FAQ for Students

The Basics: Where, When, How

  • The Hume Center is located on the Stanford Quad, in Building 250.
  • We are open six days a week; hours vary.
  • Our peer writing tutors also work on a drop-in basis at locations across campus.  See the complete schedule here.
  • You can make an appointment or, if you want to see a writing tutor, drop in at the Hume Center lounge or in satellite locations across campus.  If no appointments are available, you can stop by the Hume Center to find out if there have been cancellations or no-shows. 

Who can use the Hume Center?  And for what?

All students with an active Stanford ID can come to the Hume Center for writing and speaking tutoring.

Faculty also use the Hume Center for speaking consultations and writing retreats. And staff, community members, and families of current Stanford students are welcome throughout the year to special events that celebrate writing and speaking.

Do I need to have a full draft of my paper or presentation?

You can bring in writing or speaking at any stage of the process. Some students come with just a prompt when they aren’t sure how to get started, some to turn a set of notes into an outline or script, still others to fine tune a near-final draft or presentation. 

Do you have tutors that specialize in my major? My paper/presentation is pretty complicated and technical. 

You can work with a tutor on writing or speaking in any discipline and any genre. 

Do you only work with students on their course assignments? 

Stanford wants to support your development as a writer and speaker, not just as an academic writer and speaker. To this end, we work with students on projects they’re undertaking for and outside of class. We see, of course, many students working on research papers and multimedia presentations, but we also work with students on cover letters, applications, and interview prep.

Why should I use Hume Center tutoring?

You should use the Hume Center because you want feedback on a work in progress in a welcoming and supportive environment. In a meeting with a tutor you test your ideas, gain insight into your composition processes, hone your skills, and ideally develop confidence as a writer and speaker. You should use the Hume Center because you want to learn how to talk through your writing and speaking choices more expertly and because you expect to maintain ownership of your ideas and language. All Stanford students stand to benefit from getting feedback on their work.

You shouldn’t use the Hume Center because you hope the tutor will do the work for you.  That would violate the Stanford Honor Code.  And you shouldn’t use the Hume Center merely because you want a better grade, although that is a potential outcome of your visit. Rather, use the Hume Center because as a developing writer and speaker, readers and listeners are exactly what you need to help you know what you need to do next.

What should I bring to my session? How should I prepare for my session? 

Writing tutors can work with print or digital versions of works in progress. Speaking tutors will need access to your slides if you are making a multimedia presentation. Please also bring any materials that you might need to consult during the session, for example, the assignment prompt or the key sources you might be using.

For more about the technology available in the oral communication tutoring rooms, please scroll down to the bottom of this page.

What kind of help will I receive?

Our tutors will discuss your writing and speaking goals with you. Depending on what you hope to work on during the session, they will share strategies for meeting the expectations of your audience as well as for approaching your topic, organizing your argument, developing your style, and clarifying your sentences.  

I just need help proofreading my paper. Will Hume tutors do that? 

If you are interested in proofreading, our tutors will help you become a better proofreader of your own work. In other words, the tutor won’t just do the proofreading for you, you will have a conversation about proofreading. This can happen in a number of ways.  For example, you may read your writing out loud to “hear” your errors, or as you and the tutor are looking at your paper together, the tutor may point to a word or punctuation mark that is inhibiting your meaning that you can then together resolve. You will leave with insight into patterns of error that may be occurring in your writing as well as ways to address them.

If you need an editor, a list of professional editors is available.  Email humecenter@stanford.edu to request the list.

Can I send in my paper ahead of time?

No.  Our pedagogy is highly collaborative, which means that you will need to tell the tutor a little bit about your work before they start reading.  This also means you and the tutor will read your work together -- sometimes silently and at others, one of you may read out loud, depending on your preference.

What if I just have a quick question about my writing or speaking? 

If you have a writing question, feel free to see one of our drop-in tutors.  They are available almost every hour we’re open for operation.  If you have a speaking question, you can make an appointment and use as much of it as is necessary to answer your question.  You may find that a “quick question” becomes an interesting conversation about your project and performance!

I think I’m going to need more than one visit. What are the policies for multiple visits? 

You are permitted to make a one-hour (writing) or one-and-a-half-hour (speaking) appointment per week with the same tutor for up to a month. Before making these appointments at the front desk, please discuss your writing and speaking goals with the tutor and mutually agree on the number of recurring appointments needed to meet them.  A full explanation of the recurring appointment procedure can be found here.

How much does it cost to use the Hume Center?

Nothing. The Hume Center’s services are free to registered Stanford students.

Will my professor know that I’ve come to the Hume Center?

Only if you choose to tell them.