Writing Center helps write it out

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 Illustration by Mandy Derfler

Illustration by Mandy Derfler

By Ian Coleman


Students, staff and community members who need help writing an essay for a four-year university application may visit the writing center in Room 201 of Gonzales Hall, said Jane Focht-Hansen, director of the writing center and English professor.

“Writing is not horrible; it’s really a lot of fun. When you come here with people who like to do it anyway, it’s less painful,” Focht-Hansen said Monday.

She said college application essays have a lot to do with the specific program and university to which one is applying.

“Admissions want to see some writing and thinking. … They are looking to see how that writer approaches the subject area,” Focht-Hansen said. “(Four-year universities) want to hear a story about why the applicant will fit in well there.”

She said universities are looking for essays that keep the reader intrigued and display what the applicant will bring to the program and university.

“If you can’t communicate on a page, impress someone, grab their attention and get them to admit you, then you are not embracing the opportunity in the (essay’s) prompt,” Focht-Hansen said.

She said composing a good essay takes forethought into the subject matter of the prompt.

“I think you have to start thinking about yourself: What is it you are going to bring to the table if you transfer into this institution? How do you contribute to the discipline? How does your intellectual capability demonstrate something fresh and interesting?” Focht-Hansen said.

Focht-Hansen said the writing center not only helps with university application essays but also scholarship essays, graduate school applications, theses and dissertations.

“Since (all the tutors) are in a different point in their education, we’ve all had experience in writing a variety of applications. So we not only bring writing expertise, but also experience,” Focht-Hansen said.

She said the writing center does not tutor only students, faculty and staff of the Alamo Colleges, but also alumni and members of the community.

“We serve our community. … Just because somebody transfers doesn’t mean we are not willing to help them,” Focht-Hansen said. “We are not too worried about why you are here. We just want people to get better at writing.”

Focht-Hansen said tutors also help with any type of writing.

“We have all kinds of folks come in here. We sometimes proofread menus; sometimes, it’s chemistry papers. It’s the full gambit here,” Focht-Hansen said.

She said people who want to take advantage of the writing center must make an appointment.

The writing center is open 8 a.m-5 p.m. Monday and Thursday, 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and 9 a.m.- 2 p.m. Friday.

For immediate assistance, students may visit between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. on weekdays and Thursday afternoons when many people do not show for their appointments, Focht-Hansen said.

She said people who cannot keep an appointment should call ahead so time slots may be opened to others.

For more information, call 210-486-1433.


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