One of the best things you can do during your college experience is to understand how to find and utilize help. It’s a great skill to learn for your future career. Getting help, including advice, guidance, and a perspective, isn’t cheating. Cheating is cheating: please don’t do that. Instead go with the perfectly legal help available to you.
With no available exceptions, college and university tutoring and support services are available to all at no charge. While various campus groups such as varsity athletes have access to tutoring, that doesn’t take away from your access. You don’t have to do anything to receive this tutoring. You don’t have to have low grades or any other circumstance.
Just show up. Now, you may need an appointment—according to the policies of the office offering a particular resource. But unless a resource has a statement to the contrary, they are available to all on a first-come/first-served basis (or by appointment).
Many universities and colleges have large tutoring centers. These may group all tutoring together or may have various divisions for various subjects.
Naturally, there is variation from institution to institution, but many tutoring centers are staffed by undergraduates, graduate students, and their professional support staff. Of course, whatever level the person is on, he or she tutors only in an area in which he or she has demonstrated expertise.
At most institutions, undergraduate students must have very high grade point averages and demonstrated skill in a particular area to qualify as tutors.
Sometimes tutoring specific to one particular area is housed apart from the general tutoring center. In some cases it is sponsored by individual departments and housed in them. One might begin by looking at the department’s web site or by contacting the department secretary/administrative assistant to find out if the department has tutoring. If not, go to the university or college’s web site and either perform a search in the available search box or go to a tab such as “resources,” “students” “academics,” etc.
Almost all universities and colleges now have writing centers. Most of these are very easy to find on the web, with their own web pages. Writing centers are tutoring centers expressly for your writing projects. You can utilize the tutoring assistance from these centers for papers (and even presentations, since these include language) in any class, not just English.
Here are some of the functions of the writing center:
- Helping students brainstorm and develop topics. Students should bring the assignment with them.
- Helping students analyze texts for papers that analyze these texts. Not all writing centers will do this, since some may feel such a service runs too much a risk of doing too much of a student’s work. However, many writing centers have staff members who will dialogue with students, helping them to develop their ideas while not spoon-feeding them or generating ideas for them.
- Giving students assistance with grammar and syntax. A staple of writing centers is working with students at various levels who have problems with basic grammar.
- Proofreading and editing. Writing center staff usually devotes a percentage of its energies and time to helping with the meticulous task of proofreading a paper and trying to rid it of small mistakes.
The Writing Center, as a focused, specialized part of the university, has the ability to give highly-focused help that is effective. They are sometimes staffed by fulltime instructors, and sometimes some combination of: instructors, graduate student instructors, support staff with a Master’s in English or a similar credential. They are usually quite familiar with the curricula of most instructors at the institution.
The writing center staff at almost all institutions hastens to emphasize that its role is never to do the student’s work for him or her, but to act as a tutor, helping to instruct the student. Sometimes they emphasize that the student should consult with the instructor first and foremost. The writing center then can be just an extra set of eyes, and can also be a place for the student to turn between the last available meeting with the instructor and the paper’s due date.
The library or media center, etc. is also an arm of academic help for students, even if it’s not labeled a tutoring center. The library is staffed by people who are there to help. While you may first notice the people who work at the circulation desk, behind the scenes are reference librarians, who hold a Master’s in Library and Information Science. The role of the reference librarian is to help students with research. A lot of this involves helping students navigate the subscription databases that index the sorts of articles you’ll be using in your research.
Starting several years ago, librarians became more and more involved with trying to help students with their research. They have adapted to the digital world and try to deliver information to students on the go. If you go to the web site of the library at your learning institution, you will find various research guides. This are bundles of information organized by academic disciplines or by subject matter. This is a great way to get help from the library. Further, the librarians regularly produce short videos showing how to use various research tools affiliated with the library.
One of the long-standing institutions of support services for students is academic advising. This service is also available to all students. Academic advising can allow you to select your course load for a semester and to be sure to be on track for graduation. The advisors can discuss some of your choices of classes with knowledge he or she has about them.
In many cases, the department in which you major will assign you an advisor, usually one of the professors. Some students obtain general counseling for the first year or two of their academic lives, and then, after declaring a major, do counseling within the department.
Some people may not think of computing help as being academic. But you’re using computers for academic work, right? So there you go! Computing help can come from attendants/consultants at computing labs. It can also occur via chat or e-mail with people who work at the school’s IT department.
Some universities employee educational technology experts or other consultants who will help you with the operation of PowerPoint or various other pieces of software. As with any of the other types of help discussed, you must just visit the web page of the entity in question and find out how to get help.
Now more than ever, colleges and universities are offering a wide range of help for students. It is easier than ever to learn about them. In many cases, these various support services go into classes to make presentations. But even when they don’t, finding them on your university’s web site is quick and easy.
Using the help available to you is an excellent idea. Not only might it help your success in classes and on particular assignments, but it can also give you a fresh perspective on the subject. It can also get you into a good habit of understanding the resources available to you.