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On-campus tutoring could make the difference to your degree

Concordia’s free student service targets core courses and important skill sets
March 26, 2014
By Tom Peacock

Writing assistant Anne Rahman: “I love it when you can see that you’ve made a difference.” Writing assistant Anne Rahman: “I love it when you can see that you’ve made a difference.” | Photos by Concordia University

It’s a Thursday afternoon at the end of term, and the Writing Centre on the 6th floor of the Henry F. Hall Building (Room H-662) is a buzzing hive of activity.

For Anne Rahman, an undergraduate in computer science, it’s all about the repeat customers. “The fact that they're coming back means you're helpful in some way.”

As a writing assistant, Rahman is one of 50 tutors at Student Learning Services, part of Student Services at Concordia. Before going “pro,” she often helped her friends and family members compose letters, emails and essays.

“I love it when you can see that you’ve made a difference,” Rahman says.

At 10 a.m. from Monday through Friday, the Writing Centre offers free support to all undergrad and grad students who’ve made an appointment. There are also drop-in hours on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and students can also set up appointments with writing tutors on the Loyola Campus.

In addition to writing assistance, Student Learning Services provides tutoring for 200-level math, science, economics, geography and business courses. The idea is to give students a leg up in required core courses or prerequisite courses, which are often the biggest hurdle standing between them and successful program completion.

“We try to target the areas that are most in demand,” says Juliet Dunphy, manager of Student Learning Services. “That's why we cover many basic math and science courses — when they're taking a prerequisite course, a lot of students find they don't necessarily have the background for it.”

Tutoring may also be available at the departmental level. Where this is the case, Student Learning Services strives to complement other support students are receiving.

Off-campus tutoring services also advertise at Concordia, and Dunphy suspects that many students may not realize that learning assistance is available for free through the university.

But she also cautions that tutors aren’t there to do all the heavy lifting: “We have really high ethics in terms of our tutoring.”

Accounting majors Melissa Marginson and Gowthtiriga Nirmalathithakumar Accounting majors Melissa Marginson and Gowthtiriga Nirmalathithakumar

On the same Thursday afternoon, in a room on the 4th floor of the Hall Building (Room H-460), Melissa Marginson and Gowthtiriga Nirmalathithakumar are reviewing their notes as they wait for their next clients to arrive.

The tutors — both accounting majors — help business students who are enrolled in two core courses: COMM 215 – Business Statistics and COMM 217 – Financial Accounting. These are classes all John Molson School of Business undergrad students must take, regardless of their major.

Nirmalathithakumar’s favourite aspect of her part-time job is leading “exam cram” sessions with multiple students. “I've always wanted to teach a class, and I have that opportunity here.”

Marginson also provides assistance for another core course, COMM 305 – Managerial Accounting. She‘s found that going over the material with other students strengthens her own knowledge of it.

And there’s the added plus of meeting lots of interesting people. “They often come back after mid-terms, and they’re really happy they did well,” Marginson says. “They’re very grateful.”

See the complete list of tutoring services offered by Student Learning Services, and check out additional tutoring services available through the Dean of Students Office. Be sure to check with your department as well.


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