Student Achievment Center could save your semester

Oscar Longoria, left, tutors AbdiFatah Abdishaikh in math.

Oscar Longoria, left, tutors AbdiFatah Abdishaikh in math.

Joe Ballard, News Editor

Every semester, students deal with material they just don’t understand, no matter how much work they put in. After every exam, there are some students who give up on a class or even worse, they drop out. At all hours of the day, Madison College provides free support to students who are struggling.

Midterms are upon us and students at every campus are stressing over material that just doesn’t make sense. Maybe they are too ashamed to admit in front of everyone else in class that what was just covered doesn’t make any sense. Being chapters behind in comprehension makes some students want to throw in the towel. But help is out there.

“You get to those tough courses and you feel really lost and you don’t know what to do or you get stuck. You get to that point where you say I can’t do this! It creates these walls,” said Hannah Munk, a Peer Tutor in the Student Achievement Center (SAC).

“As tutors we really help people break down those walls and get to a point where they don’t even build them to begin with. We help them get to the point where they can go home and do this on their own. That is the biggest goal as tutors.”

Help comes in many forms in the SAC at all campuses. In the last year, the SAC provided some kind of tutoring support to over 3,000 students and over 75,000 hours of support. They expect those numbers to keep growing, especially with all of the services provided in peer tutoring, Supplemental Instruction, and its online resources.

In peer tutoring, a student can get help from another student employed by the center. The peer tutors go through comprehensive training, have received at least a B in the course, and have faculty recommendation for the position.

Munk added that just last week, there were 2 students she had tutored personally who were the only students in their class to get As on an exam.

Supplemental Instruction is a bit more instructor driven and geared for group study. A group of students from a class can form a study group and then a Supplemental Instructor works with the class professor to provide additional information and guidance in the study groups.

The SAC said that there was actually a quantifiable difference in grades for students in the same class that took advantage of SI.

The online resources of the SAC have gained national recognition. Julie Gores, Associate Dean of Libraries and Academic Support Services, went to receive an award from National College Learning Center Association for the quality of the SAC website, this October.

The site won third place in the country, and has a lot to offer students. It contains tutor schedules at every campus, library information, and many free online resources like Khan Academy or HippoCampus. Gores said that the SAC is working to improve on the website.

“We simply don’t have enough resources and manpower to staff tutoring 24/7. So what we have done over the past 6 months or so is to pick out a vendor who’s going to provide online tutoring,” Gores said. “(The vendor will have) whiteboard capabilities and audio capabilities, so it’s really like being here working on a whiteboard with a tutor. That’s really going to expand services across the district. And provide an even wider range of subjects. It’s intended to supplement what we have and not replace what we have.”

Gores pointed out that counselors are also available for anyone who is really struggling with school or other personal issues. The counselors are able to identify large scope issues that the students may be dealing with.

Gores also points to the Madison College Library as a resource that will work in conjunction with the SAC. The library doesn’t offer tutoring but provides other resources, like help finding research material for papers. Whether in the library or the SAC, asking questions is the best way to find out what you don’t know.

“Just ask. Not just for academic support but for anything. If there’s any concern or any question. If you don’t understand what your course syllabus is asking of you. Just ask,” said James Rockman, the Educational Program Provider for the SAC.

“There are so many resources here and it can be hard to navigate because you don’t even know that some of them exist. Stop in at our front desk, stop in to the welcome center, and stop in to an advisor. There’s usually something we can do.”

“There are students all across this college that are helping each other out. Which I think is one of the strengths of this school,” Rockman said. “There is tutoring happening all over the place. We focus it here in the Achievement Center.”