Mounger Writing Center

We're here to support any cadet or faculty member, with any part of a communications project, at any stage of your process, as you develop further as a thinker and writer.

Mounger Writing Center

We're here to support any cadet or faculty member, with any part of a communications project, at any stage of your process, as you develop further as a thinker and writer.

The Mounger Writing Center (MWC) is a great place for all cadets and faculty to take their work-in-progress. Period. 

We can always help, no matter where you are in the writing process - whether you're just getting started, analyzing a source, generating ideas and outlining your work, or whether you're comprehensively revising as you make your final push. We help no matter whether you're a plebe, firstie, or experienced faculty member and regardless of how confident you feel about your writing - whether you're struggling or excelling or somewhere in between. 

Bottom line: We're here to support any cadet or faculty member, with any part of a communications project, at any stage of your process, as you develop further as a thinker and writer. The MWC complements the academic assistance that West Pointers receive from the Center for Enhanced Performance and specialists at the Library by supporting the entire spectrum of cadet writing and communication needs. 

Appointments

In-person appointments are available for booking by all cadets and faculty for feedback on any academic, personal, or professional writing project. Go to https://usma.mywconline.com for the most up-to-date information or to schedule an appointment.

All sessions are held in person in the MWC (Jefferson Hall, 2nd Floor Northeast). During your 45-minute session, a Cadet Fellow or contracted professional will do the following:

  1. Review your appointment form and the in-progress writing project you've either uploaded or brought in hardcopy form 
  2. Engage you in conversation about your writing questions and give you feedback on your work 
  3. For cadet clients, send a brief report to your instructor

Contracted consultants are available each afternoon to work specifically with faculty. 

Mr. William (Billy) Mounger, Class of '48

In recognition of his generous support and unqualified commitment to the development of more effective cadet writers, the West Point Writing Center (established 2012) was renamed the William D. Mounger '48 Writing Center in October 2016. 

Mr. Mounger admitted to struggling as a writer while at West Point, but in an exemplary account of intellectual curiosity and motivation, he used those struggles to fuel lifelong learning after graduation. This drive, as illustrated in Mr. Mounger's own words below, demonstrates these characteristics for future generations in the Long Gray Line.

"At that time (1950), I determined that I would increase my vocabulary by researching the doubted meaning of any word that I read. Over the years, I have underscored thousands of words, which I have reviewed incessantly, thereby increasing my vocabulary immeasurably. Consequently, I began to read books on etymology and many other publications concerning the origins of the English language. Over time, my original Webster's became so frayed with use that around 1972 my wife, Jan, gave me a new leather-bound Webster's College Dictionary to which I dutifully transcribed from my Plebe Webster's all my previously specified words--that dictionary has also become so tattered that it is now almost unusable."

For more information about Mr. Mounger, his relationship to writing, and his enduring dedication to Cadet writers, see the account authored by West Point's Association of Graduates.

FAQs & Additional Resources

Whether you're a cadet or faculty member, the MWC is here to support you.

To learn more about FAQs and additional resources, select your group below:

MWC also offers information about the following:

Cadet FAQs

Consultants at the MWC help cadets with assignments for any academic course: anything from essays, responses, and research papers to technical or lab reports, abstracts, manuals, and posters, even oral presentations or PowerPoints. Cadets can also make appointments to discuss writing for personal interests or professional opportunities.

Cadets can also find resources for their communication project on our cadet resources page, including guides written by cadets for cadets. 

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.

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 Stokes Fellows, along with contracted writing consultants. Cadets are selected as Stokes 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.

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 DAAW in your final work; sample entries are available on our Welcome Desk.

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: consider bookending your two appointments per assignment so that you come in once early in the writing process and once towards the end of the process. That way, you give sufficient time in between to work on the areas you identified in the first appointment and possibly attend an AI session with your instructor, as needed.

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, your consultant 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. 

We recommend that all cadets continue to draw on each other for peer-to-peer proofreading 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 revision (formerly "extended proofreading") according to the DAAW (see section II C, p. 9). 

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. 

It's important to remember your project is your work, and that Cadet Fellows and contracted consultants 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. We're sounding boards for how effectively you're shaping your argument and we look to advise you about general principles of sound writing. 

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. 

Above all we aim to advance your learning and development.  

Bottom line: we focus on formulating questions, comments, and suggestions that will enable you to improve your own work. 

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.

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. 

It's important to remember your project is your work, and that Cadet Fellows and contracted consultants 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. 

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 DAAW in your final work; sample entries are available on our Welcome Desk.

Faculty FAQs

Contracted consultants are available each afternoon to work specifically with faculty.

The MWC's purpose is to help cadets grow as thinkers and writers over the longterm. This means that we don't try to send cadets away with perfect papers. That's just not possible, even in the most ideal of scenarios, and besides we're not subject-matter experts (that's you, of course).

Instead, we focus on the specific papers or assignments as opportunities to get at bigger lessons. Growing as a writer is a gradual, often uneven process. All writers end up experimenting with different techniques and habits as they take on ever more complex challenges. So a large part of what we do involves raising awareness among cadets about different writing standards and expectations, as well as equipping them with different options for writing and thinking effectively, so that they can judge what works best for them. All sessions at the MWC are dialogue-based: Stokes Fellows aim to help their fellow cadets by talking through their ideas and concerns with them and sharing strategies to help them progress.

Avoid requiring any cadet to visit the MWC; that would be a violation of USMA policy (as requiring a form of additional instruction). Also avoid incentivizing visits to the MWC by awarding points for sessions in quid pro quo fashion: we have limited numbers of appointments available, and encouraging cadets to pursue them in exchange for points takes away sessions from cadets who intrinsically value what we do and want to be here.

With regard to expectations, it's worth repeating: don't expect perfect papers or uniform improvement from cadets who visit us. We're not editors or proofreaders, and becoming a better writer takes time, even under the best of conditions.

The MWC is staffed primarily by Stokes Fellows and, starting in 2017, contracted writing professionals. Cadets are selected as Stokes Fellows on the basis of demonstrated promise as writers, teachers, and communicators; all of them undertake rigorous study of composition pedagogy. In fact, you're welcome to play a role in this process as one of the Stokes Fellows Program's Faculty Mentors, about four hours of work over a semester.

Characterize the MWC as resource for all cadets, not just ones who are struggling in your course. Everyone can benefit from the focused conversations we facilitate. You can also familiarize your cadets with the MWC by taking 2-3 minutes of class time to have them register as users on our scheduling website or by showing them this webpage.

If you're teaching a course linked to the Writing Program, include the appropriate information from this document in your syllabus: Guide for Faculty. If you're teaching a course that isn't linked to the WPWP and just want cadets to be aware of the MWC as a resource, include some version of the following language:

Becoming a thoughtful, skilled communicator is essential to your development: officers of every rank, and professionals in any field, must express themselves clearly, insightfully, and effectively. To this end, the Mounger Writing Center (MWC) is an important resource for you to consider. Located on the second floor of Jefferson Hall, the MWC is open to all cadets for one-on-one sessions concerning virtually any kind of writing. All sessions are facilitated by Stokes Fellows or other experts; they begin on the hour and last up to forty-five minutes. While appointments are strongly encouraged, drop-ins are welcome (pending availability). Bring in assignments for any academic course: anything from essays, responses, and research papers to technical or lab reports, abstracts, manuals, and posters, even oral presentations or PowerPoints.

To schedule appointments, head to usma.mywconline.com. All sessions with the MWC must be cited according to guidance in the DAAW.

Probably you'll get a 'client report' emailed to you by the Writing Fellow who works with your cadet. (Every cadet who comes in to the MWC is given the option of having a report about their session sent to his or her instructor.) You should also see an entry in the 'Works Cited' section of your cadet's final product, since all cadets are required to cite sessions with us according to the guidelines governing 'Additional Instruction' described in the DAAW.​​

Yes! As a faculty member, you may schedule sessions with any of our contracted consultants (all of whom hold advanced degrees). We’re best positioned to offer feedback on academic and professional writing projects. Keep in mind that your expectations as a client should differ little from those of your cadets: the MWC is first and foremost about development—forming more capable thinkers and writers, not turning out perfect products. That means you shouldn’t expect comprehensive editing or proofreading; also, our consultants aren’t necessarily subject-matter experts, and they’ll likely only be able to address select pieces of your project (especially if it’s longer) given time constraints. But you will receive thoughtful, detailed advice that will position you to revise your own work more expansively and effectively. As with cadets, we normally limit faculty to two appointments per writing task (exceptions considered on request).

Technical Communications at West Point

You will encounter many kinds of written technical communication at West Point: reports, essays, orders, white papers, memoranda, and even some emails. Many conferences call for participants to create a poster to highlight their work, and some departments at West Point require cadets to create a poster for their capstone projects on Projects Day. Presentations requires preparation—presenters must understand their subject matter well enough to be able to speak about it without a script. 

Communicating in the Army

Writing is an essential skill for officership. In an interview on the inaugural Battalion Command Assessment Program (BCAP), which includes an essay assessment, former Army Talent Management Task Force (ATMTF) Director MG Joseph McGee explained: "The officer corps will know that if they want to rise to the level of being a battalion commander, it's important for them to do the preparation and work to improve their ability as a writer. That's going to make our communications clearer and better and it's just going to raise the level of performance across the entire officer corps."

The WPWP supports cadets, NCOs, and officers at all levels during their development as effective communicators.