Wait, the UWC can’t close; I still have papers to write!

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We have reached the last day of courses for the spring semester, which also means we have reached the last day that the Baylor University Writing Center will be open. We’ll pause here to give you a minute to ugly cry.

Thank you for your deep emotional investment. Now dash away those tears, because we can still help you even if we aren’t open for appointments! Below you will find a list of 5 resources and tips to help you navigate your final papers with such ease, you’ll think one of our consultants was sitting on your shoulder whispering sweet suggestions in your ear. You’ve got this; you possess all the tools needed to write those papers and submit them with confidence!

 

  1. Citations and formatting: One of the most stressful elements of writing a paper can be figuring out how to comply with the formatting and citation guidelines prescribed by your professor, especially if it’s a new style guide to you. STEM majors are always perplexed by ENG 1310’s MLA guidelines, just like Humanities majors want to cry when their PSYC 101 professor requires APA formatting. Style guides remind us that we’re all human, y’all. But don’t worry! Here is a link to Purdue Online Writing Lab’s (affectionately known as Purdue OWL) guides to the three most common styles. They have really helpful resources. We recommend looking at sample papers of each style, as just reading instructions doesn’t always make visualization easy.
    1. MLA: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_formatting_and_style_guide.html
    2. APA: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style/apa_formatting_and_style_guide/general_format.html
    3. Chicago/Turabian: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/chicago_manual_17th_edition/cmos_formatting_and_style_guide/chicago_manual_of_style_17th_edition.html
  2. Grammar and spelling: While the UWC’s main purpose is to help you develop higher order skills when it comes to your writing (such as awareness of audience, thesis statements, logical structure, etc), we recognize that concerns about grammar and spelling remain close to students’ hearts when it comes to feeling confident in their writing. To this end, many students find tools like Grammarly helpful, but even Microsoft Word’s spell and grammar check is a great start! See those red and blue squiggle lines on your essay? Right click on one to figure out if it’s an error you need to address, or just that Microsoft Word refuses to recognize that “fantabulous” is a real word in your dictionary.
  3. Read your paper aloud: If you have ever been to the UWC, you know that we always ask you to read your work aloud. And if you’ve ever been to the UWC, you know that this may be the most valuable editing tool. Our eyes are trained to skim and skip (think how quickly you scroll through your Insta feed…); in fact, you’re probably skimming this article right now! Skimming is a great tool, but not when you’re editing a paper. Slow down, read aloud, and force yourself to pay attention to each word. Odds are you’ll catch both spelling and grammar errors, identify repetition (when you realize you’ve said the same thing aloud 5 times, maybe it’s time to cut or consult a thesaurus), pick up on awkward wording, and realize abrupt paragraph transition. Do yourself a favor: read that paper aloud!
  4. Underline topic sentences: You know how everyone online has been posting thirst traps about their new knitting habit or their exhorbitant scrapbooking endeavors? Now it’s your turn! Pull out those highlighters and sticky tabs and start marking your topic sentences! Why do this? Well, you may find that some paragraphs have no topic sentences at all, some have multiple topic sentences, and others have a topic sentence but one that comes at the end of the paragraph instead of the beginning. Get crafty with those papers! Hilarious Memes for Crafters - Craftfoxes
  5. Reverse outlining: This is one of our most popular strategies at the UWC. Reverse outlining is where you read through each paragraph and try to condense it down to one condensed sentence. If you can’t, you clearly need to split the paragraph up so that each point can have it’s own real estate. Once you’ve done this with each paragraph, read each condensed sentence in order. Is there a logic to the progression? Should your points be rearranged? Is there a gap in your reasoning? These are all things that add up to big points on an essay grade, so go ahead and take the time to get cozy with your content.

 

We could go on and on, but we know you’d stop reading. Do you have any tried and true editing techniques? Share them below, we’d love to hear about them! Regardless, know that we are thinking of you all as you wrap up this weird semester and all that that entails. Good luck on your final projects, best wishes on your summer, and to our wonderful graduating seniors, our prayers and hopes go with you!

 

From everyone at Baylor UWC, we bid you a fond farewell and look forward to serving you again in the fall! (PSA: we will have limited summer hours for online appointments, so if you are taking summer classes, we will still be around to help J)

 

Quarantine Routine: How to Create a Sense of Normalcy When Everything is NOT Normal

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Well, let’s just begin by stating the obvious: this semester doesn’t look like how you planned. In all likelihood, you are reading this sitting in your childhood bedroom, wondering, “Gosh, why do I still have Star Wars sheets on my bed, and why does my mom still display all of my little league trophies in our living room?” Or perhaps you are still stuck on campus, looking at your painted cinderblock dorm room walls wondering if you could pad them, because deep down you’re asking yourself, “How many more to-go boxes from Penland before I go insane?”

 

We’re right there with you, friends. COVID-19 has certainly disrupted the carefully laid plans of both mice and men. For those of you who were preparing to graduate this spring, we mourn with you over the loss of a formal graduation ceremony. For those of you who are over the moon about the new pass/fail policy, we rejoice with you! But this isn’t a time to give up and lose hope, no matter what situation you are in.10 Coronavirus memes to cheer you up – DutchReview

 We want to share with you today how to create a sense of normalcy in the midst of this chaos. It might feel futile to create a schedule right now. As the great comedian Jim Gaffigan has joked: “Why won’t I make my bed? For the same reason I don’t tie my shoes after taking them off.” We understand the inclination to just weather this storm and hibernate with Netflix, but we encourage you to think big picture: finish the race you have begun. Finish well.

 

The best way to finish well is to create some routines. We’re not talking about totally scaffolding your days but implementing a few daily practices will help you find a rhythm. Routines will help you sleep better, feel better, and maybe, just maybe, find some joy in the midst of all this uncertainty. Here are Baylor UWC’s tips for creating daily practices. Don’t necessarily do all of them! Pick one or two to start with, and go from there.

  1. Wake up and go to bed at a regular time each day. This is a very simple practice and will help prevent sluggishness. Your body thrives on regularity, and regular bedtimes/wakeups help set your Circadian rhythm, which influences a lot of your body’s other systems, like metabolism, energy levels, and sleep cycles. So dust off that alarm clock!
  2. Limit screen time. We know this is a difficult one with classes all online, the constant barrage of email, and the tendency to fill time with all the social meedz. But if you can create a few technology blackouts throughout your day, this can actually help lower anxiety and improve sleep. Many people have reported chronic headaches and increased anxiety due to the rise in screen time. One of the best things to do is to have a device cut-off time. Start small: one or two nights a week try to power down your laptop and phone well before bedtime and stop checking email and social media. This lets your brain know it’s okay to turn off for a while. Consider reading before bed or listening to calming music or an audiobook instead of binge-watching Love is Blind until you fall asleep.
  3. Move your body. Right now, a lot of us have necessarily become more sedentary than usual. We’re on the couch, in our beds, or seated at desks all day long. Pry yourself off the sofa and go for a walk! Or, if you feel especially stir-crazy, go for a jog, find some yoga flow videos on YouTube, or kick it up a notch in your living room with some dance cardio or CrossFit circuits. Anything you can do to stay active during this time will clear your head, keep you healthier, improve sleep, and feel more yourself. This is a great time to head to a local park or walk around your neighborhood.
  4. Do Your Best for This Season! We know that with the pass/fail announcement, it’s tempting to just coast for the rest of the semester. We would urge you to choose the path of integrity, which will look different for each student depending on the circumstances. Do yourself and your professors a favor: honor their time and yours by working hard, resting hard, and sticking to the commitments you made before the world turned upside down. This might mean writing the most incredible prose in the time you now have, or it may mean committing to simply completing assignments if your home life is a bit hectic. Whatever “best” means for you right now, do that! You’ll thank yourself in the long run for choosing the path of integrity, rather than the path of least resistance.
  5. Schedule an appointment with the University Writing Center! We know you all still have papers to write, job applications to fill out, and personal statements to craft, so schedule an appointment with one of our tutors! The UWC has gone fully online, but we are just as eager to help you write to the best of your ability. Head on over to mywconline.com/ to set up an appointment today. We can’t wait to work with you.

Do you have ways that you’ve built some normalcy back into your life? Have you found rhythms or schedules to help you through your days? Have you picked up any fun new hobbies or skills to pass the time? If so, we’d love to hear from you! Comment below with your thoughts on the suggestions above, as well as any fun tips or tricks you’ve found to make life feel a little more familiar.