Tutors help students through difficulties


    By Alice-Anne Lewis

    The final is over, the book is sold back, and the class becomes yet another tag on the transcript.

    But for students who become tutors, the class is never officially over.

    BYU”s tutoring services has 400 to 500 volunteer tutors who dedicate about an hour a week helping students in a specific course, said Sarah Westerberg, tutoring services coordinator.

    The tutoring service tries to bring together a student who feels comfortable with a certain course with a student who wants to feel more confident with the same course.

    Then, the two work jointly to meet on a weekly, one-on-one basis.

    Students can apply in the Jacobsen Center to either be a tutor in a certain subject or to be tutored.

    Tutors are required to take the course they teach and receive a B+ or better, Westerberg said.

    A desire to tutor, along with feeling comfortable about the course is key to helping students, she said.

    Last fall, Jamie Ahlstrom, 20, a junior from Tooele, Tooele Co., majoring in elementary education decided to use her knowledge of Math 112 to serve others as a tutor.

    “I had a little time on my hands, and I thought, ”what should I be doing better with my time,”” Ahlstrom said.

    Since then, Ahlstrom has volunteered every semester to tutor a student in Math 112.

    “It”s nice to give help to others instead of just being concerned with myself,” she said.

    Although tutoring is not a paid position, this does not deter Ahlstrom.

    “I”d feel bad getting paid,” she said. “I”m not qualified to teach, and I haven”t been trained.”

    Throughout the semester, tutoring services puts on several 30-minute workshops, a student development class, and a weekend retreat to train tutors.

    This weekend a retreat is being held at Spring Haven Lodge located in a canyon east of Springville.

    Melissa Struve, a tutoring coordinator, said tutors will be trained this weekend on how to communicate with those they tutor, how to teach effective study skills and how to improve their tutoring sessions.

    National certification through the College Reading and Learning Association is also part of the training.

    This certification looks impressive on a resume and gives a tutor an edge if they want to do tutoring off campus, Westerberg said.

    But the real benefit seems to come to those who are being tutored.

    “If you look around campus there are all sorts of support systems,” Westerberg said. “To have this opportunity for one-on-one assistance is really unique.”

    For some students, seeking out a tutor is inconvenient and unnecessary.

    “TAs are sufficient,” said Sahil Harlalka, 19, a sophomore from India, majoring in computer science.

    Even though Michael Wade, 18, a freshman from Highland, Utah County, who has not yet declared a major would seek out a tutor if he was failing a class, he would avoid going to see a tutor if he could help it.

    “It”s like in high school … if you go to a tutor, you”re stupid,” Miller said. “People think you need special help.”

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