Writing Center

Welcome, students! The Writing Center is here to assist you with any writing issue related to your program of study. If you are already familiar with our services and wish to set up an appointment, please go to our appointment sign-up form and/or download our hand-outs. If you are not yet sure how to use the Writing Center, please read Writing Center sign-up policies (PDF: 2 pages), How to make an online appointment, as well as the answers to these frequently asked questions.

  • What is the Writing Center?

    The CSSW Writing Center provides one-on-one writing consultations, both in person and online, for MSW and PhD students at CSSW.  Our mission is to empower CSSW students as stronger, more confident writers in their coursework and beyond.  Students should visit with any piece of writing, at any stage, for any writing concern.  Writing consultants work together with students not only to improve a given assignment or draft, but to identify and develop transferable skills students can use to improve their writing in the future.  Students should expect to investigate, collaborate and learn with Writing Center consultants, whatever the writing project.

  • Where are you located, and what are your hours?

    Our meeting locations include CSSW rooms 408, 409, 510, and 513, as well as the CSSW Library Circulation Desk (for select evening drop-in hours).  When you register for a session on our online scheduler, you’ll find the location of your appointment next to your staff resource’s name. 

    *Online meetings are held through our online scheduler and can be reserved at any time during our regular hours.

    Our weekly schedule may vary between, and even during, semesters.  Always follow the online scheduler for current hours and availability.

    Writing Center Weekly Schedule, Spring 2016:

    • Monday to Thursday, 11 am to 10 pm
    • Friday, 12 to 4 pm
    • Sunday, 12 to 8 pm
    • *Library Drop-ins, Wed / Thurs, 4 to 8:30 pm (beginning Wed Feb 17)
  • Who works at the Writing Center?

    The CSSW Writing Center staff is comprised of both social work and writing professionals.  See current staff bios below.

    Spring 2016 Writing Center staff:

    NADIA ADDASI  is a licensed Master level social worker who earned her graduate degree at New York University with a concentration in policy.  She has been a teaching assistant in the Department of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies at the New York University College of Arts and Sciences for many years.  Following graduate school, Ms. Addasi worked for an alternative to incarceration program for several years in Manhattan Criminal Court.  She has also conducted qualitative and quantitative research for the McSilver Institute for Policy Poverty and Research and the National Association of Social Workers via the Institute Against Violence at NYU.  

    AMELIA BLANQUERA  is a nonfiction MFA candidate in the Columbia University School of the Arts.  She holds a BS from New York University and a JD from Brooklyn Law School.  She has taught an Essay & Opinion Writing class at Gotham Writers Workshop.  In addition, Amelia has worked in the book publishing, financial services, and legal fields.

    AMANDA DE JESÚS is a PhD candidate in social work at Fordham University.  She graduated from the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College in 2004.  She works with adults as a clinical social worker at a Bronx community health center and is teaching a Seminar in Clinical Social Work Practice course at Fordham.  She is the social work consultant for the Foster Care Film and Community Engagement project, and also assists with writing the films’ educational materials. 

    CARA MESSINA  received her MA in English at St. John’s University, where she currently teaches First Year Writing courses.  Her master’s thesis used discourse analysis to examine and problematize how writing consultants rely on writing center lore to guide their sessions.  She has taught at the writing centers at St. John’s University and Queensborough Community College, and also worked at SUNY Empire State College as a writing coach, where she developed writing workshops for adult learners.  

    ADAM PELLEGRINI  directs the CSSW Writing Center.  He received his MFA in poetry from the University of Maryland, where he served as assistant director of a university-wide writing center before moving to New York.  Adam developed his understanding of rhetoric and writing pedagogy from years teaching in the first-year classroom, writing centers and community workshops.  He has a professional and scholarly interest in exploring the overlap between direct social work practice and student-centered teaching in writing centers.  He regularly draws inspiration from CSSW students, colleagues and curriculum.

    CAMILLE SANTISTEVAN  graduated from CSSW in 2013 with concentrations in social enterprise administration and the world of work.  She also holds a BA in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley, where she studied economic inequality in the United States. Currently, Camille leads education outreach initiatives to spur public interest in high-end science at the CUNY Advanced Science Research Center. 

    VANESSA WELLS  is currently a PhD student in social work with a concentration in practice at Columbia University.  She has a BA in Communication, MA in Counseling Psychology and MSW in Social Work.  Her research interests are gender, poverty alleviation and labor force issues in U.S. social policy using qualitative methods.  She has worked with writers at all levels from proofreading a professor’s first book to tutoring freshman multilingual students.  At CSSW, Vanessa has served as a teaching assistant and a PDSA workshop facilitator.  She has over 15 years of experience in social services offering housing, employment, mental health, and government benefits for disadvantaged families.

  • How do I schedule and join an appointment online?

    Below are basic instructions for making and joining online appointments at the Writing Center. For more detailed instructions with visuals as well as tips for best use, please see our handout “How to make an ONLINE APPOINTMENT_CSSW Writing Center.”

    1. Basic instructions for making and joining an online appointment at the Writing Center:
    2. Sign into our online scheduler and click on an available appointment slot, marked in white, for ANY staff resource.
    3. In the appointment form pop-up, choose "Meet online" in the drop-down menu.
    4. A few minutes before your session start time, sign back into the online scheduler, click on your appointment, and in the appointment form pop-up click "Start or Join Online Consultation.
    5. ***When prompted, click to ALLOW ACCESS to your video and audio.  Using Firefox, or Google Chrome, is required for the video chat function.

    Finally, if you have a Word document you are working on, upload it by clicking the arrows icon on the top right side of the screen.  Alternatively, copy and paste your text into the whiteboard of your online meeting.

    If you are having difficulty accessing your online meeting, email your staff resource at the Lionmail address listed at the top of your appointment form in the online scheduler (click your appointment to access). 

  • Should I choose a 25- or 50-minute appointment?

    We encourage students to view 25 minutes as half sessions and 50 minutes as full sessions, and recommend that students choose full sessions as often as possible.  A thorough review and discussion of a draft and the skills behind writing choices takes time and may open further areas for revision than anticipated.  In online sessions, factor in time for getting situated with the technology, and for communicating remotely.

    We find half sessions (25 minutes) to be most productive for students with shorter writing projects, more focused questions, or who want to schedule two visits in the same week as they develop a draft. 

  • How do I drop in for additional time this week?

    Students may schedule up to 50 minutes of appointments each week.  Students seeking additional time each week may drop in for another 50 minutes of appointments.  We hold regular drop-in hours at the CSSW Library Circulation Desk (CSSW 2nd floor) Wednesday and Thursday evenings, and students may drop in during regular hours whenever there is a free space on our online scheduler

    To drop in during our regular schedule of appointments, find an available time slot, arrive at the meeting location at the start of the session, and ask to drop in.

    To drop in online, find an available time slot on our regular schedule of appointments, weekdays only; email Director Adam Pellegrini (ap3149@columbia.edu) prior to 8AM (EST) the day of the desired appointment (up to 24-hours in advance).

    Email instructions for dropping in online:

    • **In the subject line, include:  1) “Online Drop-in Request”;  2) your first and last name, as you registered with the Writing Center; and 3) your UNI.
    • **In the email body, include:  1) the writing consultant name(s);  2) the preferred appointment time(s) (include all possible);  and 3) your desired session length (25 or 50 minutes).
    • You will receive a response email the morning of the requested appointment to confirm or cancel your request, depending on same-day availability of the appointment(s) you specified.
  • The schedule is full—how do I join the waiting list?

    Students may cancel existing appointments until 3 hours prior to a session start time—this means that even during busy times at the Writing Center, availability may change day to day.  Join our waiting list to receive notification for appointment times that become available.

    Waiting list instructions:

    • Sign into our online scheduler, find the day on which you wish to make an appointment, and click the icon just to the left of the day's date (on the left side of the screen).
    • In the "Add to Waiting List" pop-up window, select resource and time restrictions as desired and click on the line “Add to Waiting List” at the bottom of the window to be notified via email when an opening for that day appears. Receive notification by text message by updating your profile.  
    • All students on the waiting list will receive an immediate email or text message when someone cancels an appointment for that day/time.At that point, the first student who is able to log in and sign up for the session will get it.
  • What can / should I bring to my appointment, and how should I prepare?

    What to bring: Students may visit the Writing Center with any academic or professional writing project, whether it’s for class, fieldwork or applications.  Students may bring documents of any length but should expect to set session goals by the kinds and number of writing concerns presented, the draft stage of the project and the length of the appointment.  Having a completed draft, or any draft at all, is not a requirement, and we are happy to brainstorm, strategize and organize with students in the pre-writing phase.

    Students meeting us in person with a printed draft are encouraged to bring two copies, though we are very happy to work from a screen.  All students, whether meeting us online or in person, should have the assignment instructions.  Any additional materials—including instructor feedback, class notes, referenced sources, previous drafts or a grading rubric—may be helpful to have on hand.

    How to prepare: Our most productive sessions are often those in which students arrive on time with their materials organized and objectives thought out.  In advance of your session, consider:

    • rereading your draft 
    • articulating your questions/concerns
    • highlighting moments to discuss in your draft or assignment sheet
    • choosing a section of a longer work you most want feedback on

    This preparation likely becomes easier with practice, so we recommend scheduling an introductory session with the Writing Center early in the semester to become acquainted.

    Of course, students are welcome to visit the Writing Center at any level of preparedness, and we can help you gain perspective on your draft and writing process. 

  • What other resources does the Writing Center offer?

    At the start of fall and spring semesters, the Writing Center offers an introductory workshop, Writing Strategies & APA Style, covering writing in the social work discipline, writing and reading strategies, and basic tips on APA style.  We also offer a webinar series of interactive, skill-based writing workshops held online through Adobe Connect.

    See our current webinar schedule for more information about our webinar offerings and how to RSVP.

    The Writing Center also offers various handouts on writing concerns such as APA style that are tailored to CSSW students’ research and writing goals.  Find our full list of handouts online, and select hard copies outside of CSSW room 513.

  • How can I contact the Writing Center (last-minute)?

    For general questions and concerns, contact Director Adam Pellegrini from 9 am – 5 pm weekdays at ap3149@columbia.edu or 212-851-2232.

    For last-minute communication regarding your appointment, email your staff resource at the Lionmail address listed at the top of your appointment form in the online scheduler, and copy Director Adam Pellegrini (ap3149@columbia.edu).