Who are the Knight Institute Writing Centers tutors? Stop by any of our five campus locations and you'll meet friendly undergraduate and graduate students from across the disciplines who love writing and talking about writing! We will also periodically highlight WC tutors through tutor profiles, where you can get to know a tutor, their own understanding of the work of tutoring, and how they feel about writing.
What is your name, major and year? And, how long have you been tutoring at the Knight Writing Centers?
My name is Amanda Coate (History, ’18) and this is my second year tutoring at the Knight Writing Centers. I have also been a writing tutor for the Pre-Freshman Summer Program (PSP).
What motivated you to become a writing tutor?
I was motivated to become a writing tutor primarily because I wanted to help people become better, more confident writers. Writing has always been the way that I best express myself and I have always had a passion for it, but not everyone feels that way. I think, however, that effective writing is an important skill to have no matter what you end up doing in your life. Because of this, I have long gravitated toward helping people with their writing, whether it be as a high school English class TA or just as a friend who looks over the occasional essay.
What is one piece of advice you would give to new college writers?
Talk to your instructors! Many students come to tutoring sessions with questions about their instructors’ grading, assignment prompts, and expectations, and these are questions that instructors can answer a lot better than tutors. If you are confused or uncertain about something, bring this up with your instructors during their office hours, at the end of class, or through e-mail. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to reach out for support. It can sometimes be difficult, but speaking with your instructors outside of the classroom environment is an excellent way to learn about their expectations, improve your writing, and develop working relationships that might be helpful later.
What is one writing convention you’d like to see abolished?
In general, I like to stay away from overarching rules about writing, particularly when they are about issues that are highly stylistic and subjective. For instance, the passive voice. I know many writing instructors talk about the passive voice in their classes and strongly recommend against using it in writing for the Humanities. While it’s not always the best option to choose, it has its uses and should not be shunned completely.
What’s your favorite place on campus to write and why?
It’s a toss-up between the Olin Library stacks and Mann Library. The stacks in Olin are very isolating and quiet, and make for a good work space when I feel like I really need time and space to myself in order to write. Some days, though, I get too distracted by my own thoughts in the Olin stacks – I get sidetracked and write less productively. On these days I like to go to Mann Library because it’s more open and less quiet. Plus, there’s Manndible Café!