Tutoring: A vital component to success

Let’s talk tutoring.

I’ve been a tutor at the college level for three years. Full disclosure, I do not tutor for Portland State, but rather I tutored at a community college. And I’m not a graduate student, I’m a certified master tutor with the College Reading & Learning Association.

My main area of tutoring experience is writing, but I have also tutored math and some basic computer skills in the recent past. As time progressed and I got better and better at what I was doing, I learned something very important to my own success—something that is important for every college student to know: Asking for help engenders success.

Despite this seemingly obvious fact, I know a lot of people (at times, myself included) who don’t want to ask for help. I’m not really sure why, although doubtless pride and pigheadedness play a big role in that decision.

I think it is important to understand just how much of our college success depends on not only doing the work that is required of us—homework, exams and papers—but also taking the time to step out and utilize all the services that a college has to offer. Being part of student government, clubs and recreation opportunities, among other things, all lead to an increase in skills that will benefit us years down the road.

One service that is offered and can be utilized to great benefit is, of course, tutoring. Tutors are usually grad students or other qualified students who have gone through not only the classes that they will be tutoring in, but also further training to help others understand the material better.

In my own experiences as both a tutor and a tutee, approaching a knowledgeable person who is willing and eager to help can do wonders. One of my biggest goals of any tutoring session is to give my tutee the confidence they require to succeed. For example, helping someone learn how to factor or utilize proper APA citation style is good (and necessary), but that information is only minimally beneficial if that particular person lacks the confidence needed to perform well when someone is not present at their side to help walk them through the process.

So how does that help you, the student? I have written before on the importance of perseverance and the need to tough it out, stay in school and deal with whatever may come. But sometimes that attitude simply isn’t enough. As students, we run into formidable barriers to our success. Perhaps we’re bogged down with homework and writing assignments, perhaps our family needs are such that we can’t devote the time we want to our tasks. In any case, we feel that some extra instruction is needed to clarify and explain certain topics. Now make no mistake, tutors are not teachers and they certainly are not going to do a student’s work for them. However, a tutor is invaluable in getting information and ideas across that might not have been gleaned in class.

I have utilized math and computer tutors here at PSU, and they are helpful and professional. My math class in particular was difficult, and the tutors helped me to understand certain concepts that had plagued me since high school. I would hope that all students on campus would be willing to use the wonderful assistance that our tutors offer.

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, rather, it is a sign that one takes their studies seriously and is willing to do whatever it takes to succeed.