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Student Services & Resources

Hours

Monday through Friday,
8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

Drop-in Hours:
Sunday through Thursday,
7–10 p.m.
 

Two people working together in the Jacobson Center

The Jacobson Center offers a variety of services and resources, including individual writing conferences; the opportunity to use student tutors or serve as a student tutor; and workshops on time management, study skills, public speaking and other academic issues.

Writing Services

Professional writing instructors provide individual conferences for students working at any stage of the writing process. Writing instruction is available to all Smith students and any student currently enrolled in a class at Smith.

Half-hour appointments can be made up to two weeks ahead of time online: Register, make an appointment, and upload a draft well in advance to ensure a thorough reading. The longer the draft, the earlier you should upload it. You may also make an appointment to brainstorm ideas and get started.

Because the demand for appointments increases as the semester progresses, you should plan ahead and sign up early. If you should have to cancel, do so online no later than three hours before the appointment. Please be courteous: We often have a waiting list of students seeking appointments.

The writing instructors provide more intensive work on writing issues common to English language learners and to writers with learning disabilities.

In the evenings, peer writing tutors (students) perform a similar service, also at Seelye 307. No appointments are necessary. Drop-in hours are Sunday through Thursday, 7–10 p.m. (Don’t show up at 9:45!)

If you are a non-native speaker of English, the Jacobson Center has a number of services to assist you. All services are free.

Individual Writing Conferences

The Jacobson Center is a place where you can bring any writing you are working on—not just papers—at any stage of the writing process to receive expert, professional advice from writing instructors on all aspects of the writing. Writing instructors are not proofreaders or editors. Rather, they help you understand your writing patterns and teach you strategies for maximizing your strengths and addressing your weaknesses. Most conferences are half an hour in duration. Schedule a writing conference.

Non-native speakers do well to keep in mind the following:

  • Learning to speak and write (especially academic essays) in a second language is a long-term, difficult undertaking.
  • Errors are a natural part of language learning.
  • It may be unrealistic for non-native speakers to expect to be able to write like native speakers, certainly not without a lot of effort. Research shows that even non-native speakers who have lived in English-speaking countries for many years and write regularly in English maintain a written accent (like a foreign accent in pronunciation).
  • Focus on substance; do not worry constantly about style and mechanics.

For any further questions about writing services for non-native speakers, contact Miranda McCarvel, 413-585-3038.

English 118 ELL Sections

These small classes provide systematic instruction and practice in college-level expository writing and are specifically designed for students whose first language is not English.

Study Skills

The Jacobson Center offers workshops and individualized meetings in study skills and exam preparation. For more information, see Tutoring & Learning Specialist Services or contact Kelly Vogel, 413-585-3037.

Tutoring

The Jacobson Center offers peer tutoring to help you get through challenging course material. For more information, see Tutoring & Learning Specialist Services or contact Kelly Vogel, 413-585-3037.

Peer writing tutors are students who have been hired and trained to serve as a constructive audience for all stages of your writing. In addition to possessing strong writing skills, a peer writing tutor must have a thoughtful understanding of the writing process, sensitivity to difficulties that student writers encounter, and considerable good judgment, patience and tact.

How to Use Peer Writing Tutors

Peer writing tutoring is available throughout the semester. Writing tutors can always be found in the Jacobson Center, Sunday through Thursday nights, from 7–10 p.m. No appointments are necessary. If you’d like a writing tutor to review your draft at any stage of the writing process, just drop by Seelye Hall 307 or another designated location. Be aware, though, that certain times of the semester, such as midterm, may be busier than others. So plan ahead and come early!

How to Become a Peer Writing Tutor

A student who is interested in becoming a peer writing tutor must be nominated by a faculty member. After submitting an application and a writing sample, the student is interviewed by the supervisor of the Peer Writing Tutor Program. Each year, the Jacobson Center hires only seven or eight tutors, so becoming one can be very competitive.


Tutoring & Learning Specialist Services

Tutoring: Peer Writing and Content

We offer both writing and content tutors for individual and group sessions to support learning in all classes. Our tutoring program has been certified by the College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA), and more than 50 peer tutors receive ongoing training and support.

Peer writing tutors hold drop-in hours from 7–10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday in the center.

Peer content tutors are hired for non-quantitative courses (primarily language courses) by appointment. Students may receive one hour of tutoring per week for each subject requested. To request a tutor, fill out a Request for Tutoring Form. For general questions regarding content tutoring, please email Kelly Vogel, tutoring services coordinator.

Learning Specialist

You may make an appointment with Kelly Vogel for support with academic challenges and to learn effective strategies for organization, time management, study habits, reading and note-taking, test-taking and maintaining motivation. 

Applied Learning Strategies Course

More details to come.

We offer informal lunch-hour workshops each semester on writing, public speaking and study skills. It is not necessary to preregister, and you may bring a grab-and-go lunch.

Lunch-Hour Workshops For Academic Success: Study Skills, Writing and Public Speaking

These informal workshops are held throughout each semester during the lunch hour (noon–1 p.m.) at the Jacobson Center. No preregistration is needed, and you may bring a grab-and-go lunch. Workshops are led by members of the Jacobson Center staff.

Interterm Workshops

In January, we often offer workshops on academic and creative writing, public speaking and study skills. No preregistration is necessary except for Make Your Case: Become A Stronger Public Speaker. Workshops are led by members of the Jacobson Center staff.

Check the News & Events box regularly to see current schedules.

The Jacobson Center offers students with learning disabilities opportunities to develop themselves academically.

If you give us permission, we can work with you and the Office of Disability Services to come up with the best plan possible.

What’s in it for you?

Study Skills and planning. You can meet with a learning specialist to develop an individualized, integrated plan to support you in all your coursework. Come in early in the semester to make a plan; don’t wait until crunch time to check us out.

Individual writing conferences. You can work on your writing at any stage with a professional writing instructor. These meetings can happen on a regular basis or as needed. 

Workshops. You can attend lunch-hour workshops to improve your study skills.

Tutoring. You can meet one-on-one with student tutors for non-quantitative courses.

Other Resources to Improve Your Writing

If you struggle with writing, you are also encouraged to take ENG118/Colloquia in Writing. English 118 provides you with consistent, systematic instruction and practice in writing. If you take the course, we recommend that you:

  1. Identify yourself to your instructor as a student with a learning disability
  2. Share with your instructor any information you may have about your learning disability
  3. Give your instructor permission to review your records with the disability services director. This way, we can work out a plan that meets your needs and goals.

Questions?

For more information about individual writing conferences, contact Julio Alves, 413-585-3033. For more information about study skills and tutoring, contact Kelly Vogel, 413-585-3037.

Public Speaking Resources

Public Speaking Course

The Jacobson Center writing instructors teach a course in the Art of Effective Speaking. This one-credit course gives students systematic practice in the range of public speaking challenges they will face in their academic and professional careers. During each class meeting, the instructor presents material on an aspect of speech craft and delivery; each student then gives a presentation reflecting mastery of that week’s material. The instructor films each student’s presentations and reviews them in individual conferences. During one class meeting, the students will review and analyze videos of notable speeches.

The course has two sections, limited to 10 students each. Classes are held during the first six weeks of the spring semester. Conferences will be scheduled separately.
Instructors: Debra Carney, Peter Sapira

Consult the Smith College Course Search for specific meeting times.

Course Search


Grammar & Punctuation Videos

To supplement The Writing Process Series and Writing Papers, we recommend the following video lessons that address issues of grammar, punctuation and mechanics.

Sentence Types and Sentence Errors: Run-ons, Comma Splices and Fragments
Using Commas and Semicolons
Subject-Verb Agreement
Pronouns
Modifiers
Capitalization Rules
 

Helpful Links

Writing

The Elements of Style

Smith Library Citation Guides
 

Grammar Guides

The OWL at Purdue 
The Online Writing Lab at Purdue University provides a selection of printable handouts with clear explanations of a wide variety of grammar points and exercises. Recommended for ELL students.

Guide to Grammar and Writing
Written by Professor Charles Darling, Capital Community Technical College, this exhaustive grammar and writing guide offers concise explanations of rules.

English Language Centre Study Zone
This site provides simplified presentations of grammar rules and interactive exercises. 

Activities for ESL/EFL Students
Find self-study quizzes without preliminary explanations, which can be a useful resource for motivated students.

Study Skills 

How to Study
This site breaks down how to study in every discipline, including reading and note-taking strategies.

Study Guides and Strategies
Resources for reading, note-taking, exam prep, organization, time management, writing, tutoring, group work and more.

ESL Cafe
Resource for ESL issues.

Cynthia Arem's Home Page
Study tips by psychology professor with a focus on math and sciences, math anxiety, test anxiety.

Harvard Bureau of Study Council
Handouts on a wide range of learning issues including focus, decision-making, ESL learning, procrastination, perfectionism, reading and discipline.

California Polytech’s Study Skills
Oonline library for study skills improvement.