Writing mentors are Grinnell students who train as peer writing consultants: they provide feedback to fellow students on their writing, helping them explain ideas, develop arguments, analyze evidence, and organize and revise drafts. The goal of the writing mentors program is not merely to give informed advice about specific writing assignments but also to encourage Grinnellians’ ongoing growth as confident, independent, and effective writers.
Most writing mentors are placed with writing intensive classes; with the guidance of the professor, they work with everyone in the class, reading drafts of assigned papers and/or meeting with writers to discuss revision options and strategies. Writers then revise their papers before submitting them to the professor for a grade. A few writing mentors work afternoon or evening hours at satellite locations, such as Burling Library or the HSSC atrium. Some experienced mentors work on special projects, such as revising the Grinnell Guide to Writing, Research, and Speaking or serving on the hiring committee that reads writing mentor applications and interviews candidates.
More information about the program, including a list of current writing mentors, is available on our GrinnellShare site (secure login required).
Training for the Program
New writing mentors enroll in WRT 301: Teaching and Tutoring Writing (cross-listed as EDU 301), a 4-credit course that prepares students for the work of mentoring and also encourages mentors to grow as writers themselves. Together, participants study how writing works: how writers write and revise, how writing interacts with thinking, how it varies across academic fields and social/cultural contexts, how it can best be learned and taught. They also conduct their own research on a writing-related topic of their choosing.
The course is offered in both fall and spring semesters. New writing mentors have enrollment priority, but the course is open to all Grinnell students who have at least second-year standing and/or who have completed a 200-level writing intensive course. Students are welcome to enroll in the course before applying to be a writing mentor.
Faculty who know of students who are strong candidates for the program are welcome to send nominations to Tisha Turk, the writing center director and writing mentors program director, and should also consider directly encouraging the students to apply.
The program application is generally posted in December and due early in the spring semester.
The program welcomes applications from students of any major who are interested in writing, tutoring, or teaching. The best writing mentors demonstrate genuine curiosity about others’ ideas, engage thoughtfully and tactfully with their peers, and seek feedback on their own writing through visits to the Writing, Reading, and Speaking Center or conversations with peers or professors.
The most common timeline is to apply during one’s second year at Grinnell to start work during the third year. Juniors who want to start work as seniors are also welcome to apply. A few mentors apply as first-year students and begin work during their second year.