Rutgers peer tutoring program celebrates 10th anniversary
Each semester, many students struggle to keep up with their classes. Whether it be in a huge lecture hall or a tiny classroom, some Rutgers students may fall behind in their grades due to the difficulty or lack of understanding of their class.
But things do not need to end there. For struggling students, there are options, including a free tutoring program available right here at Rutgers—New Brunswick.
The School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program (SASHP) One-on-One Tutoring Program provides free one-on-one tutoring to all students at Rutgers University Learning Centers, located on each campus across New Brunswick.
Dorene Pardun, the assistant to Assistant Dean Karima Bouchenafa at the School of Arts and Sciences, is a central figure in the program’s leadership and detailed its day-to-day operations in an interview.
“The SASHP Tutoring Program started 10 years ago with the formation of the School of Arts and Sciences,” Pardun said. “The One-on-One Tutoring was originally created by Rutgers College honors students in 2005. With the creation of the SAS Honors Program in 2007, the SASHP continued the program, joining forces with the RU Learning Centers.”
Pardun said the tutors at One-on-One consist of members of the School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program or the Honors College. Potential tutors must be in good academic standing and have completed at least one semester at Rutgers.
Students can apply by filling out an application and participating in a training session, she said. Afterwards, the trained tutors can tutor for the courses that they have taken at Rutgers and have passed with excellent grades.
And while only SASHP students may become tutors, these tutoring sessions are available to all students across each campus at Rutgers—New Brunswick. Pardun said that all tutoring appointments can be made on a user-friendly program created by the Rutgers University IT Department.
All Rutgers students have the opportunity to log onto the website with their NetID and select a tutoring session that fits their schedule.
“This is the School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program's 10-year anniversary,” Pardun said. “We are extremely proud of our students. They are very busy with their rigorous schedules, yet they find time to give back to Rutgers as tutors in the SASHP Tutoring Program.”
Aparna Anand is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore studying genetics who has been tutoring for the SASHP One-on-One Program since the Spring of 2017. Anand said she was inspired to start tutoring after hearing about the opportunity from Bouchenafa.
“I was interested in becoming a tutor because I liked the idea of teaching people a subject that I like,” Anand said. “I tutor General Chemistry I and II, and I decided to tutor both because I love chemistry and I also like teaching people, so I thought that becoming a tutor would be a good way of doing both.”
Yuqing Zhou is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore who makes time to tutor General Biology I and II, Precalculus and Intermediate Algebra, among other similar math classes despite being a commuter student.
Tutoring is her way of contributing to the Rutgers community, Zhou said.
“Becoming a tutor was another way for me to get involved with Rutgers, help out the community and be a positive figure while representing the Honors Program,” Zhou said. “In addition, I was an art instructor for the past four years, therefore I have experiences in teaching in general. I have always liked tutoring and it's a great way for me to help others.”
Pardun highlighted the importance of the program and the students who participate in it, noting the advantages the Rutgers community gains from programs like One-on-One tutoring.
“This program is important to the University because it serves two purposes,” Pardun said. “The first is that SAS Honors Program and Honors College students volunteer their time to the program. They are rewarded by the satisfaction of giving back to other Rutgers students. The second purpose is (that) the University benefits from a free one-on-one tutoring program offered to all students at Rutgers.”
In order for someone to become a tutor, Pardun said it takes more than simply having the desire to teach others about a topic they are passionate about.
There are certain standards students need to meet in order to teach a subject. Specifically, student applicants need to earn a "B+" or higher in the class they desire to tutor, she said.
“Being an effective tutor is a challenge, but students are tutoring in their academic strengths. With training, students who received an 'A' in a subjects such as Organic Chemistry, General Chemistry, Calculus II and Physics are able to pass on that knowledge. Our tutors are very happy to pass on their knowledge and to assist other students (to) succeed,” Pardun said.
Zhou said teaching others is a great way for the tutor to test their own knowledge by piecing the information together in a logical and relatable sense.
“The key is to be honest and humble,” she said. “Being arrogant won't help the student listen to you more or better. It is important to set that tone of 'I want to help you' rather than 'I know more than you.'"
Anand echoed Zhou's sentiment, adding that the fact that they are students themselves really allows them as tutors to connect with the learning student.
“A great moment I had last semester was when a girl came in and was very upset about her last Chemistry exam,” Anand said. “I was able to work with her for two sessions to help her do better on the next exam. She came back after the exam and was so excited that she did well and was so grateful for my help. There isn't really a part of tutoring that I dislike.”