

Can I just e-mail my paper?

We're a collaborative process, and you're a big part of that process. short answer is not really. We do have Google Hangout appointments. These are synchronous sessions in which you and your coach collaboratively share a Google Doc and discuss your writing. These sessions can only be scheduled through our Stevenson South location because we do not have the equipment to do them anywhere else.

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

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. The system is set up to allow scheduling throughout the entire semester. Plan ahead!