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Postcard from an Online Writing Tutor

By Virginia MacCallum

online tutoring studentLinfield is a member college in a group of some 30 colleges and universities in the NorthWest region participating in an online college tutoring program, called the NW e-Tutoring Consortium. For the last few months, I have been an online writing tutor for the program.

While I also teach writing in the classroom, I find that tutoring online is a rich experience, although it is different than the conventional classroom.  Online, I can be much more of a one-on-one writing coach, establishing a relationship with a particular individual at a specific time and on a specific product of writing.  It becomes a personal contact with a student I will probably never see in person, but it is nonetheless interesting and enriching.

I have the opportunity to read papers for many disciplines and purposes.  While it’s true that most of what we writing tutors see are essays and research documents from English composition and literature classes, students also submit written documents for virtually every college subject.  A glance at the list of submissions awaiting help reveals applications for scholarships and admission to programs, nursing notes and documents, literature reviews for varied subjects, psychology research, gender studies, communications, comparisons of business management styles, critical analyses of photographic art, and so on.   Our goal as a group of writing tutors is respond to a student submission in 48 hours or less.  This noted, it would not be a wise idea to submit today a paper that must be turned in as final tomorrow morning!  We will help students with problems for which they seek input, but we do not ever revise, rewrite, or edit for students.

Another interesting aspect of online college tutoring is the opportunity it provides to work with students whose first language is not English. I really appreciate and respect the courage it takes for someone to write at college level in a language he or she has learned fairly recently!  Moreover, their stories are fascinating glimpses into other cultures that fill me anew with wonder at both the beautiful diversity of humanity and our commonalities as well.

Linfield Adult Degree Program students also have access to online tutoring in accounting, statistics, and math (developmental through calculus).   Many other subjects (not taught at Linfield) are also available to students from other colleges in our group.  Other services include live tutoring, which is an electronic chat setting, and offline questions, wherein the student submits a question to the tutor who will respond within 48 hours.

If you are a student who has access to an online tutoring service, take advantage of it! You will find qualified, trained tutors and teachers will respond to your questions.  You can submit work any time of the day or night and any day of the week.  In addition, you may have available to you an almost-synchronous situation like a chat room with a tutor in your subject, which can be very helpful.   Help can be as near as your laptop computer, so come see us.  We’ll be waiting for you!

Interested in learning more? Current Linfield ADP students can try out eTutoring services today by logging in with your CATnetID here. Prospective Linfield ADP students can contact Virginia MacCallum by email or phone, 541-888-7284

Virginia MacCallum is a writing tutor in the NW e-Tutoring Consortium and has been an Academic Advisor in the Linfield College Adult Degree Program for 15 years. She is a writing instructor at Southwestern Oregon Community College in Coos Bay, OR, and an active teacher and mentor in literacy training with adults for whom English is a second language.

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