Study Space Series: Campus tutoring services help students focus, apply skills

By Kyla Gardner

Some students may feel they know the best places to study, searching out nooks in the academic buildings or reclining in the Gallery Lounge in the Holmes Student Center.

But once they sit down and crack open those textbooks and class notes, some students may not know how best to proceed.

NIU provides tutoring centers that might be the best place on campus to improve study skills.

ACCESS offers three types of studying resources: Peer Assisted Learning, Supplemental Instruction and the A+ program. ACCESS has drop-in tutoring centers in Grant South, Douglas Hall and Lincoln Hall.

ACCESS provides academic support services for students, offering tutoring for most general education courses. ACCESS Math is the subject with the highest demand for tutoring help, said ACCESS Director Shevawn Eaton.

PAL student tutors provide one-on-one meetings to help students assess their strengths and weaknesses and then improve their study skills.

Eaton said she sees a lot of students come in for tutoring help that were strong students in high school without having to put in a lot of work. Upon entering college classes, which can be more rigorous with less personal attention and a faster pace, they may not feel they know how to study best.

“Our folks are trained to talk you through that stuff,” Eaton said.

Eaton said students should seek tutoring help if they realize that they don’t even know where to begin with questions to ask a professor for a class.

If they sit in class feeling lost even after doing the readings and paying attention to the professor, it might be time to seek a tutor. Before consulting with tutoring resources, students should consult their professor for extra help, Eaton said.

Sean Bussey, junior Spanish language and literature major, works as a Spanish tutor through PAL.

He said students should seek a tutor when they know they’re falling behind because they haven’t grasped crucial information. For Spanish, that might be foundational grammar principles.

“I would definitely say [tutoring helps students],” he said. “I’ve seen students raise their grade an entire letter grade, even more than that, from a C to an A.”

Bussey said if students can’t grasp the material as taught by their professor, a peer might be able to better explain it to them.

“It definitely helps to get a new perspective,” he said.

The Counseling and Student Development Center is another place to improve study skills. It provides the Coaching for Academic Success Program, which helps students develop general study skills, according to its website.

“The primary goal of the coaching program is to help students learn more in less time with greater ease and confidence,” according to the website.

Students meet one-on-one with staff members who help them with skills like time management, textbook reading, note-taking and test preparation.

Another resource for studying at NIU is the Writing Center, located in Stevenson South and Room 302 of the Founders Memorial Library. The writing center offers one-on-one consultations to help students plan topic ideas, organize drafts, improve language use, integrate critical thinking skills into their writing and learn about the different writing styles needed for different disciplines.