Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the University Writing Center located?

The University Writing Center is now located in Founders Memorial Library 260.

How much does a session cost?

Our standard session services are free. Our dissertation/thesis boot camps are fee-based. Contact Gail Jacky at for further information.

Do I have to be an NIU student?

NIU students, faculty and staff members receive first priority in scheduling. Others in the NIU community can schedule appointments, if openings are available.

If you're an NIU student, you can use our online scheduling system to make an appointment. You'll need to use your Z-ID to access the system.

If you're an NIU faculty/staff member or otherwise part of the NIU community, please call 815-753-6636 or contact Gail Jacky at to discuss your options.

Where can I park?

Founders Memorial Library  is next to the Visitor Lot, so if you do not have a parking pass, you can conveniently park near the building. If you have a yellow or blue pass, then the parking garage is probably your best option.

Remember parking in central campus can be challenging at certain times during the day. Please plan ahead.

How do I make an appointment?

Most of the University Writing Center sessions are conducted face-to-face one-on-one. Each session generally lasts 30 or 60 minutes; however, no more than two sessions can be scheduled each day and no sessions can be back to back with the same coach.

We also do scheduled 60 minute Google Hangout sessions. You will need to do a set up session prior to the writing-focused sessions.

Learn more about how to set up an appointment.

Can I request a specific coach?

All of our writing coaches are highly trained, friendly and ready to help. That said, if you want to work with a particular coach, we will try to accommodate your preference.

What kind of writing can I bring in?

We can help you with any type of writing, from academic to informal. This includes essays for class, blog posts, resumes, scholarship essays and more.

What's the late policy?

For a half-hour appointment, you have a five-minute grace period. If you arrive during the grace period, you get to keep your appointment. If you arrive later, there won't be enough time for the appointment, and you'll be asked to reschedule.

For an hour appointment, you have a 10-minute grace period. If you arrive during the grace period, you get to keep your appointment. However, if you are more than 10 minutes late, your appointment may be given to someone else. Being late does not automatically forfeit your appointment, but we won't hold the slot for you.

What will happen during my session?

You'll walk into the University Writing Center location, give your name to the receptionist and take a seat. You'll be given a session form to fill out. We need to know what class you're there for and your instructor's name. If you're not there for a class, use the class line to write the type of writing you have brought with you, such as scholarship essay or resume.

At the appointed time, your coach will show you to a table and guide you through your session. Depending on your preference, either you or your coach will read your paper out loud, and you'll both discuss the document and your writing. This is a collaborative process focused on helping you improve your writing skills. While the coach is there to work with you, you're responsible for marking your paper and making changes.

Some instructors require proof of your visit. If you need proof, please let the coach know. A confirmation of the session information will be emailed to you.

Do I have to fill out the session sheet?

Yes. We have to track every session, so we need all of the information filled out.

Because we have a new schedule system, we are still using the forms as a cross check. Hopefully in the future, we will no longer need the paper forms.

How many copies of my paper will I need?

In a perfect world, we would like two hard copies: one for you and one for us. However, we understand that printing is not always possible, so we can work with one hard copy and an electronic copy. If you only have one hard copy and no electronic copy, you'll have to take notes on the hard copy. If the coach writes on the hard copy, we have to keep it as our work product. You may not take our notes with you, you may not copy it after the session, and you may not take pictures of it. No exceptions will be made.

We encourage you to bring your own laptop if you want to work on an electronic version.

Can I make an appointment for a group project?

Yes. When you make your appointment, you must specify that your appointment is for a group project. We'll need to know how many members are in your group and the names of all members. Be sure to schedule an appointment that everybody can attend, as a session cannot occur unless all group members are present. We cannot make exceptions to this rule.

Can I meet with a coach over the weekend?

No. The UWC is not open on weekends.

Is the UWC open during spring break, the winter holidays or the summer?

The UWC director, Gail Jacky, is sometimes available during breaks. Email to determine her availability. The UWC is open during the summer semester, although there are limited hours and a small staff.

I don't really need a session, but my instructor requires me to come in. Can I just have a sheet stamped?

No. The purpose of the UWC is to help you develop your writing skills as a means of communication and self-expression, which is probably why your instructor recommended you come in the first place. If all we provided you was a stamped paper, we would be doing both you and your work a disservice. We're interested in your development as a writer and as a student, so doing anything but coaching you through a session would be dishonest. Come prepared to work.

Can I just email you my paper?

The short answer is not really. Working with the UWC is a collaborative process, and you're a big part of that process. We do have Google Hangout appointments. During these sessions, you and your coach view a Google Doc at the same time and discuss your writing.

What if there are no available appointments and I need my paper looked at by a certain day?

If there are no available appointments, all of our coaches are booked to work with other students, faculty or community members. We recommend making your appointments early in the semester to avoid running out of time. The system is set up to allow scheduling throughout the entire semester. Plan ahead!

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