The Mounger Writing Center
- Cadet FAQ
For Faculty FAQ, visit the Faculty FAQ page. The Mounger Writing Center is located on the second floor of Jefferson Hall (NE Wing). During regular academic semesters, the MWC is open for one-on-one sessions most Monday through Friday afternoons (1230-1600) and Sunday through Thursday evenings (1930-2200). All regular sessions begin on the hour and last up to forty-five minutes; appointments are strongly encouraged, though drop-ins are also welcome (especially M-F from 1230-1250 and Sun-Th 1930-1950, when walk-ins are seen on a first-come, first-served basis). We also regularly hold group workshops on a variety of writing topics and sponsor other special events. Go to https://usma.mywconline.com for the most up-to-date information, including a list of workshops, or to schedule an appointment.
- What's the bottom line?
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 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.
- Who can schedule sessions at the MWC? What kinds of writing can you help with?
The Writing Center is open to all Cadets. You can bring in assignments for any academic course: anything from essays, responses, and research papers to technical or lab reports, abstracts, manuals, and posters. You can even come to practice oral presentations or design PowerPoints. Consultants also welcome talking with you about any writing you're doing out of personal interests or to pursue professional opportunities (like statements for grad school).
- Who will I meet with at the MWC?
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.
- When should I come in?
The sooner, the better. We're prepared to assist you at at any stage of the writing process. That can mean starting out with understanding a prompt, brainstorming, or clarifying an initial focus. We also talk a lot about developing theses, outlining ideas, analyzing evidence, and organizing paragraphs. If you have something drafted, we'll help you revise for insight, cohesion, clarity, and correctness. Bottom line: come in whenever it's right for you, though keep in mind you may not schedule appointments on the same day your assignment is due.
- What should I bring with me?
Bring your assignment, any relevant notes or readings, and a hard copy of any writing you have in progress. (Hard copy is easier for a consultant to read, and it will also be easier for you to proofread, too, if necessary.) Bring anything else you think might be helpful.
- What should I expect? What actually happens during a session?
We’ll ask you to tell us about your assignment, how you’re approaching it, and your concerns. So come in with a plan—specific questions you want to address. If you haven’t written much, then we’ll discuss your ideas and possibilities for developing them. Your consultant will probably prompt you to do some writing on the spot. You may leave with a rough outline or thesis statement, or you may discover that you first need to do more thinking.
If you have written something, then we’ll read through as much as we can and discuss its strengths and weaknesses with you. Our main interest is in the substance and organization of your paper: do you respond to the assignment? do you have a thesis? does your evidence support your thesis? is your paper or report structured appropriately, so that individual paragraphs stick to the point and sections follow one another logically? We are also interested in style and correctness: are your sentences clear and precise? do you cite sources properly?
Along the way, you can suggest other issues to discuss, too. After all, it’s your paper. You’ll play a leading role in the conversation we have about it; expect to be an active thinker and writer all the way through your session. At the end, we'll recap what we've discussed and write a report about your session while you complete a brief survey.
- What should I NOT expect?
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.
- Will you proofread my paper for me?
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.
- Anything else I NEED to know?
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.