STORY BY ADAM ROGAN
Drake University offers many free services for its students, and one program in particular has gained popularity in recent years.
The Writing Workshop is a student-led organization based in Cowles Library aimed at aiding students writing and improving their papers, stories and essays.
Junior Hannah Armentrout, a Law, Politics and Society, English and Writing triple major, has worked as a tutor at the Writing Workshop for over a year.
She has seen its benefits from both sides of the paper, as tutors must first go to the Workshop to experience the process as a tutee.
“Our goal when we’re working with students is to try to help them convey their ideas in a way that is understandable and that meets the requirements of the assignment,” Armentrout said.
“Usually when people come in they know what they want to say, but they might be having a hard time expressing it in a way that they want it to be expressed.”
Professor Jody Swilky is the director of the Writing Workshop and oversees the work that the tutors and tutees accomplish, as well as addressing other related issues on campus.
“What I’m trying to do is take our services and writing projects and by that way address writing and make it a more important activity for professors … and students,” Swilky said. “My objective is to make writing a more important activity throughout the campus.”
Not only does Swilky believe that the Writing Workshop can benefit students while they are at Drake, but it can also benefit students later in life.
“The hope is that a college education, a liberal arts education, (includes) research, reading and writing, and we’re trying to make students pay more attention and make writing a more important activity so those basic skills and abilities develop which will help them become more developed students and hopefully citizens,” Swilky said.
First-year Haley Abrams has utilized the Writing Workshop on four occasions. A professor required her first visit, but she continues to return on her own.
“I felt like it was really good, really nice, really helped me improve my papers,” Abrams said. “(They help identify) what’s wrong with the paper and help fix it.”
There are several times Writing Workshop workers feel it is most important to schedule a visit.
“I think a lot of times, at some point in the writing, students start to feel stuck,” Armentrout said.
“They’ve hit a wall and they just can’t move past it. So usually in our sessions we’ll talk about different things that they can do and they leave feeling better about the paper.”
“I think it makes the most sense for bigger papers,” Armentrout continued. “I’ve seen people benefit a lot for coming in with those things early. If you come in the night before with your capstone paper it’s not going to go well … but if you can come in maybe a week before a big paper is due, that gives you enough time to make a lot of good changes and it’s always helpful to have another set of eyes on a big paper like that.”
The Writing Workshop is a free service offered to Drake students. All appointments can be set up on their recently updated website.