Tag Archives: academic resources

ARC Spotlight Part 2: Writing Support Program

The Academic Resource Center, or ARC, as it is more commonly referred to, offers multiple dynamic programs which aim to support Tufts students. You may not realize that the ARC also caters to graduate students and offers three programs to choose from! The Time Management and Study Strategies program, Writing Program, and English for Academic Purposes program were all created to help students through the challenges they commonly face. In the second of a multi-part blog series shining a spotlight on the ARC’s programs, we’re going to talk about the Writing Support Program.

Written by Manisha Raghavan, Bioengineering M.S. 2019

Kristina Aikens, the Program Director for the Academic Resource Center’s Writing Support Program, strongly believes that writing does not have to be a solitary experience. Reflecting back on her own grad school days at Tufts (she earned a Ph.D. in English), Kristina notes that she had a support system in the form of a writing group, writing consultants, and her advisor who helped her through the writing process. The Writing Support Program’s graduate writing consultants hail from different backgrounds and have a deep understanding and knowledge of the writing process. The consultants work with students on their papers, class assignments, thesis, dissertations, fellowship applications, personal statements and so on. 

The program offers a variety of options in terms of the services provided. One could sign up for a one-on-one consultation session through ‘Tutor Finder’ in SIS where a list of tutors and their availabilities are posted. This consultation session could be a one-time event to work on a short assignment or a recurring event depending on the student’s need. If one intends to work on a longer paper, for instance their thesis, they could email arcwriting@tufts.edu to get matched with a suitable writing consultant. 

Apart from the regular sessions, the program also offers a Graduate Writing Exchange (GWX) where a group of graduate students work independently on their drafts and meet weekly to discuss. The exchange spans over three hours and is based out of room 203 in Campus Center from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m for the Spring 2019 semester. An ARC consultant is present to offer feedback and guidance when needed. The group also shares their challenges during the writing process and sets deadlines and goals for themselves. Participation is completely voluntary and grad students can choose to attend as many weeks as they wish to!

Graduate Writing Retreats are a week-long tailored event which cater to students who are looking to start their thesis or dissertation. These retreats are held in the months of January, June and August on the Medford campus. The motivation behind these retreats is to provide a space for students where then can conceptualize and write in peace with limited distractions. At the beginning of the retreat, the student meets with a consultant to discuss their personal writing plan. The first day of the retreat focuses on identifying and addressing writing problems apart from setting goals. During the course of the retreat, approximately four hours a day is dedicated solely to the writing process. At the end of the week, the student evaluates their progress and can seek further guidance from a writing consultant if desired. The participation for the retreat is capped at 20 students, so students are encouraged to sign up for it at the earliest date possible.

Interested in working as an ARC writing consultant?The Writing Program always welcomes applications from students across Arts and Sciences and Engineering for the role of writing consultants. The application period usually begins at the beginning of April and interviews are held throughout May. Prospective consultants are expected to be writer-focused and willing to help the writer achieve their goals, along with having strong interpersonal skills. If you have experience with intensive writing, editing and mentoring, and enjoy working with people closely, this might be the perfect role for you! 

To sum it up, if you ever have writer’s block, anxiety while writing a paper, or just need someone to help you out with any stage of writing, sign up for a writing consultation session right away!

In search for writing inspiration? Here are a few writing tips from Kristina to help you get started:

  1. Make writing a habit: Carve out a time in the day to sit down and write 
  2. Make writing a commitment: Treat it as you would treat an essential task
  3. Start with hand-written notes if you find yourself staring at a blank document on your laptop

ARC Spotlight Part 1: Time Management and Study Strategies Program

The Academic Resource Center, or ARC, as it is more commonly referred to, offers multiple dynamic programs which aim to support Tufts students. You may not realize that the ARC also caters to graduate students and offers three programs to choose from! The Time Management and Study Strategies program, Writing Program, and English for Academic Purposes program were all created to help students through the challenges they commonly face. In the first of a multi-part blog series shining a spotlight on the ARC’s programs, we’re going to talk about the Time Management and Study Strategies program.

Written by Manisha Raghavan, Bioengineering M.S. 2019

The Time Management and Study Strategies Program (TM&SS for short) traces its roots back to 2004 when Lara Birk, the head of Subject Tutoring, noticed undergraduate students struggling with their time management skills. Lara hired doctoral student Laura Vanderberg as an intern to design a structured program to support students in honing their time management, which became officially known as the Time Management & Study Strategies Consulting program in 2008.

TM&SS is a very unique program which focuses on developing a personalized, collaborative relationship between the student and the consultant, who then work together on the changes the student wants to make. Claire Weigand, Assistant Director of the ARC, strongly believes that the program has something to offer to everyone. Each year during staff training, the consultants (who are also grad students) report learning strategies and concepts that they find personally useful in grad school.  The TM&SS program receives requests from a wide variety of students who often find themselves experiencing burnout, procrastination, anxiety, struggles with sleep and so on. The program operates on the philosophy that change is possible, while recognizing that change involves a mixture of setbacks and growth. 

What can I work on with my consultant?

If you find yourself working on your planning, motivation, study strategies, test anxiety, perfectionism, self-care or work-life balance, it is worth giving TM&SS consulting a try. TM&SS consulting focuses on three areas: planning (routines, busy weeks, goals, etc.), academic skills (reading large amounts, note taking, studying, test taking, etc.), and well-being (life balance, motivation/procrastination, self-care, etc.). You can sign up, get matched with a consultant within two days, and then meet for the first time to see if this is something that helps you make the changes you are working on.

How does the program work?

To request TM&SS consulting, fill out a sign-up form at go.tufts.edu/tmsssession. The program director matches students with consultants based on the information in their answers. Students are asked about what they would like to work on and what they look for in a consultant. It is important that each student feels accepted and understood by their consultant, so matching is based on schedule overlaps and each student’s preferences around shared life experience (gender, race, sexuality, personality traits, field of studies, etc.). The process also offers the flexibility to swap consultants if a student feels like they are not working well with a consultant.

TM&SS is available for both undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering and the SMFA. For graduate students, depending on the consultant’s availability, sessions can be conducted over both winter and summer breaks. 

Want to work as a TM&SS consultant?

Look out for the job posting starting in mid-April on Handshake and keep your cover letter and CV/resume handy! Candidates must be able to attend the entire 40-hour paid training week, the week before orientation in August (August 19-23, 2019).

Want some advice without scheduling an appointment yet? Here are some mantras from the program to help you cope with the pressures of grad school:

  1. Take effective breaks! One ends up being more productive when one takes timely breaks.
  2. Gratitude journaling is a wonderful way to start appreciating the good things in life we often do not notice, which can boost motivation and our mood.
  3. Sleep improves learning! Cutting back on sleep to get more done quickly stops working as everything takes longer to get done when we are tired.

My consultant was absolutely wonderful… She helped me develop skills that will be valuable in my post-Tufts life. She was a fantastic part of my network of support this semester.

-Anonymous Tufts Grad Student