Services for Undergraduate Students

Our peer consultants and writing mentors strive to help you:

  • become a better writer
  • communicate your ideas clearly
  • think critically
  • experience an audience as you write
  • make deeper connections between class discussions, your reading, and your own observations and experiences
  • see writing as crucial throughout your time at St. Thomas and beyond.
  • 18 undergraduate peer writing consultants from a variety of majors
  • 2 graduate consultants from the M.A. Program in English
  • 1 ESL specialist
  • 1 Director who is also an Associate Professor in the Department of English

Learn more about us on our staff page.

We provide one-on-one conferences (both in-person and online) with you "before you write, as you write, and after you write." This means we can work with you at any stage of the process--including right after you get an assignment to start planning your research and writing. We're used to writers bringing in very rough drafts and talking to us about their ideas. So don't think you have to have a complete draft to see us. Anytime you come in, please bring the assignment itself so we can go over the professor's expectations and criteria carefully with you to make sure we're on the right track as we work.

If you come in with a complete draft to be "checked," know that we will ask you a lot of questions about it and then have you read parts of it out loud. We frequently work with writers on how to make their points clear to their readers, how to write introductions and conclusions, and how to incorporate evidence in their texts.

If you are looking for help on formatting your papers or documenting your sources according to a particular documentation style appropriate for your discipline (English, history, sociology), we have sample papers that show various documentation styles (APA, MLA, Turabian, ASA, etc.) in JRC 361. You can also access information on these styles online through our Resources page.

We can also work with you writing that isn't for one of your classes, including personal statements for graduate school, resumes, and cover letters. 

Your conversations with us are confidential; you decide whether you will inform your professor that you came to see us. 

Your full appointment can last up to an hour. During a full conference, we:

  • ask you where you are in the process of completing your assignment
  • ask you what your concerns are
  • review the assignment with you
  • ask about the most important point you want to make in your paper
  • review the organization of your draft if you have one
  • have you read the whole paper or portions of it out loud
  • prioritize with you the most important issues you should address
  • and then dig in to work!

We can help you understand an assignment, interpret your assigned readings, brainstorm, develop your ideas, focus on your main point, and organize your paper.

During a full appointment or 20 minute "walk-ins," we won't proofread your papers or help you "fix" your mistakes, and you can't drop off your draft to pick up later. Instead we'll ask you a lot of questions, beginning with your understanding of the assignment. And we may ask you to read your paper aloud. In these ways, we can see what makes sense to you and what may need more work. If you have concerns about your grammar and punctuation, we can identify patterns in what you have difficulty with, and then we can show you strategies for editing your writing.

The peer consultant will help you become actively involved in the topic and your writing. Together we'll find out what needs improving and ways to improve it.

If you can gain extra credit for coming to the Center, please come prepared to work and not just to gain the credit!

We offer three different appointment styles: face-to-face, eTutoring, and online. 

Face-to-face: For Monday-Friday appointments, meet in JRC 361. For Sunday evening appointments, meet in OSF-Library Room 102. Both are on the St. Paul campus.

eTutoring: You do not need to be present during the appointment. The consultant will review your draft during the appointment time and email it, along with their comments, back to you.

Online: You need to be present at a computer during the time of the appointment so you can collaborate and chat online, in real time, with the consultant.

For videos with more information about these appointment types, see our Make an Appointment page. 

Know that we have the same mission and follow the same methods with you in our online work as we do in our in-person work with you: we ask questions, engage you in critical analysis, and avoid proofreading or editing.

Learning English is hard work. The Center for Writing is here to support you. During one-on-one consultations, we can work with you on understanding your assignments, learning and practicing norms and expectations for U.S. academic English, reading scholarly texts, and developing your writing process. 

The following are additional resources available to you:

  • English Language Consultants (through the Center for Academic Achievement) are a new resource for students developing their abilities to read and write in English. Their hours, location, and contact information are available on the Center for Academic Achievement website.
  • Professor Suzanne Donsky, ESL Specialist in the Center for Writing, has extensive experience teaching ESL students. You can make an appointment to speak with her about particular papers you are writing. She also teaches classes in the English department specifically for ESL students. Contact her at sldonsky@stthomas.edu or 651-962-5694.
  • ELS St. Paul is a private vendor affiliated with UST (currently housed in the Summit Classroom Building on Summit Avenue). They provide a variety of courses for learning English. More information is available on the ELS website.
  • Private tutors can offer more intensive tutoring. Contact the Center for Writing for a list of available professionals. 

We've found these sites indispensable in issues they address, and we update this list annually.

Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL)

  • The mother of all online resources, Purdue has concise descriptions of citation styles (MLA, APA), guides to writing research papers, as well as handouts on how to develop workshops and presentations.

University of North Carolina

  • Very user-friendly, covers writing in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences as well as grammar, transitions, and commas.

Princeton University

  • Excellent topics and sound academic advice.

University of Toronto

  • Help for writers from researching to using sources to editing.

University of Wisconsin-Madison

  • Excellent advice on style issues, including word choices and sentence structures.

University of Richmond

  • Clear explanations of how to document sources and use sources effectively.