Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Four Word Misuses That Are Ruining Your Essays

Whether it’s due to an impending deadline or a simple misunderstanding, students, and writers at large, are guilty of misusing words in their papers. Revealing that you don’t understand a word can significantly cut down on your reliability and credibility. While we can’t cover every word you’ll ever write, here are the Writing Center’s five most commonly misused words that you won’t have to worry about anymore.

Distinguishing between these two words has been a plague to students since their first five-paragraph essay. This mistake can result from a simple misspelling or a misunderstanding. Here’s a simple breakdown of the difference between affect and effect.
Affect: This is a verb and represents an action.
Correct Use: Earthquake victims are affected by the lack of aid.
Effect: This is a noun and represent the result of an action .
Correct Use: The effect of the hurricane was mass destruction.

There is very little difference between these two words. They are basically synonyms except for the difference in where the feeling originates.
Perturb: An internal disquiet that comes from within a person (i.e. the person’s own thoughts and perceptions) without any external cause.
Correct Use: Jenni was pondering the idea of cold-blooded murder which perturbed her.
Disturb: An internal disquiet inside a person that is a reaction to an external source.
Correct Use: Jenni watched a horror movie last night and she was deeply disturbed.


This word relationship is exactly like that of perturbed and disturbed. The difference is in the origin.
Provocative: This is something that creates a physical, external reaction (facial expression, speech, or action).
Correct Use: The provocative theatre performance caused many in the audience to cry and applaud.
Evocative: This is something that causes emotions or images within a person.
Correct Use: The evocative writing in Grapes of Wrath illustrates the lost hope of the American dream.

Amount/ Number

This distinction is also very slim and, in all honesty, is probably an error that is not taken too seriously. However, you can use this trick if you don’t want to take the chance.
Amount: This word is used for quantities that are measured as a whole, as one group.
Correct Use: The amount of plagiary in Elliot’s paper was inexcusable.
Note: Elliot committed multiple acts of plagiarism. However, all those acts are grouped together in one large act of plagiary in this paper.
Number:  This word is used for items that can be counted individually even though they are in a group.
Correct Use: The number of people in the elevator increased during the lunch hour.
Note: Each person in the elevator is representative an individual. These people are not being morphed into one huge person in the elevator, therefore, they retain their individuality with the use of the word “number,” which implies that you can count the individual bodies.

-Talea Hughes

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

RU Writing Center Special Edition: MYTH-BUSTERS, Part 1

Welcome to the (first!) Myth-Busters edition of the RUWriting Blog where we will take on common ideas and misconceptions about the Writing Center and either CONFIRM  or BUST them!

Our first myth:
“The writing center is only for students who don’t know how to write. If I’m a good writer, I won’t get anything out of a session”
Finding: BUSTED
Explanation: The writing center is for everyone! The staff here works hard to cater to the needs of each specific student, so whether you feel like you can’t string a sentence together or like prose falls from your pen with the ease of a dolphin swimming, we can help you to become the best writer you can be. Whatever stage you are in (brainstorming, outline, first or final draft) we do our best to help you work towards consistency and a high level of quality in your writing. We can help with any concern you may have from outlines to quote sandwiches (It’s tastier than you think!) Coming in to the writing Center doesn’t mean you do not know how to write. Coming here means you are striving to be a better writer.

Myth #2:
“Using the writing center is cheating, because the tutors will write the paper for you.”
Finding: BUSTED
Explanation: The tutors here will not write the paper for you. (Sorry to those of you who just got really excited). We are trained to help you find your voice in your writing. While teachers may scribble over your paper in red ink, we do our best to focus on larger issues we believe will help the student in the long run. We prefer to sit and talk to you about your writing, the topic of your assignment and about the ideas you are trying to articulate in your paper. You’ll probably hear the phrase, “WRITE THAT DOWN!” more than one time in a session, and that is because we want you to compose clearly in YOUR OWN VOICE, not ours. We find that letting students take ownership of their writing, even as simple as writing down corrections or additions, allows them a better understanding for future pieces than merely “correcting” a paper for them. All of the writing is yours, we just try to bring it out of you.

Myth #3:
“We cannot guarantee you an A on your paper”
Explanation: We never guarantee a grade for a paper we have worked on, because, quite honestly, that’s not our goal. We want to help you become the writer YOU want to be. Your goal may be to become an “A” writer or it may just be to understand how to write an outline. Regardless, these things take time, and a lot of it depends on the student. As we stated before, we cater our sessions to the writer and try to focus on what we see as a few overarching topics we can work on for that piece. If the student continues to come in, for that piece or another, we can continue to refine the work as the student progresses. Writing, like most things, is a skill that relies on progress. If you want to put the work in, most likely, you will reach your goal, and we will very happily help you each step of the way.

-Hillary E.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


Welcome new students of Roosevelt University and welcome back to those
returning! It is a new school year full of challenges and promise. I hope
that all of you have enjoyed your summers and are invigorated to start
afresh this semester.  I know I am, and I thought I’d share a bit of my
story here.
I am a native Chicagoan, but have spent the last eight years studying,
working and performing in New York. To say that I planned for my life to
lead me back here would be a lie, but sometimes…most of the time…plans
don’t always work out the way we envisioned them. I went to New York
excited to leave my suburban past behind to take on the Big Apple with all
my heart, and I fully expected my career to take off so I could spend the
rest of my life happily flitting about Manhattan getting paid to do what I
So, yeah…that didn’t happen. And now that I look back on it, I wonder how I
even expected that it would. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of that did happen,
and those years were some the most transformative of my life so far. But,
as is often the case, I came to find one day that I had led myself to a
dead end. I was singing well, but not where I wanted to. I was performing,
but not getting paid, and while the people I knew were lovely, they did not
have the connections I needed to get me a step further than I had already
gotten. Oh, and I was working over 40 hours a week, singing in the
evenings, and I was living way beyond my means. Something needed to change.
And I chose to initiate that change.
Chicago was a place to rebuild-- my childhood home, my native city, with my
family and friends to support me while I regrouped. (Not to mention that
it is much cheaper than NYC!) So here I am, 
adjusting from being a 9-to-5 employee and an aspiring opera singer to
being a student again. It is not easy—there have
been many tears, and many times when I just wish I was back living on my
own and working, but I know that to attain my dream, to live the life I
want to live, I need to be here.
Roosevelt has opened its arms to me and has certainly made the transition
easier. The people and the general vibe of the place is warm and friendly.
I couldn’t have asked for a more inviting school to come into, and it is my
hope that you feel the same.
I know each of you has his/her own story. We have all come here for different
reasons and are at different points in our academic careers and our life
at large, but we are all part of the Roosevelt community.
In that spirit, I want to invite every single student, faculty member, or
alum who reads this to the Writing Center. I’ve only been here a few
days, but this is a micro-community within Roosevelt that embodies the
warmth and kindness of the school around us. We are here to help
you—whether you need help refining your thesis, getting your ideas onto
paper, or coming up with ideas, period. WE ARE HERE. This is a place for
anyone who needs ANY sort of help on their writing. It is not a place to
be judged,  but a place of collaboration so that you can articulate your ideas
to the best of your ability. I stress that whatever you are writing,
academic or not, is fine to bring in. We all are adjusting, moving though,
or soldiering on through this portion of our lives. Why not use the
resources available to you to make your journey a little easier? So, stop
by sometime, and we can help you make this time at Roosevelt as fulfilling
as possible!

All the best,
Hillary E