What is a Writing Assistant?

Lucy and Caroline Writing Assistants

1. Bowdoin students who understand how hard it can be to write a paper.

2. Students nominated by professors and/or peers on the basis of writing, reading, and communication skills.

3. Intelligent, attentive readers who have been trained to provide constructive and critical feedback on their peers' writing.

How can a Writing Assistant help me?

A Writing Assistant will read and respond to a draft of your paper, essay, or lab report in order to provide you with a fresh-eyes perspective on your work. By asking questions and making comments, a WA can help you focus, develop, clarify, organize, and refine your writing.

Dialogue with a WA is designed to help you think through your ideas more thoroughly and try them out on a real reader who doesn't yet know what you want to convey. The conversation can help you bridge the gap between everyday language and more formal academic discourse, allowing you to gain confidence and control in a comfortable setting. You might compare the process to practicing before the game, rehearsing for the performance, or trying on words and structures until they suit you and the rhetorical occasion.

Do I have to accept the WA's advice?

No. You are the author of your paper and WAs respect your authority. You are responsible for your own writing; you can--in fact, you must--make your own choices about how much and what sort of revision you will do.

WAs are not TAs who instruct you on the subject matter of a particular course. In a conference, you are the expert on the course material.

Writing Assistants have no role in assigning grades.

Writing Assistants

Do WAs proofread papers?

WAs point out patterns of grammatical error and stylistic problems, but they do not proofread or edit copy as if a draft were a final product. They will share editing techniques with you if you ask.

How can I become a Writing Assistant?

Click here for a list of present Writing Assistants

"Students feel very comfortable working with an older student. The quality of the comments from the Writing Assistants was extraordinary."
(Bowdoin faculty member)

"I think the most helpful thing was that the Assistant really got me thinking about the best way to proofread my papers for myself, so that in the future, I will see the same mistakes that my WA saw."
(Film Student)