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What to Expect

When working with a writing professional at the Odegaard Writing & Research Center, a typical session may go like this:

Our tutors will start by asking you a series of questions about your assignment, what you want to accomplish, the work you have done on it so far, the due date, and your concerns and questions. It’s a good idea to bring the assignment description and/or any notes you took in class about it. Answering these questions often helps you to clarify your own goals and intentions for the paper, and helps us to know what to look for as we read the paper with you.

  • If you have not written your paper yet you and a tutor will work together to understand the assignment prompt and determine what is expected of you, perform research (if applicable) to find appropriate academic resources for your paper, brainstorm to determine what direction you might want to take with your paper, and/or outline to help you discover the most effective way to shape and organize your ideas.
  • If you bring a paper draft to your session then you and the consultant will read what you have brought aloud. You may be surprised at how much it helps to hear what you’ve written. You’ll both be listening for ways of improving the paper—ways to make it say what you want it to say as clearly and effectively as possible—and you’ll stop along the way to discuss possible changes.

Ultimately, the goal of each session is to make you feel ready and able to tackle the next step in writing or revising your paper, whatever that may be. Sometimes there may just be a little polishing and proofreading left to be done; if so, we’ll try to make sure you know how to do that. But other times a paper needs significant re-focusing or re-organizing; sometimes an argument needs to be reconsidered, or bolstered with more evidence, or stated more clearly; sometimes sources need to be identified more accurately, or individual sentences or paragraphs need to be written more clearly. Sometimes a paper needs attention to all of the above! Together, you and your tuor will sort out what you should work on first and whether or not you should come back to deal with other issues. That’s why we strongly recommend that you allow plenty of time between your first writing center appointment and the paper’s due date.

Please note that a OWRC tutor is not a stand-in for your professor. Your tutor is not in a position to anticipate or explain your instructor’s response to your writing, or to judge either the accuracy or quality of your paper’s content. The consultant may suggest that you bring some of your questions about a paper to the instructor who assigned and will be grading it. But it’s still worth coming to the OWRC to clear up what you can before turning in a paper. Think of your appointment as an opportunity to clarify your ideas, goals, and rhetorical choices before submitting your final product.

For online tutoring appointments, it is highly recommended that you use a computer or tablet. Trying to use a smartphone can often lead to technological issues that take up your appointment time.

We look forward to seeing you!

Center Policies

The following policies attempt to ensure that tutors will be available to you and others equally:

  • Regular weeks
    During a normal week, you may sign up for 3 appointments.
    Please leave 2 or more sessions between appointments in the same day.
  • High-Traffic weeks
    During exceptionally busy weeks, you may sign up for 1 appointment(s).
  • Missed Appointments
    If you miss (fail to show up for) a total of 3 appointments, you will lose the ability to sign up via the website for the rest of the term.
  • Timely Cancellations:
    If you must cancel an appointment, please do so promptly — at the minimum 2 hours in advance.
    Appointments cancelled later than this will count as missed appointments.
  • Late Arrival:
    If you are more than ten minutes late to your session, we will have to give your session away to another waiting writer, and you’ll need to wait for a drop-in or reschedule your appointment.
  • Drop-Ins:
    We take drop-ins on a first-come, first-serve basis when we have tutors available. We reserve the right to limit the number of drop-in appointments that one student can have on a given day.

Software has bugs. Life has glitches. If you feel we have made a mistake, or that you have missed an appointment due to special circumstances, please contact our center at

OWRC Accessibility Statement

We encourage students to contact the OWRC and discuss possible accommodations that can be made during a tutoring session. The OWRC is able to offer the following accommodations to writers:

  • Extra time in tutoring sessions to accommodate students who may need more time.
  • A semi-private (separate) room to conduct a tutoring session.

If you have any questions regarding center accommodations, please contact the OWRC by email at

Fragrance-Free Environment

The OWRC is committed to providing a fragrance-free environment for all visitors to maintain a safe and healthy environment for all. The OWRC requests that all visitors limit fragrances in the center to support a fragrance-free environment.

Code of Conduct

The OWRC expects writers to be engaged and respectful of peers and all OWRC employees. Uncooperative or disrespectful behavior towards staff will not be tolerated. OWRC staff reserve the right to end tutoring sessions early and refuse service. If a tutor is made to feel uncomfortable during a session, they will have the right to turn off the video, terminate the session, and/or report the writer to the university. Depending on the severity of the offense, visitors may have writing center privileges revoked in the OWRC. All OWRC visitors are expected to comply with all UW library policies.

Getting the Most from Your Session


  • Materials related to the writing project you’re currently working on. Any drafts, notes, comments from earlier readers, the assignment prompt (if there is one), or source material (readings) you’re working with can help our tutors understand your writing situation. These may be hard copy (printed) or digital — we are happy to use either.
  • Your writing — or no writing. We can help at any stage. Bring what you have, but don’t be afraid to come even if you don’t have anything but questions.
  • Openness, flexibility, and energy. The writing session only works if you are an active participant. Be open and willing to talk through your ideas, goals, and difficulties!

Other Things to Know:

  • Book early and often. Leave yourself time to make changes. Appointments often fill up 2 weeks in advance.
  • Generally, we work with writers on take-home exams only if they have written approval from their instructor to use OWRC or other writing centers for that purpose. If you bring a take-home exam to the OWRC, please be prepared to show written permission from your instructor, perhaps via Canvas, on the take-home prompt, or via email.
  • If you have to cancel, please do so more than 2 hours in advance of your appointment time in order to avoid account deactivation. After 3 “no-shows” in a term, writers will no longer be able to book appointments with us until the following quarter. Please respect our tutors and other writers who would like to work with us by making full use of the sessions you reserve.
  • Unless you are working on a thesis or dissertation, you may only bring the same assignment in a maximum of 3 times.