One of the biggest problems I have faced during my semester of being a Writing Fellow has been getting students to schedule appointments. I work with a Basic Writing class, so the majority of the students I work with are freshmen. I believe not being in college for a long while has something to do with the students’ lack of scheduling. Because they are new to the school, freshmen often don’t understand how valuable the skills learned in our sessions can be. I didn’t understand how important the peer review process was was until I took an advanced level course on Literary Criticism and Analysis. It was also in this advanced level course that I had my first experience with a Writing Fellow. I was also reluctant at first. My schedule hardly had any openings as it was; I was also required to meet with someone for additional help. However, when I actually sat down with her, I gained a great sense of confidence. I might not have done well on some of my papers, but at least I knew someone saw that I understood the material. I feel that a couple of students that see me understand how our meetings are beneficial, but for those who don’t, I am concerned. They are required after all to see me at least three times during the semester. It’s imperative to their grade, yet they do not schedule.
The director of the Writing Fellows program provided a solution to my problem. We sat down and spoke about what was going on. He showed me a strategy to sending out emails that would express how important it was to have each individual come in for an appointment. It was simple. The subject line of the email contained the last name of the student. In this way, it was expressed that the student was on my agenda. My director described it as a way to get the attention of the student. Then I typed a message giving the details of the next assignment and a reminder of how to schedule an appointment, copied the message, and pasted it on to each student’s email. It made a huge difference. The next day, I had three students sign up. This was an incredible improvement from the many weeks I had looking at a blank schedule. Maybe this is the solution.