Every spring, the Cornell Writing Centers go through a rigorous hiring process and tutor training program. We collect and review applications in early February; we host group interviews with up to 50-60 applicants; and then, we invite about 15-20 of the applicants to complete a 7-week tutor training course. The tutor training course involves reading scholarship from rhetoric and composition; on theories of writing, tutor pedagogy and practice; and supporting diverse language users. Trainees practice reading and responding to student writing and writers, and reflect on flexible strategies for writing and working with writers.
After this intensive semester, the Cornell Writing Centers start the following fall semester joined by a group of smart, thoughtful, engaged, and kind new tutors who are excited to work with writers at Cornell. We are proud of their commitment and diligence in training, and thus, we want others to have the opportunity to meet this new cohort of writing tutors and learn about their different interests, writing processes, and their “why” for tutoring.
What is your writing process like? What's your favorite or least favorite part about writing?
I will typically jump headfirst into the process by starting out with a key idea, and then work to slowly wrap a coherent story or argument around it. I don't usually plan a great deal, though I will pause and map things out if I feel stuck. –Larry Chen
Admittedly, my writing process all over the place. I like to spend a lot of time thinking and mentally planning out my writing. I think the hardest part is getting started on a new piece that seems intimidating in some way, but a good way I've found to ease into the writing process is to set a timer and focus for a few minutes. Sometimes, I will write half of a draft and realize that my paper is dull or that I've discovered a better idea. When revising, I tend to experiment with different sentence structures and paragraph placement until I'm content. My favorite part about writing is getting the opportunity to say something important and interesting about a topic. Unlike in conversation, your ideas do not risk getting interrupted and can be fully fleshed out. –Jiarui Hu
My writing process usually includes a planning stage where I make bullet points of all the points I want to make. After that, I will do a 'word dump' where I write everything out for each point. From there, I clean it all up and make transitions, and add the introduction and conclusion. My favorite part about writing is the final editing stages where I go through and make sure it all flows together. –Bianca Lewis
I like to brainstorm my ideas and write them all out. Then I create an outline of how all these are connected and choose the ones that fit a cohesive theme. Another weird thing I do is I prefer to write the introduction last as opposed to writing it at the beginning. My favorite part about writing is how there is always a way to improve and there’s no “perfect” piece of writing. Additionally, it sparks a lot of interesting discussions on the subject matter being written about. –Stephanie-Louise Agyemang
Normally I start by writing down all of my thoughts and ideas and then synthesizing them into the main points that I want to make in my argument. I then start typing up a rough draft with the basic structure of the essay and indicate sections that I haven't fully developed yet with brackets. This helps me to keep writing and not get stuck over some small detail. My favorite part about writing is when I can go back in and fill in all of those brackets. I feel like writing is often like putting together a puzzle for me, and it's the best feeling when I can finally see the bigger picture taking shape. –Tiffany Liu
My writing process involves constant revision. I'm always going back to edit my writing — to find words that land perfectly and that deliver the exact message I'm trying to convey. My favorite part about writing is building arguments. I love writing essays that require precise theses and encourage me to develop creative, well-grounded reasoning to support my main point. My least favorite part about writing is writer's block. Coming up with fresh ideas and new angles can be the biggest roadblock in my writing process. –Niko Nguyen
I always start my writing process with brainstorming—whether that means combing through a text for evidence I’m interested in, or thinking about personal experiences I might want to reflect on. This first stage, where I work through ideas I might pursue in a piece, always takes the longest. Once I solidify my central idea and decide on language to express it, I can just enjoy the process of piecing everything together! –Callista Wessells
I'm a big outliner, but once I finish outlining and start writing, I usually write for long periods of time without stopping -- I find that my writing is more cohesive when I get all my thoughts out in one sitting. I'm a perfectionist and tend to keep working on papers until the minute they're due. I met the deadline for my term paper last semester with twenty seconds to spare. My favorite part of writing is how I lose sense of time and my surroundings when constructing an argument. My least favorite part of writing is starting an assignment. –Jack Kubinec
My writing process depends heavily on starting with an outline. Even if I don't stick to the outline entirely, I cannot start a piece without having one. Next I write a very rough draft - I try to focus on just getting things down on the paper versus trying to write something 'good.' I usually like this rough draft more than I would have guessed but still edit it heavily. –Gena Koyn
Why is tutoring valuable work for you?
Tutoring allows me to see firsthand how my skills can help benefit other people, which is incredibly rewarding. I also think that in some ways, many students have never been taught how to approach writing and developed negative feelings towards it as a result. As a tutor, I can help to fill in the gaps in education and encourage students to rethink their relationship with writing, hopefully making them realize that everybody can be a writer. –Tiffany Liu
Writing can feel like such an individualistic endeavor, so I love that tutoring makes it more collaborative and communal. I see a lot of value in sharing your work with another person—it requires vulnerability but it is also such a great opportunity to examine the ways in which you communicate your own experience with the rest of the world! –Callista Wessells
I believe tutoring is a valuable work for me because it uplifts writers who were otherwise insecure or doubtful of their writing and strives to not only improve their writing but also encourage writers to better believe in their ideas and opinions while earning the highest grade possible. –Stephanie-Louise Agyemang
My writing process varies depending on everything from the project to the day of the week to my mood, but some of its staples are extensive reading, outlining with evidence before beginning a paper, and relatively little editing after the fact. I'd say my favorite part of academic writing is actually receiving feedback: it's very validating to hear that a professor enjoyed your paper, and at Cornell in particular feedback on my work has been incredibly detailed and helpful. –Kit Pyne-Jaeger
I find tutoring valuable because I love helping people (with writing in particular, but also with other subjects), and tutoring helps me gain experience in doing so! Having to work with someone in a constructive way also pushes me to be more critical of my own work, skillset, and knowledge base, as I am sharing my personal knowledge with someone else, and I wouldn't want to pass on any personal mistakes or errors. And, of course, tutoring is not a one-way street; I can and do learn things when helping others out with their writing, and I love that! –Larry Chen
Tutoring is valuable to me because I cherish the opportunity to create more confident writers. Writing can be very stressful for so many students and I see the opportunities that I have each week with students as an opportunity to turn that around. I also really enjoy learning from other people's writing. –Gena Koyn
Tutoring is valuable to me because I enjoy connecting with writers and finding ways to help them. I also think it is a really exciting process to see them improve and watch them take control of their piece. –Bianca Lewis
Tutoring has always been one of my favorite ways to learn while teaching others. It's a very rewarding experience to share knowledge and discuss ideas with another person, especially in the context of being a writing tutor. –Jiarui Hu
Tutoring is valuable to me because I believe that writing is self-expression, so I am helping writers better express and understand themselves when I tutor. I was terrified of writing until I had a high school English teacher who believed in me and helped me improve my writing, and I want to share that same sense of confidence with my peers at Cornell. –Jack Kubinec
Tutoring provides me with opportunities to connect with students and assist them in their writing journeys. Writing can be a very personal endeavor, so it's always gratifying to step into a session and collaboratively work tutees to improve their writing skills. –Niko Nguyen
I enjoy academic writing and, as an aspiring professor, hope to make a career out of writing, research, and supporting the forays of young people into those areas. Tutoring, for me, is an exciting opportunity to demonstrate to my peers what can be genuinely fun about academic writing and how to make what might seem like dry and dull assignments work for you. –Kit Pyne-Jaeger
What's something else you're into and doing?
I really enjoy crocheting! Right now, I'm working on some items to keep me warm this winter. –Gena Koyn
I have been tap dancing since I was very young, and have been a part of On Tap Dance Group at Cornell since my freshman year! –Tiffany Liu
This summer, I worked for an organization that provides legal services—free of charge—to those facing eviction. I’ve been continuing that work, although virtually, this fall. There is currently a moratorium on evictions in Seattle (where I’m from) due to Covid, but we’ve seen that some landlords continue to engage with the process of eviction. I speak directly with the people seeking our help and it’s given me a very particular look into how Covid has affected American lives. –Callista Wessells
I'm an avid birder, and am always out and about looking for our feathered friends! I especially love seeing new species ('lifers'), but it's always good to go out and just see what's around, even if they're blue jays, chickadees, or the local hawks you're seeing for the n'th time! I'm currently at 2297 species, and am always on the lookout to get a few more. –Larry Chen
Something else I have been doing recently is tutoring at the Learning Strategies Center for Spanish as well which I find really compliments my work as a writing tutor and is also a great way for me to practice my Spanish skills with students who are new to the language. –Bianca Lewis
During quarantine I've gotten into tabletop gaming, which has turned out to be a wonderful way to interact with close friends virtually and combines my favorite aspects of creative writing and acting with quick thinking, improvisation, and dramatic moments. Whether you opt for one of the classics, like Dungeons & Dragons, or a more recent indie RPG, I'd highly recommend it to anyone struggling to find activities for themselves and friends that can be done over Zoom. –Kit Pyne-Jaeger
I produce rap beats for the Cornell Hip-Hop Collective. Our theme this semester is social justice, so I have been crafting beats that evoke different themes pertaining to social justice. –Jack Kubinec
I am into reading books my recommended. Be it professional authors or fan fiction written by ordinary writers, I like to read them and discuss or gush about the storyline with the said friends. –Stephanie-Louise Agyemang
One of the things I enjoy doing in my free time is running. I love running outside on my own or with the Track and Field Club. It's a great way for me to take a break and relieve stress! –Jiarui Hu
I've recently been trying to explore more of Ithaca; going on hikes and walks around Ithaca has been super therapeutic! –Niko Nguyen
Make an appointment with any of these awesome new tutors today!