The Writing Center
The Writing Center is here to assist you with any writing issue related to your program of study. Writing Center staff will listen to your concerns and provide feedback and assistance in a welcoming, safe setting.
What does the Writing Center do?
The Writing Center provides one-on-one writing consultations, both in person and online, for MSW and PhD students. Our mission is to empower students at the Columbia School of Social Work to become stronger, more confident writers in their coursework and beyond. As a student, you should feel free to visit us with any piece of writing, at any stage, for any writing concern. Writing consultants work together with you not only to improve a given assignment or draft, but to identify and develop transferable skills—how to investigate a topic, collaborate with others, and learn—that will help in any future writing or creative projects.
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.
NOTE: Sessions may also be held online through our online scheduler, and can be reserved at any time during our regular hours.
Writing Center Weekly Schedule, Spring 2017*
- Monday – Thursday, 11 am – 10 pm
- Friday, 11 am – 3 pm
- Sunday, 12 – 8 pm
- DROP-IN HOURS: Wednesdays, 4 – 8 pm at the CSSW Library Circulation Desk (starting Feb 15)
*Our weekly schedule may vary between, and even during, semesters. Always follow the online scheduler for current hours and availability.
Who works at the Writing Center?
The Writing Center staff comprises both social work and writing professionals.
This Spring 2017, you may choose to work with one of the following consultants:
MALWINA ANDRUCZYK, LMSW is a graduate of CSSW who focused on clinical work and contemporary social issues. Malwina is currently a trauma therapist at Safe Horizon’s Counseling Center. She has also worked as a teaching assistant at CSSW for the Human Behavior in the Social Environment course. She is completing a qualitative research project on the intersections of white racial identity development and class identity, and collaborates on work addressing microagressions in social work classrooms. Malwina is especially interested in working with students on literature reviews, DLCP application papers, and clinical case study papers.
NAOMI MELATI BISHOP received her MFA in Creative Writing from NYU’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, where she taught Introduction to Poetry and Fiction to undergraduates. Naomi has also taught and mentored at NYU’s Stern School of Business to help students refine their essay writing skills and to guide them in executing pro-social business ideas. Naomi’s writing and editing experience is multidisciplinary; her specializations include journalism, marketing and essay, resume, and creative writing. Naomi currently works as a freelance writer, journalist, tutor and editor.
SEAN DENMARK is a writer and tutor with an MA in English education from Teachers College; he also holds an MFA in creative writing and an MA in English literature. While earning his MFA, he taught undergraduate creative writing classes. Prior to that, he was a public school teacher and literacy specialist in New York City for years. While in the Peace Corps, before coming to New York, he taught ESL in a village in Cameroon.
ALEXIS GRINSTEAD is a Program Associate with the Center for the Study of Social Policy, where she works to develop policies and practices to increase well-being and positive outcomes for children and their families. She received her Masters of Social Work from CSSW, with a concentration in policy. She currently supervises graduate social work interns in advancing their comprehension of policy and writing skills.
KATE ST. HILAIRE received her MS in Education and TESOL from Temple University, where she was an editor and contributor to multiple university journals. Her research focused on language learner autonomy, anxiety, and identity in relation to power structures within classroom, workplace, and community settings. She holds her BA in Language and Identity in Education from New York University. She teaches college and high school courses on grammar, rhetorical analysis, and professional, research, and argumentative writing to both native English speakers and English language learners.
CHANTELLA MITCHELL earned her Master of Science in Social Work at CSSW in 2015. Chantella served as an executive editor for the Columbia Social Work Review from 2014-15 and an associate editor from 2013-14. Chantella currently works as the Policy and Programs Associate at JobsFirstNYC where she writes and edits pieces related to workforce policy and practice issues. She also worked as a philanthropy fellow and special projects consultant at the New York Community Trust where she gained experienced reviewing grant proposals and reports.
ADAM PELLEGRINI directs the CSSW Writing Center. He received his MFA 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.
PROUD SETHABUTR received her MA in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University. She taught research writing, critical reading, and literature to EFL students at a university in Bangkok, Thailand for several years before moving to New York. She draws from her own experience as an EFL learner to work through the particular challenges non-native speakers face in higher education.
How do I schedule an appointment?
Students may schedule appointments as many as 14 days in advance, and up to the session start time using our online scheduler. As the Writing Center is a busy service, we suggest you schedule appointments as far in advance as possible to secure your desired day/time; that said, please schedule responsibly, and if you need to cancel, do so as soon as possible to free up that appointment time for other students.
In addition, to help ensure the greatest opportunity for all students to utilize our services, please keep in mind the following Writing Center policies:
- Students may choose 25-minute (half) or 50-minute (full) appointments, whether scheduling in advance or dropping in.
- Each week (Monday to Sunday) students are allowed 50 minutes of scheduled appointments, and an additional 50 minutes of drop-in sessions.
- Each day, students are allowed up to 50 minutes of appointments, whether scheduled, drop-in, or a combination of the two.
- You are allowed one missed appointment per semester.
- The system automatically blocks a student’s ability to cancel or manage an appointment within three hours of the scheduled start time.
NOTE: If this is your first time making an appointment, be sure to read the Writing Center sign-up policies handout (PDF: 2 pages), which details sign-up policies and instructions on how to schedule or drop in for appointments.
How do I schedule an appointment for an online session, and how do I join the session?
Basic instructions for making appointments for online sessions / joining the session:
- Sign into our online scheduler and click on an available appointment slot, marked in white, for ANY staff resource.
- In the appointment form pop-up, choose Meet online in the drop-down menu.
- 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.
- When prompted, click to ALLOW ACCESS to your video and audio. NOTE: 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.
For more detailed instructions with visuals as well as tips for best use, please see our handout How to Make an Online Appointment at the Writing Center (PDF: 9 pages).
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 session?
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. It takes time to do a thorough review and discussion of a draft, and more often than not, the discussion opens further areas for revision than the student 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 more productive for shorter writing projects, or for students with a focused set of questions. Occasionally, a student who is developing a draft may find it helpful to schedule two half-session visits in the same week.
How many sessions can I sign up for per week, and what happens if I need additional time?
Students may schedule up to 50 minutes of appointments each week. We offer a “drop-in” system for students in need of additional time, up to another 50 minutes. We hold regular drop-in hours at the Social Work Library Circulation Desk (CSSW 2nd floor) on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Students may also 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, and email Director Adam Pellegrini (email@example.com) prior to 8AM (EST) the day of the desired appointment (up to 24-hours in advance). In your email, be sure to follow these instructions:
In the subject line, include:
- “Online Drop-in Request”
- Your first and last name, as you registered with the Writing Center
- your UNI.
In the email body, include:
- The writing consultant name(s)
- The preferred appointment time(s) (include all possible)
- Your desired session length (25 or 50 minutes)
Expect to 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 three hours prior to a session start time—this means that, even during busy times at the Writing Center, availability may change. Join our waiting list to receive notification for appointment times that become available.
- 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 Add to Waiting List line at the bottom of the window to be notified via email or text when an opening for that day appears. (To receive notification by text message, update 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. The session will go to the first student to log in and sign up.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 (email@example.com).