So you haven’t written in a classroom setting in a while…

Shows Multiple people walking past eachother at a fast pace in a hallway.

GSU has a diverse student body, and that is reflected in who we tutor at the Writing Studio. We realize that not everyone that comes through our doors (er… screens?) is an undergraduate student who came straight into college from high school or a graduate student who started their program immediately after finishing their previous degree. Going to school after being away from it for a bit can be scary, and the transition involved in becoming a student again can be difficult, especially when it comes to writing. Many of us tutors have “gaps” in our academic timeline, too, so here’s some advice from people who fall into that “non-traditional student” category:

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Bailey says...

“Not to sound like an advertisement, but utilizing peer review and writing center assistance is the key. I always advise non-traditional students to google questions they have about writing, as there are tons of articles and blogs (like this one!) to bring you up-to-date about what the general expectations are. But talking with a colleague/classmate or having a productive session with a writing center tutor gives you that real-world, right-now perspective of what kind of expectations you should aim to meet. Also, Youtube. Youtube everything. Step-by-step visuals of how to do stuff.”

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Karen says...

“Use your experience! No matter what kind of work you were doing before (I was a food writer, server, tour guide, and library clerk) there were probably elements of composition or writing involved. Remember that writing is rhetorical, and you’re coming into academia with some interesting new expertise and perspectives. Don’t be ashamed of them, but rather use them to bring some texture and variety to academia (as appropriate, of course)”

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Leah says....

“Your writing will improve the more you write.  Embrace where you are and lets keeping working from here. Before you know it you will be writing better than you could have imagined.”

Natalie says...

“It’s kind of like riding a bike – your first time back on in a little while might be a little shaky, but in no time at all you’ll naturally get back into the flow of writing again. I’ve seen in many freshman students already this year the incredible development in their writing from their first assignment to the second.”

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Gabriella Says

“What helped me get back into academic writing was going back and reading some of the papers I wrote during undergrad. Another useful practice is reading. Immerse yourself in the kind of literature that you’ll be expected to write. One of the best ways to find your own authorial voice is to put it in context with others”

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Nicole says...

“I’m a first-generation college student (and one of the few in my family to even graduate high school). My experience involved always working through school, oftentimes two jobs in addition to my classes. I needed to really have a sense of time management, and I needed to prioritize personal time. I often felt like (and sometimes still do feel like) I need to always be go-go-go and always be productive. What I’ve learned is that I need to prioritize sleep and find a method for time management that works for me. I avoided all-nighters like the plague and set expectations for myself–regarding my school work, personal life, and work life–to make sure that in all areas I had an attainable sense of who I wanted to be and what I needed to do to get there. And, probably most importantly, I (shamelessly) asked for help whenever I needed it.”

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Nellie says...

“I am a non-traditional student/tutor and can empathize with the difficulties of that transition. My advice would be this: we all come to academia in our own time. Life experience is its own form of education and real-world skills will improve your academic skills.”

While I have been a near-constant student, my mom started a master’s degree this year after being out of school for about 25 years, and I have watched her transition to being a student and writing again. There’s a bit of a steep learning curve when it comes to time management, figuring out how much you can/should work, how many classes you should take, things like that, but while last semester she had me read all of her papers, this semester she hasn’t asked me to read any. She still struggles with writing, but she’s gotten some academic confidence back.

It’s hard to juggle school, jobs, family, and life, and just because we’re the tutors doesn’t mean we don’t struggle with it too. However, there are resources available when it comes to writing beyond us here at the Writing Studio.

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A Blog Post By Emily Pierce

Emily is a second-year Master’s student in Literary Studies. Her research focuses on multicultural literature of the American South, and she is currently writing her thesis on Lillian Smith and Foucault. Out of the various projects people bring to the Writing Studio, personal statements are her favorite. She loves watching people grow into better writers and is excited to be working in the Writing Studio for her last semester.