University of Minnesota
student writing support
center for writing

Student Writing Support.Center for Writing's home page. appointments

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Like our face-to-face consultations, online appointments are collaborative, student-centered conversations about writing. Unlike appointments in Nicholson, where consultants read and discuss your paper when you arrive, consultations involve three parts:

  1. In mySWS, you will make an appointment for an online chat and will provide your writing and your specific questions.
  2. Ninety minutes before your online chat, a writing consultant will read and respond to your document. By 45 minutes before your online chat, you will be able to read the comments on mySWS.
  3. You and the consultant will discuss your document in a 40-minute online chat. In this collaborative online conversation, you and the consultant can address your questions and concerns, talk through revisions, and strategize about what to do next.

     image representing the 3 parts of the consultation

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How to make an consultation

You can make an appointment in mySWS on the Make an Appointment page. You will choose a time for an online chat with a writing consultant and provide the document you want feedback on.

What you’ll need for making your online consultation appointment

  • your class and work calendar for scheduling the online chat
  • a digital version of your document
  • materials you can use to help the consultant understand the context of your writing project and focus on your questions and concerns: the assignment sheet, the syllabus, in-class notes, previous drafts or feedback on your writing, etc.
  • your specific questions and concerns for the consultant to focus on

What to expect after you’ve provided your document and questions

  • About 45 minutes before your chat time, you will receive an email stating that your consultant has read and responded to your document and questions. You can assume that the consultant spent about 40 minutes reading and responding.
  • This email will contain a link to your Access My Visits page, where you can read the consultant's comments. From this page you can also go to the Google document in My Drive and make revisions based on the consulant's comments.
  • At your scheduled chat time, you will enter the chat from your Access My Visits page.
  • Online chats last about 40 minutes.
  • When the chat has ended, you will be able to read, download, and print a transcript of the chat and a read-only version of the document when the chat was completed. You will also own the editable Google document, which you will be able to access through your Access My Visits page and through your Google Drive.
  • The consultant’s goal is to help you develop writing strategies to apply to this particular paper/project and future work.

How to get helpful consultant comments

  • Provide context for the document—explain the assignment, and if you include only part of a long paper, explain what comes before and after the part you include.
  • Be specific about what you want the consultant to focus on. If you don't, they may tell you what you already know or focus on something you don't care about.
  • Remember that the consultant will have 40 minutes to read and comment on your document.

How to take full advantage of the online chat

  • If possible, read the consultant's comments and begin revising the paper before the chat. Note what consultant comments you want to discuss.
  • If you need time to finish reading the consultant's comments during the chat, tell the consultant, who will wait until you have read them.
  • During the chat, both you and the consultant can write on the document. You can make revisions and the consultant can comment on them.
  • Ask the consultant for clarification of any comments you don't understand.
  • Discuss your ideas during your online chat—you may be able to use your explanations in the paper itself.
  • We discourage the use of a smartphone for the online chat; writers often experience technical issues when doing so.

To learn more about what to expect and how to get the most from your visit to the Center, look at our general and graduate-student-focused informational handouts.

Please be aware of the Center's important policies related to appointments, privacy, and identification.

This link will bring you to mySWS, an online interface through which you can manage many aspects of your SWS writing consultations.

For more on mySWS, read the description on the SWS home page.

Note: will work best in Google Chrome and will not work with Internet Explorer. If you have prevented browser dialog boxes or pop-ups from showing up, mySWS and will not work correctly. In addition, to use, you must be using your University of Minnesota–Twin Cities account. Gopher Mail and non-UMN gmail accounts will not work.

Ongoing research and development to improve have been generously supported by the CLA Information Technology Fees Committee.