Cadet FAQs

For Faculty FAQ, visit the Faculty FAQs page. The Mounger Writing Center will be open with online appointments only for the Fall 2020 semester. Online appointments are available for booking by all cadets and faculty for feedback on any academic, personal, or professional writing project. All sessions are asynchronous (no video or audio meeting); during your sixty-minute session, a Writing Fellow will (1) review your appointment form and the in-progress writing project you've uploaded to it; (2) construct formal written feedback on your work, which will be emailed to you at the session's end; and, (3) send a brief report to your instructor. Go to https://usma.mywconline.com for the most up-to-date information or to schedule an appointment.

We aim to engage you in productive conversations about your ideas and how you can express them more clearly, forcefully, and effectively. As a result, we can be helpful to every writer. You probably won’t leave the MWC consultation with a perfect paper, but you will have concrete ideas about how to improve. And don't just take our word for it: see what the Cadets who come in have to say.

The Writing Center is open to all Cadets. You can work on assignments for any academic course: anything from essays, responses, and research papers to technical or lab reports, abstracts, manuals, and posters. Consultants also welcome working with you about any writing you're doing out of personal interests or to pursue professional opportunities (like statements for grad school).

The MWC is staffed primarily by Cadet Writing Fellows, along with some help from faculty in the Writing Program and contracted Postgraduate Writing Fellows. Cadets are selected as Writing Fellows on the basis of demonstrated promise as writers, teachers, and communicators. All of them undertake rigorous study of composition pedagogy in formal academic courses.

Ensure your appointment form is accurate and detailed regarding the assignment and your concerns; consider even articulating specific questions you have within the MS Word file you upload of your in-progress writing. For instance, if you're concerned about your thesis, point out in the document itself where or how you think it's lacking. If you're worried about how paragraphs 'flow' or whether your argument stays on track, consider highlighting paragraphs about which you're particularly concerned. Bottom line: help us to see where we should prioritize our limited time and how best to help you.

Another tip: save these online sessions for when you are further along in your writing process - they are better for providing feedback on more advanced drafts than for help brainstorming or outlining. 

We’ll likely only be able to read and respond professionally to 5-7 pages of double-spaced writing during any given session. If your project is longer, consider uploading only the most essential portions to your appointment form. 

Your Writing Fellow will point out patterns of error and awkwardness in your writing, especially ones that obscure your meaning, and also guide you to relevant learning resources to consider. In this environment, we recommend that all cadets continue to draw on each other for peer-to-peer proofreading, just as you would at USMA, and also enlist proofreading tools embedded in MS Word as well as free online resources (such as Purdue OWL and helpful extensions like those offered by Grammarly). Remember you must document "extended" proofreading according to the DAW (see section VI.O, pp. 15-16). 

It's important to remember your project is your work, and that Writing Fellows are not instructors; we're generalists, not subject-matter experts. We're not here to edit or simply proofread your paper, nor to grade it. Instead, we act as informed, critical readers; above all we aim to advance your learning and development. We're sounding boards for how effectively you're shaping your argument; we look to advise you about general principles of sound writing, as they bear on the specific writing project you send us. We'll address higher order concerns of substance and organization as well as 'later order' concerns, such as patterns of error or awkwardness in style or mechanics. Bottom line: we focus on formulating questions, comments, and suggestions that will enable you to improve your own work. 

Our goal isn't for you to leave with a perfect paper. Instead, we want you to learn more about yourself as a writer, about the writing process, and about specific writing conventions. All of that will help with the paper you come in with but, more importantly, it develops you as a capable writer in the longterm. 

We’re not ghostwriters, editors, proofreaders, or teaching assistants. That means we won’t write your paper, tell you what to argue, or correct every error for you. We don’t know exactly what your instructor wants, and we won’t guess what grade you might receive. We also don’t read papers in advance or over email; you’ve got to meet with us in person.

No. We want you to learn to become more skilled readers and revisers of your own writing, and doing the proofreading for you would be a waste of time. While we won’t simply edit, 'fix,' or proofread papers, though, we will help you to learn to identify patterns of error as well strategies for correcting them yourself.

We limit you to one appointment per day and two appointments for any given assignment. You cannot come in the same day your assignment is due. Also, make sure you cite any session with us according to the DAW in your final work; sample entries are available on our Welcome Desk.