Opinion: Tutoring makes a difference

Guest column by Adam Elmkarkech

At every juncture of higher education, grades are king. Students, whether at a technical school, community college, top one-hundred university, or Ivy League, are embroiled in a collegiate culture that emphasizes their graded academic performance. From undergraduate to grad school, all students stress and strategize to ensure good grades and academic performance as a whole. Despite this single mindedness on grades, of the two million U.S. students, six hundred thousand will drop out. Eight hundred thousand will fail to graduate within four years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, among the top twenty self reported reasons for dropping out of college are failing grades, lack of preparation, and lack of a mentor. Furthermore, students from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds are far more likely to fall victim to college’s staggering drop out rates. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, among college dropouts, students initially taking remedial classes comprise seventy-five percent of eventual dropouts. First-generation students also represent over forty percent of total college dropouts. For many students, the late nights pouring over textbooks, study groups, and obsession with fulfilling their various rubrics just isn’t cutting it.

So, what can improve today’s university student’s chances of successfully navigating higher education? Studies show the most broadly effective measure to take is personal tutoring. According to research conducted at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, one on one tutoring was able to improve student grades in over eighty percent of researched cases. This study was conducted across multiple semesters with students from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds and over thirty-five majors. Students received tutoring in subjects like math, chemistry, biology, writing, history, sociology, and philosophy from both full-time faculty tutors and fellow student peer tutors. Tutors were available through walk in sessions, scheduled appointments, and weekly sessions. Tutors assisted students with their coursework and also worked with students seeking to develop their study skills, math skills, writings skills, and reading skills in a general way. According to research coordinator Johanna Dvorak, students benefited not only from the assistance in coursework but also the, “safe environment for students where a dumb question didn’t affect their grade.” Dvorak added, “they (students) come for feedback, consolation, and encouragement from the tutor.” One tutor said, “for the first time in their life they (students) can say they are enjoying a subject they may struggle with historically. That is actually one of my major goals: for them not to be afraid of it anymore.” For countless students, one on one tutoring can clearly provide the missing piece to improve grades, personalize education, and reduce the stress of striving for good grades.

Those of us at community college often find ourselves at a crossroads. Many of us plan to transfer to four-year institutions. Those of us in technical programs often intend to further our education beyond the attainment of our technical degree. To accomplish this, we need to perform

to our academic bests. Fortunately for us, DMACC provides personal tutoring in countless subjects from knowledgeable faculty and peer tutors. The statistics don’t lie, stop into an AAC on any DMACC campus today and uncover the missing piece of your higher education puzzle.

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