Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Do you have a hallmate, friend or classmate who is a good listener, advice giver, or generally the type of person with whom you’d feel comfortable talking about your writing? Please please please nominate him or her to be a Writing Associate. Although I have worked as a Writing Associate going on three years now, I am not writing as a Senior WA, but rather as a Senior writer: someone about to leave behind four years of five-page responses, eight-page critiques, 20-page final papers and even job applications a much stronger writer because of the Swarthmore College Writing Program. WAs helped me freshman year when I was freaked out by a French paper, sophomore year when I was unsure of how to get my history outline started, junior year when I wanted to give my critique papers that extra edge, and last week when I needed to cut over 500 words from a personal statement.
Suffice it to say, this resource has been important to me, and it can be to you as well. I want the Writing Program to be as strong as it possibly can, and that starts with the students nominated as WAs between now and next Wednesday, February 27th.
There are a lot of misconceptions about the Writing Program and about the WA application process. Yes, you have to be nominated in order to apply, but anyone can nominate you! That’s right, not just professors, but also your friends, your roommates, your classmates; send me an email and I’ll nominate you right now (email@example.com).
Do you have to be the best writer ever ever in the whole entire world and the biggest grammar nerd to apply to be a WA? No, of course not. There is a course that you will take for a full credit the first semester you are a WA to train your for the job and bolster your technical skills, in addition to giving you some theory behind the practice. In my mind, more than anything a WA needs people skills. The WA conferences that have helped me the most as a writer are the ones where my WA was a good communicator, able to make me feel comfortable and confident about my writing and to give clear and accessible feedback.
So, if you’re interested about the job, get yourself nominated! And if you really don’t want to be the one with key-card access to the Writing Center, nominate someone else who would make you want to bring your next paper in.