Student Services & Resources
The Jacobson Center offers 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.
To learn about how to make a writing appointment at the Jacobson Center, watch our Online Scheduling Tutorial.
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.
The Jacobson Center offers workshops and individualized meetings in study skills and exam preparation. For more information, see Tutoring & Learning Specialist Services or contact Duncan Griffin, 413-585-3037.
The Jacobson Center offers peer tutoring to help you get through challenging course material. For more information, see Tutoring & Learning Specialist Services or contact Duncan Griffin, 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. Scheduled appointments with the writing tutors can be made during weekdays using Writing Center Online. They are also available for walk-in appointments (first-come, first-served!) in the Neilson Library Learning Commons, Sunday through Wednesday, plus Friday, 1–4 p.m., and Sunday through Thursday 7–10 p.m.
If you’d like a writing tutor to review your draft at any stage of the writing process, simply make an appointment through Writing Center Online or drop into the library during their hours. Be aware, though, that certain times of the semester, such as midterm, may be busier than others—so plan your session ahead of time!
How to Become a Peer Writing Tutor
Students interested in becoming peer writing tutors should contact Sara Eddy. Students will submit applications, resumes, and writing samples, and will go through an interview process.
Meet the Peer Writing Tutors
The Jacobson Center Peer Writing Tutors are available for drop-in services in the Neilson Learning Commons almost every day. If you’re unable to find an appointment at the Jacobson Center that fits your schedule, or you prefer the flexibility of just stopping by to have someone look at your work, we have peer tutors on stand-by. Sessions are first come, first served, so show up early!
Drop-In Hours (Neilson 108j, in the Learning Commons)
1–4 p.m. Sundays through Wednesdays, plus Fridays
7–10 p.m.Sundays through Thursdays.
All Jacobson Center Peer Writing Tutors have specialties in their majors and other fields as listed below, but they are trained to work with writers in all subjects.
Nell Adkins ’23 | she/her
Government and Dance
Specialities include dance and theater history/criticism, Jewish studies, Yiddish literature, international relations, social sciences and humanities.
Wumei Blanche ’22 | she/they
Biological Sciences (Pre-med track)
Specialities include STEM writing/communication and the humanities.
Jane Brinkley ’24 | she/her
Specialities include queer and feminist studies, French.
Elizabeth Emmons ’23 | she/her
Specialities include writing for social sciences, journalism, English literature.
Emma Geissinger Cutchins ’24 | she/her
Geosciences and German Studies
Specialities include science writing and communication, humanities and world literatures.
Elina Gordon-Halpern ’23 | she/her
Statistics & Data Sciences and Sociology
Specialities include creative writing, public speaking and data/technical writing.
Anna Gyorgy ’24AC | she/her
Philosophy and Landscape Studies
Specialities include philosophy, literature, creative writing and landscape studies.
Rachel Gorman-Cooper ’23 | she/her
Specialities include landscape studies, government, historical costume, Jewish studies and creative non-fiction.
Norma Jean Haynes ’23AC | she/her
Education and French
Specialities include English, French and music history.
Ari Jewell ’22 | they/them
Study of Women and Gender
Specialities include journalism, creative writing, government, music and public speaking.
Lizzie Kalvesmaki ’22 | she/her
Specialties include English, study of women and gender, and the humanities.
Emily Woo Kee ’22 | she/her
Specialities include social sciences, specifically sociology and the study of women and gender, and Latin American studies.
Caty Maloney ’22 | she/her
Sociology and Chinese Languages & Cultures
Specialities include sociology, East Asian studies, social sciences and the humanities.
Elisabeth Nesmith ’22 | she/her
Sociology and Statistics & Data Sciences
Specialities include sociology, humanities, statistics and data science.
Stephaney Perez ’23 | she/her
Psychology and Latin American Studies
Specialities include psychology, the humanities and social sciences. Interest in writing for more non-academic/general public.
Charlotte Rubel ’22 | she/her
English and Spanish
Specialties include art, art history, the humanities and biology.
Leo Smith ’22 | they/them
English and Spanish, Poetry Concentration
Specialties include English literature, world literature and creative writing.
Suzanna Strauss ’23 | she/her
Government and History
Specialties include government, American history, women’s history and the humanities.
The Jacobson Center offers both writing and content tutors for individual and group sessions to support learning in many non-quantitative fields. 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.
The Jacobson Center writing instructors take appointments 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; peer writing tutors join them for scheduled appointments from 9 a.m.–noon. Peer writing tutors are also available for walk-in sessions in the Neilson Library Learning Commons 1–4 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, plus Friday, and 7–10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. Please email Sara Eddy, assistant director of the Jacobson Center, if you have any questions or would like to inquire about becoming a peer writing tutor.
Peer content tutors are hired for non-quantitative courses (at present, mostly language courses) by appointment. Students may receive one hour of tutoring per week for each subject requested. You can make an appointment online. For general questions regarding content tutoring, please email Duncan Griffin, coordinator of tutorial services.
Please email or make an appointment with Learning Specialist Duncan Griffin for support with academic challenges and/or to learn effective strategies for organization, time management, study habits, reading, test-taking and finding balance. Learn more about Duncan.
Applied Learning Strategies Course
IDP 136: Applied Learning Strategies is offered each semester, and supports students with time management, organization, goal-setting, and many other topics. An important aspect of this course is helping students find balance while still achieving academic goals. This is a 1-credit, 6-week course and is open to all students. For more information, please email Duncan Griffin, Learning Specialist, or make an appointment by clicking the link above.
Please note that Lunch-Hour Workshops for Academic Success are currently on hold for the fall semester. However, Duncan Griffin, learning specialist, is available to discuss these issues individually. Please schedule a session with him using his online schedule. The subjects of these workshops and individual meetings cover a variety of topics such as time management, note-taking, handling a heavy reading load, test-preparation and motivation.
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 & Updates 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.
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:
- Identify yourself to your instructor as a student with a learning disability
- Share with your instructor any information you may have about your learning disability
- 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.
You may find it challenging to balance a rigorous course load with athletics, organization, research and jobs. These handouts offer planning and study tips to become a more effective and efficient student.
Click on the titles below to download these handouts.
The Art of Effective Speaking
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.
Instructor: Peter Sapira
Consult the Smith College Course Search for specific meeting times.
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.
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.
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.