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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