Academic Resource Center: Kristin Cobos

Please tell us about yourself: My name is Kristin Cobos. I am the Writing and Online Writing Center Coordinator at Webster. My background is in Teaching English as a Second Language, and my specialization is in Caribbean Languages and Literature.  I was a teacher for 12 years, and most of that time was spent in the University of Puerto Rico. During this period, I also worked professionally as a musician. I first moved into Academic Resources in 2014 as an English and Spanish tutor.  In 2015, I started working at Webster as an ESL Specialist in the Writing Center. This past October, I began my current position as Coordinator of the Writing and Online Writing Center.

What do you do in your free time: In my free time I enjoy audio production and 3d art and animation.

How do you help Webster University Online students? We have a wonderful Online Writing Center with three professional Writing Coaches. Students can submit their papers and make specific requests about what they want the Coaches to review. Our web page describes in detail how you can submit your paper for review. You can also stop by our Facebook pageI can also be reached at 314-246-8685 to help anyone having difficulties.

You answer many questions from students, what are some of our students’ frequently asked questions?

Our online student population asks a variety of questions with regard to their writing. The two most popular questions are:

How do I improve my writing?

My advice would be to start as early as possible and be sure to use the Online Writing Center to help with your drafts. Each person has their own unique style of writing, and people tend to repeat the same types of errors over and over. For example, some people might use informal language; others might write really long sentences. If you become aware of what errors you personally tend to make, you can look out for those specific patterns in the proofreading and editing stage of the writing process.

Can I get help with citations?

With regard to citations, the skill you need to develop is paying attention to detail and learning to use trustworthy, up-to-date resources such as OWL Purdue. You must know what type of source you are using— is it a scholarly journal? Is it a reliable source?  You must also be able to scan the citation guide with a detailed eye. In the examples provided by the guide, look at what is capitalized and what is not. Look for commas, semicolons, italicized items, spaces etc.

In the same light, make sure your content is thoroughly addressed before you worry about APA or MLA format. Sometimes I see people so worried about citations, when they should be more concerned with the content of their paper. Be sure you are adequately paraphrasing the material you read. That is one area you must put your attention to!

What part of your job is the most satisfying? I really enjoy the process of trying to work with people to find solutions. I also like finding out what makes someone unique. Getting to know the students, whether here in St. Louis or in our campuses nationwide, makes my work very enjoyable!

Do you have any advice for students? The best advice I have for students is: just get started on your work— take that first step! I see so many students under pressure. Many suffer from high levels of anxiety when they have to write a paper. One way to combat this anxiety is to start as soon as possible on your assignment. Don’t worry about having a perfect paper on the first draft, and never underestimate the power of a good outline. When you are beginning, remember you are not alone in this process. Use all the tools at your disposal— the Online Writing Center, the library, your peers, professors. Learning how to use the tools and resources you have available and using them often will benefit you for the rest of your life!

What’s your favorite part of being a Gorlok? I graduated from Leiden in 1997 and I am thrilled to be on Webster’s staff here at the St. Louis campus. I have made lifelong friends at Webster, and quite a few of us have returned to work here. My favorite aspect of Webster is the diversity of the student population. There are students and staff members from every corner of the world. It is wonderful to be a part of a community that values diversity and international exchange.