Academic assistance hits new low

(Elijah Vary | The Oswegonian)
(Elijah Vary | The Oswegonian)

Declining student availability at the Office of Learning Services (OLS) has led to multiple tutees per session.

According to the Director of OLS, Catherine Santos, 92 tutors were hired last year. This fall the staff dropped to 67.

“We have lost tutors,” Santos said. “In trying to meet our demand we have asked tutors to meet with two people whenever possible.”

During OLS training week in August, tutors were notified they could accept up to four students for an hour walk-in or scheduled appointment. Tutortrac, an online management system, has adjusted to this policy and now accepts more tutees.

“We are trying to maintain our services given the number of people who use our services.” Santos said. “If a person tells us it is not an optimal arrangement for them, we will give them one on one tutoring.

“I have talked to individual tutors who have come to express their concerns,” Santos said. “We have been able to work that out.”

Each year, the National Science Foundation supplies OLS a grant between $8,000 to $10,000, based on the organization’s need. These funds, along with a steady $50,000 from the Governor’s Office, attribute to the adequate wages and services provided by the facility.

“The issue is not the money, it’s the number of students we have,” Santos said. “Our numbers are down because we didn’t have as many people applying for positions this year.”

A mix of low applications, rising student academic activities and graduation has upped the need for tutors at the center. Santos urges students to apply for the program.

“We need more students who are willing to become tutors,” Santos said. “We do quite a bit of outreach, including outreach to students who are getting tutored. Tutors and students have more obligations which means their time is limited to provide hours for tutoring.”

The tutors at OLS offer hundreds of students instructional support in humanities, math, modern languages, science, accounting and business.

Scheduled tutors are available in room 173 in the Marano Campus Center. Appointments are held Monday through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sessions conclude at 4 p.m. on Fridays and at 4:30 p.m. on Sundays.

While returning tutors face group sessions, newer employees are exempt from this option.

“We didn’t give this responsibility to the new tutors because they just started,” Santos said. “We want students to learn the system, to learn what we’re doing.”

According to Santos, not all subjects acquire multiple tutors per session. Due to the common syllabus in the department of modern language, these tutors receive additional students during an appointment.

As a Spanish tutor for two years, Larissa Menezes explained she felt “stressed” when working with multiple tutees.

“It’s very hard and not as efficient as last semester,” Menezes said. “One student has a very different way of learning from another one, I feel like I have to divide myself.”

Menezes has encountered several students who are being taught different material.

“When it’s two students or three they have different professors and that’s [a] different syllabus.” Menezes said. “I know some professors start with a different chapter.”

During individual sessions, Menezes explained students become engaged in learning the subject.

“Students feel more open when it’s one [on] one, so they’re not afraid to ask questions,” Menezes said. “When they are in a group, the students are quiet because they don’t have that relationship built [with strangers] like they do with me.”

Last year, sophomore Chelsea Rodriguez booked frequent appointments to the tutoring center. Now, Rodriguez has lost adequate time with her tutor.

“I used to go there every day and have one-on-one’s with my tutor,” Rodriguez said. “It gave me more time to ask questions. In my last experience, she [the tutor] had to spend five minutes with me and go back and forth.”

This month, as midterm season approaches, Menezes will again be forced to split her time between students.

“I feel like students walk out of here not fully understanding,” Menezes said. “I feel like I can’t do my best performance.”

According to Santos, next semester additional staff will be hired for the OLS tutoring center.