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Help Along the Way

By Valeria Flores
Student Success Center at EMCC

“Help,” according to dictionary.com is defined as “to provide what is necessary to accomplish a task or satisfy a need.”  It is good to ask for help. At school, tutors are there to help you make your life that much easier.

At Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC), tutoring comes in various forms and many subjects. There is tutoring for math, biology, writing, as well as chemistry and other subjects. For students Samantha Sunderland, Lacey Holstein, and Elaina Pettit, tutoring is an effective tool that they use whenever they need help.

Samantha Sunderland is a 20-year-old college student. She said she goes to tutoring for math.
“Well, actually, my boyfriend helps me almost every day so he is kind of like my personal tutor,” Sunderland said.

Sunderland said that she always gains something when she goes to tutoring. If she could choose a personal tutor over a public tutor, she would pick a personal one.

Elaina Pettit on the other hand, does not use the math success part of tutoring, but she uses the Writing Success Center to help her with her papers. She said that the class she has to write the most papers in is English.

“The Writing Center has helped me with making my papers better and I realize what I do wrong with my writing. They also do not judge me when I go there and, therefore, I do not feel bad in seeking their help,” Pettit said.

EMCC hosts up to 15,000 students annually. Not all students are always on campus, but when there are a lot of students present, the Writing Center can get set back.

“Each time I have been to the Writing Center, they helped me right away, but I have heard of times where students wait a long time before being helped,” Pettit said.

Tutors need to have advanced degrees in their area of expertise to be hired by the Success Center. “Each tutor that has helped me out has gotten straight to the problem of my paper and told me what I needed. The tutors also help me find what is wrong with my paper. They teach me in that sense,” Pettit concluded.

Lacey Holstein has used tutoring for her chemistry class. “Tutoring has helped me understand some areas that I had trouble with,” Holstein said.

The atmosphere that is created in all of the tutoring areas is one that is approachable. Being comfortable in an area is very important because it allows for a student to keep going back to it. “I do feel comfortable going there if I find myself in a tricky situation in class,” Holstein said.

Being the tutor is completely different from being the person getting help. It takes a person with patience and good people skills as well as a good sense of knowledge to be able to do this. Tom Domek, tutor at the Writing Center, is the type of person who makes you feel comfortable while he helps you.

“Helping the students get comfortable is important because it all depends on how you speak to people. I have worked with people before and it takes practice in how you talk to them. It is also easier to get the students to talk about what their context is about in the paper,” Domek said.

That is not all. Domek has a journalism degree as well as being a published author and being a lecturer. Although tutoring is only a part-time job, Domek has a background that allows him to go into different paths. “I have a degree in journalism as well as in creative writing. I would want to become a full-time teacher at Estrella and the paths that I would be able to follow are because of my background is journalism, creative writing and literature,” he said.

It seems that when you are a tutor, you have to worry about a lot of things. Not only do they have to worry about making the student comfortable in the subject that they are in but also do they have to help them understand what it is they were doing. Writing does not come easily to some people, but others have the gift of writing.

“I always enjoyed writing and it felt natural. I have no anxiety when I write but when you help a student get less anxiety when writing, then that means that we have helped them,” Domek said.

In comparison, Catherine Luse is a full-time tutor for the Writing Center. She does not want to teach classes and prefers the one-on-one tutoring. “There are different rules that apply to different paper types so it is almost like knowing a different range of subjects,” Luse said.

There are different formats of papers that the Writing Success Center helps to edit, including the American Psychological Association (APA), Modern Language Association (MLA), American Chemical Society (ACS), and the Associated Press (AP) styles.

Luse has been a tutor for five weeks. “When you tutor someone, you really understand the person and it is easier to help them,” Luse said.

EMCC also has the online Writing Center. That is where the students can turn in their papers online and the tutors edit those papers. There is a downside to online editing though.

“Online, we can’t spend a lot of time editing a paper. We have to give edits in a short amount of words so that the student can understand us in order to be clear about what needs to be done. When we do the one-on-one tutoring, we are allowed to give more feedback and if the students have a question, they can ask us,” Luse said.

For some reason, sometimes students do not learn crucial things in high school. “Students are able to learn here and sometimes we teach them things that they didn’t know before. It makes classwork that much easier,” Luse said.

Chelsey Peterson is an EMCC student. Peterson goes to the Writing Success Center. “I don’t go there very often, but when I have a big paper to write, I go there for help,” Peterson said.

It takes practice to become good at something. “Personal tutors are a little more, well, personal, but school tutors seem to have a little more experience depending on the environment,” Peterson said.  “They help me improve my writing and how to think about structures I can use for my next work,” she added.

The Writing Success Center is one of the few places that students can go to when they need help editing a paper but it is not the only resource that they have at their disposal. The Math Success and the Science Success Centers are available as well to help students with their homework.

For more information, please go to http://www.estrellamountain.edu/students/tutoring.