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?

The Writing Center is located in CSSW room 402.

NOTE: All appointments on our regular schedule may be held online or in person. Online appointments meet through our online scheduler. See our handout “How to make an online appointment with the Writing Center” for instructions on making and joining online appointments.

Writing Center Weekly Schedule, Fall 2019

      • Monday to Wednesday, 11 am – 10 pm
      • Thursday, 11 am – 8 pm
      • Friday, 11 am – 5 pm
      • Saturday, 12 pm – 6 pm
      • Sunday, 12 pm – 8 pm

*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?

LINDSEY ALBRACHT is a PhD candidate in English with a concentration in writing studies at The Graduate Center, CUNY where she studies the development of anti-oppressive approaches to translingual writing. She is an Instructional Technology Fellow at Macaulay Honors College and has taught writing and literature classes at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Duquesne University where she also worked as an online writing center consultant for graduate students in the School of Nursing. Formerly, Lindsey worked as an English as a Second Language instructor, curriculum designer, and teacher educator.

APRIL FREELY is an MFA candidate and Goldwater Fellow at the NYU Creative Writing Program in Poetry. She holds a BA from Brown University and an MFA in Nonfiction from the University of Iowa. She specializes in grant writing, having received multiple fellowships and awards in her writing career. She has taught rhetoric and argumentation for six years. Currently, April teaches essay composition through the Language and Thinking program at Bard College, and Introduction to Creative Writing at NYU.

DEAN KRITIKOS received his MA in English from St. John’s University, where he began his writing center career. He’s since consulted writers from various backgrounds in writing centers around NYC, and through freelance tutoring and editing. Dean especially enjoys engaging with theory and analysis in papers and cherishes opportunities to learn about social work alongside students in-session.

JORDAN MENDOZA, LMSW received her MSW from the University of Southern California, where she focused on clinical practice in healthcare. She currently works at Bellevue Hospital as a medical social worker. Jordan enjoys working on papers about social work theory application in real practice. She also has experience in creating resumes and cover letters.

JENNIE MORRISON is a recent MSW graduate of Columbia School of Social Work and a current MA candidate at the Columbia Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, where she is studying oral history. She previously worked in non-profit and public education spaces, and during this time she gained experience with writing grant proposals, developing job descriptions, and reviewing resumes. While studying in the Advanced Generalist Practice & Programming (AGPP) method area, she gained additional experience with the written components of needs-assessments and program evaluations. Outside of this technical writing, Jennie enjoys reading reflective writing, including personal statements.

ADAM PELLEGRINI directs the CSSW Writing Center. He 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.

HANNAH SHELDON-DEAN holds an MSW from New York University and is a freelance writer and tutor. She has extensive experience working with writers of all ages and she especially enjoys helping students clarify their ideas through pre-writing and outlining. As a writer, she specializes in literary analysis, educational content, and publications for children and young adults. Hannah is also a volunteer mentor with Girls Write Now.

CHERRANDA SMITH is a CSSW Class of 2017 alumna from Athens, Georgia. She concentrated in Social Enterprise Administration while at CSSW and served as events coordinator for the Black Caucus. She currently works in corporate social responsibility, with a focus on youth and education. She has experience in grants and personal statements.

GABRIELLE TANG has an MSW from Columbia School of Social Work, with concentrations in Public Policy and International Social Welfare. She has over a decade of experience working in direct services, philanthropy, strategic planning, and grassroots movement building. While Gabrielle’s work has touched upon a variety of issue areas, she has primarily focused on the intersections of economic, gender, and racial justice. Her writing experience includes grant proposal writing, field research and scoping projects, strategic planning, and policy memos.

VERONICA WONG is a former Fulbright research fellow, a New York Humanities Public Humanities Fellow, and a Ph.D. candidate in English. Her dissertation focuses on the transnational politics of women’s cultural labor in the Caribbean, U.S., and U.K. from 1910-1970. She is an artist and writer with professional communications experience at multiple non-profits. She has taught undergraduate creative writing, literature, and composition for the past eight years.

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:

  • Each week, (Monday to Sunday), students may reserve one 50-minute appointment in advance and drop in for an additional 50-minute appointment.
  • Students may make one 50-minute appointment each day.
  • 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 Signup Policies (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:

  1. Sign into our online scheduler and click on an available appointment slot, marked in white, for ANY staff resource.
  2. In the appointment form pop-up, choose “Yes. Schedule Online appointment.” under meeting “Meet Online?”
  3. 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.
  4. When prompted, click to ALLOW ACCESS to your video and audio. NOTE: Using Firefox (or Google Chrome) is required for the video chat function.
  5. 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 CSSW 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).

How many sessions can I sign up for per week, and what happens if I need additional time?

Students may schedule one 50-minute appointment in advance each week (Monday to Sunday). For a second appointment in a given week, students may drop in, in person or online, during our regular schedule of appointments, based on availability. Additionally, look for “Library Drop-In” hours on select days during the final weeks of the fall and spring semesters, when the Writing Center will hold drop-in hours at the Social Work Library Circulation Desk (CSSW 2nd floor).

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 (ap3149@columbia.edu) 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:

  1. “Online Drop-in Request”
  2. Your first and last name, as you registered with the Writing Center
  3. your UNI.

In the email body, include:

  1. The writing consultant name(s)
  2. The preferred appointment time(s) (include all possible)

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?

The Writing Center schedule may be fully booked during peak times of the semester. That said, note that availability may change over the course of a day as students cancel or move appointments. 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 waiting list link to the bottom right of that day’s schedule (on the right 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 introduction to APA Style workshop covering basic tips on APA style. During fall and spring semesters, we also offer a series of interactive, skill-based writing workshops held online through Adobe Connect.

See our webinar schedule during fall and spring semesters linked under “Quick Links” on the right margin of this page for more information about our webinar offerings and how to RSVP. There are no Writing Center webinars offered during summer.

Past webinar recordings are also available upon request. Topics include: APA Style, Literature Reviews, Op-Eds, Reading Strategies, Advocacy Writing, Concision, Paraphrasing, Critique, & Flow, Mindfulness in Writing Practice, Executive Summaries. Email with Director Adam Pellegrini (ap3149@columbia.edu) for links and materials.

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.

If you need to contact the Writing Center at the time of your appointment, you may call room 402 at 212-851-2255. Otherwise, please contact us by email. The Lionmail address for your Writing Center resource is listed at the top of your appointment form in the online scheduling system.