Becoming a Writing and Speaking Assistant

Selection and Training of Writing and Speaking Assistants

PWSAs combine demonstrated writing ability and strong interpersonal and oral communication skills with intellectual curiosity and a genuine desire to mentor and learn from others. They are selected once a year through a competitive process that begins early in winter semester.

Students are initially identified by faculty or peer nomination or by self-nomination and then invited to apply. The process includes an application letter, samples of analytical academic writing, and an interview.

The commitment to being a Writing and Speaking Assistant is significant: PWSAs must be able to devote up to sixty hours per semester, or roughly five hours each week, to the program. Once hired, PWSAs are trained in theories of writing and oral communication and in tutoring methods in order to work effectively with student writers and speakers on projects in any subject and at all levels. They also attend weekly staff development meetings throughout the semester and are closely mentored by the Director of Writing and Writing Specialists. Writing and Speaking Assistants are paid on an hourly basis at the top student rate.


What Do Writing and Speaking Assistants Say About Their Work?

– “Peer writing was a great asset to me at Bates both academically and personally. Through this job I became a better writer and speaker, became more sensitive to the differences in the way that people think and communicate, and made many more friends.”

– “Not only did I enjoy my time working with Peer Writing, but I learned a great deal about myself, my writing, my teaching, my strengths, and my weaknesses. It is a program that promotes student-to-student mentorship and development, and in an institution largely defined by student-to-professor relationships, I think as many students as we can get to teach other students, the better. Everybody learns, everybody develops. It’s a win-win.”

– “Being a Peer Writer really helped me as a writer. Learning to think explicitly about writing is really important to my writing process now. Peer Writing is also the place at Bates where I learned most about teamwork and leadership.”