Student Success Center finds sometimes it takes a first year to do the job

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Amelia Poplawski looks through notes to answer a question during a tutoring session in the Tutoring Center Hall.

Taryn Talacka, Reporter

First years are serving as tutors at the Student Success Center because officials say they are sometimes most qualified.

Kaleigh Killian, a first year secondary education English major, tutored calculus because the tutoring center was in need of help. She originally took the course with Professor Jerry Bradford and did well but tutored students who had Calculus with Professor Patrick Touhey.

Killian found her situation odd because she was taking calculus in the fall semester with Bradford while she was tutoring students in her own class.

“It was a little weird last semester because I was tutoring calculus while I was taking calculus, which is usually not allowed to happen,” said Killian. “They made exceptions for a couple of freshmen because they were so low on tutors.”

Freshmen students who have never tutored before often tutor core classes, according to Bruce Riley, Tutorial Coordinator and Learning Specialist. They are usually the last resort for the tutoring center. Riley will try to find a freshman as an alternative if he is unable to find an upperclassman tutor for a course that has a new instructor or is brand new.

“Right out of the gate, we can’t use freshmen because they don’t have any classes that they’ve taken and they don’t have a GPA established,” said Riley. “However, after the first semester, we can start to use freshmen students to tutor, but even then, it’s typically the core classes.”

Riley said the Student Success Center has more upperclassmen tutors than freshmen, but the number of freshmen tutors is “noteworthy.” The university welcomed the largest freshman class this past year, and Riley felt that number could have been a contributing factor.

“There’s been an awful lot of new faculty members coming in this year and last year,” said Riley. “I think with those two things combined, that definitely plays into it.”

Many freshman tutors assist students with courses that are offered for the first time. Riley gets in contact with professors to see who would be best for the job and then contacts students who were recommended to tutor for those courses. The students must then participate in a faculty visitation during which they meet with faculty members and discuss the material they should cover in a tutoring session. Riley said the situation has happened before.

Riley checks to see if a student is eligible to be a tutor if he or she is recommended for tutoring by professors. Riley said all tutors must have a GPA of a 3.0 or better.

“I don’t think it’s something I try to avoid,” said Riley. “If a student’s proficient in the material, and they’re able to tutor another student, I don’t think that would be a deterrent for me from scheduling a session like that.”

Killian said her tutoring experience has been enjoyable and she has learned a lot.

“I’ve learned that everyone here is really accepting because in high school, it’s taboo if you have a tutor,” she said. “You’re thought to not be as much as everyone else, but here, it really doesn’t matter.”

Riley said that he is satisfied with the work of all of the tutors in the center, no matter if they are freshmen or upperclassmen. Many tutors have been working to get the College Reading and Language Association certification.

“In order to achieve that, peer tutors have to have a certain number of training hours that they’ve received and a certain number of tutoring hours that they’ve logged into the Student Success Center,” said Riley. “As they’re meeting that criteria, they’re becoming certified through CRLA, and this year, we’ve had quite a good number of peer tutors become certified.”

Tutors who have received the certification usually stay on the job. Riley said he expects many of the freshman tutors to return next year.

“We do have pretty good retention with our tutors,” said Riley. “I have not seen a situation where I have a large number of students who tutored one year drop off and just not tutor the next year.”

Killian is one of the freshmen tutors who will be returning to the tutoring center. She was supposed to be a fine arts tutor before she was asked to tutor calculus, but the first opportunity fell through. Tutoring allows her to work on her teaching skills.

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