Tutors help student athletes thrive in class

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The Student Athlete Building (SAB) is where many athletes eat, study and meet with academic tutors. (Edison Thalman)

BYU student Ben Chapdelaine sits in the Student Athlete Building as he reviews some economics homework and goes over his notes from the day. He’s watching soccer highlights when his phone buzzes to alert him, “Meeting today on Chapter 4.”

He silences the reminder and puts his phone in his bag. He rummages in his bag for a whiteboard marker as the door on the far side of the room opens. A tall, muscular student walks in and greets Chapdelaine with a smile and a fist bump. “Let’s get into some economics,” he says.

Chapdelaine is not a student athlete, but he spends 10–15 hours a week in the Student Athlete Building. Chapdelaine tutors athletes in economics and business school prerequisite classes.

During a season, athletes can be expected to be on the road as many as three times a week, and they are dedicating long hours on the field or court when they are in Provo. Student tutors help the athletes keep up in class and succeed off the field. Athletes are not required to meet with a tutor, but they can always request one.

Chapdelaine is studying economics and business. He said he loves strategy games, is a big fan of BYU Athletics and aspires to be a teacher or manager someday.

Chapdelaine got involved in student athletic tutoring after hearing about the job opportunity from a friend. He said tutoring athletes is similar to tutoring anyone else.

Photo credit: Ben Chapdelaine
Student athlete tutor Ben Chapdelaine. (Ben Chapdelaine)

“The first time we meet, I try to understand what their learning style is, understand how they feel they are doing in the classes and what they want to improve on the most. After that, we do a lot of exam prep and work on topics that they missed if they weren’t in class due to tournaments or games,” Chapdelaine said.

Chapdelaine keeps in touch with the athletes he tutors through text or e-mail and meets with them on a weekly basis.

“The student is responsible for any communication with TAs or professors. What I typically do involves teaching topics, helping with homework and doing exam preparation,” Chapdelaine said. “We don’t ever give answers to homework questions or write papers for them. It would defeat the purpose of helping the athlete by just giving them answers.” 

Chapdelaine tutors many students in ECON 110, which has a reputation for being one of the most difficult and most failed courses at BYU. He said he enjoys seeing those he works with learn and grow.

“It is always rewarding to watch athletes work hard through that class, despite having to miss lectures for tournaments or games and working around several hours of practice a week,” Chapdelaine said.

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