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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I use the online ShepOWL writing tutoring service?

Our online tutoring service is integrated with Sakai. Students must sign up for the ShepOWL course (online tutoring) in order to be able to submit essays onto ShepOWL. Please refer to THIS handout for instructions on how to sign up and submit an essay. If you have any questions, please call 304-876-5221 or email Yildiz Nuredinoski at

How long will a writing tutor spend on my paper?

A qualified, professional student writing tutor will spend up to an hour reviewing your paper and offering her comments and suggestions.  If you voice concerns about certain aspects of your writing, she will begin there.  Otherwise, she will begin with global concerns—those things that will have the largest impact on your essay’s grade.  These include things like a valid thesis statement, critical thinking, adequate support for the essay’s thesis, organization, absence of major sentence errors, and the like.  From there, and as time allows, the tutor’s focus will gradually narrow to those things that will have a lesser and lesser impact on your essay’s grade, although still important.  These are things like sentence variety, word choice, college level vocabulary, spelling, etc.

What qualifications do writing tutors have?

To be a writing tutor, one must complete a three-credit, full-semester course called English 377 Peer Tutoring and Composition Theory which is usually  offered every fall semester.  Eligible candidates must complete this course with an A or a B, must have a minimum 3.0 GPA in their subject area, and a 3.0 GPA overall.  Additionally, they must secure a letter of recommendation from a member of the English faculty and complete an interview with the Writing Specialist.  In addition to the hours of training they complete during their Peer Tutoring class, they also receive continued training at tutor meetings as well as writing tutor meetings throughout their employment.

Why can’t the tutor just edit my paper for me?

It is very important to understand that we are not an editing service. We will not make corrections for you.  Our goal is to make you a better writer.  To do that, we will ask questions about your writing.  We will make suggestions about a sentence.  We will challenge you to see new relationships between thoughts or paragraphs.  Through these questions, suggestions, and challenges, and lots of other similar queries, we will help you to see new ways to think about your paper—and how to improve it!

How much does this service cost?

Tutoring through the Academic Support Center is a very valuable service—both the online tutoring and face-to-face tutoring. As a Shepherd student, this service is provided to you at no cost.

What if I do not have all of the information I am being asked for?

While the information we ask you to include with your essay is important and useful, we can still help you if you do not have everything.  Please include as much information as you have.

Why does it take so long to get my paper back?

We have a very small staff of writing tutors, and scheduling is tight.  We recommend that you send your essay as soon as possible.  We try to maintain a 48-hour turnaround, but it cannot be guaranteed. However, we guarantee that you will get your essay back within 72 hours.

What if I don’t know how to use Sakai to use online tutoring?

You can refer to THIS handout on how to add the Sakai page ShepOWL to your Projects and then refer to the instructions on the homepage on how to attach your essay.