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Remote tutoring and study groups provided through spring semester. Please see details in the announcement.


Spring 2020 Hours

**All writing tutoring will be held online via Zoom. All hours are now offered by appointment. Go to your Starfish homepage, find the link to writing tutoring, and make an appointment.

Sunday,  2 p.m - 10 p.m.
Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. 

Friday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.



Writing is conversation. When you write, you enter a conversation with yourself, your readers, and the people whose work you reference in your paper. You probably also talk about your writing: with friends, classmates, parents, and maybe even your professor. Our peer tutors are experts at talking about writing. By listening to your concerns and asking questions, our tutors can help you break through your writing blocks and express yourself clearly. Come join the conversation!

What to Expect

If you’re reading this page, you might be wondering what it’s like to have a writing tutor. Some of you may have been tutored before at previous schools; some of you may have never asked for help (and if you’re one of those people, we are glad you’re taking a chance on us!). No matter what your previous experience, we’re here to help – and the way we help might be different than what you’ve experienced before. 

Who Are Our Tutors?

For starters: Penn State Learning’s writing tutors are all undergraduates! This means they’re peer tutors, and that they approach working with writers from an angle of collaboration and creation rather than one of remediation. There’s no “We have all the answers! You have all the problems!” mindset, here: our tutors aren’t here to correct you or copy-edit your paper. In fact, we prohibit that sort of editing work in the writing center. Instead, they’re here to have a conversation with you about writing. 

Our undergraduate writing tutors have all undergone a full semester of coursework and training to be able to best help you in your writing goals. Our tutors aren’t just English majors, either – we have chemical engineers, political science majors, psych majors, you name it! They come from a broad variety of ethnic, educational, and personal backgrounds and their commitment to bringing their whole selves to each tutorial is something of which we’re very proud. Our tutors frequently present at regional, national and international writing center conferences (like the Middle Atlantic Writing Center Association Conference, the National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing, and the International Writing Center Association Conference) and we see them as practicing experts in their field: peer tutoring. 

A select group of our tutors also serve as student editors of the National Conference for Peer Tutoring in Writing’s widely known newsletter, The Dangling Modifier. The DM is a longterm project at Penn State and receives submissions from authors all over the world – we’re very proud of it! And we are proud of how hard our tutors work to make the newletter a success.

How Do They Tutor?

Because our tutors practice collaborative tutoring, you should be aware that they will not copy-edit your paper or “check it for mistakes.” Instead, they will likely start the tutorial by talking with you about your writing process: What are your concerns? What parts of the paper do you like best? How do you see your writing connecting to your prompt or project goals? Next, they will likely ask you to read your paper (or a portion of it) out loud to them. This practice allows you to “hear” mistakes or grammatical errors, and also helps ground your writing in both your mind and the tutors. Following that step, the tutor will discuss with you the concerns or questions you’ve shared as they connect to the writing you’ve just read together. They’ll help you identify your own weak spots and empower you with the tools to improve them! Our tutors will never edit or write on your paper; they can’t “give you the answers” – we believe that all the answers can and must come from you! You’re the expert on your chosen topic; we’re just here to talk with you and help you fire your engine forward. 

These practices are the same whether or not the writers with whom our tutors work identify as ESL writers or native English speakers. While we understand that many ESL writers are pursuing fluency and would like to focus on grammar and nuanced linguistics, we do believe those goals can be addressed through collaboration and conversation – a passive pen policy – rather than line-editing. 

So, How Can You Arrange Tutoring? 

We offer drop-in and appointment hours as well as online tutoring by appointment. By “drop-in,” we mean you’re welcome to just stop on by while we’re open; during the summer, we have tutors available from 12M until 5PM on Mondays-Thursdays. During fall and spring semesters, drop-in hours are 2PM-10PM, and we have appointment slots available, too. If you would rather schedule an appointment than visit drop in hours, you will do so using our appointment scheduler in Starfish.  

Contact Report Forms

In some cases, your professor may wish to receive a record of your having attended a tutorial session with us. If your professor requests proof that you were tutored, please ask your tutor to complete a contact report form. They’ll be happy to do so! If you’re a professor, and you request these forms: We usually get them sent out once a week, since it takes time to monitor the forms, edit them, and then get them sent to you. If you think a form is missing or would like to inquire about a student’s session, feel free to contact Cynthia Spiegel 

Want to Know More?

To learn more about how to schedule appointments (whether for online tutoring, face-to-face appointments in 220 Boucke, or multilingual tutoring), click here. 

To learn more about drop-in hours and what to expect during a writing tutorial, click here. 

Please note: because tutoring is a conversation between you and the tutor, papers cannot be dropped off or emailed to us for proofreading or editing. 

Please Note:


More Helpful Links:

Frequently Asked Questions:

What do you charge for tutoring?

We do not charge a fee for our services. If you’re enrolled as a current Penn State student, your tuition covers the cost of tutoring.

Can you help with personal statements or cover letters?

Yes! All of our tutors can help with personal statements and cover letters. Just for the record, we can help you with any genre of writing (research papers, personal statements, poems, lab reports, etc.) at any stage of the writing process. If you have an assignment but don’t know what to write about, we can help. If you have a draft that you hate, we can help (Don’t hate! Collaborate!). If you’re not sure whether you’ve properly cited your paper, we can help.

What we CANNOT do is edit or proofread your paper. We cannot go through it line by line and correct all of the mistakes. Instead, we can identify your most common errors and explain grammatical concepts so that you can learn to edit your paper yourself.

What will people think if they know I get tutoring?

If they’re smart, they’ll applaud your resourcefulness and commitment to your education. If they’re super-smart, they’ll be inspired to see a writing tutor for their own work.

Will my professor know I met with a writing tutor?

If you’d like your tutor to email a summary of your session to your professor, you can fill out a contact report form. Otherwise, we will keep your session confidential.

I need to make up my peer review session. Can I do that with a writing tutor?

Yes and no. You can certainly meet with a writing tutor for a tutoring session, and you can request that your professor be notified of your visit. However, our tutors will not fill out peer review worksheets for you.

Can I drop my paper off to be edited and pick it up later?

Nope. That would sort of defeat the whole point of tutoring as conversation and collaboration. As someone smart probably said at some point, “Edit my paper for me, and I will learn nothing. Help me learn to edit my own paper, and I will be able to edit my own paper.”

I met with a writing tutor but still got a C on my paper. What’s up with that?

Here’s the thing about conversation: it has little to do with grades. We can talk to you about your writing, help you see your paper from a reader’s perspective, point out gaps or incoherence, help you plan your revisions, and even help you learn how to use commas and semicolons. What we can’t do is write your paper for you. Writing takes time and planning. It usually takes several drafts. So, if you visit a writing tutor and still get a C on your paper, we suggest the following:

  1. read your professor’s comments and humbly ask for clarification if you don’t understand them
  2. start your next paper earlier
  3. try to visit a writing tutor two or three times before the due date.

Can I be a peer writing tutor?

Students interested in tutoring writing should apply to take the peer writing tutor preparation course, English 250. For details, see our Employment: Writing Tutor web page. Upon recommendation from the instructor, we also hire as tutors a limited number of students who have completed APLNG 250, the ESL peer tutor course.

Contact Information:

Cynthia Spiegel, M.F.A.
Interim Co-Curricular Programs Coordinator, Writing and Languages
Penn State Learning
Office Address: 206 Boucke Building
Phone: (814) 865-0259