For the first few years of my college career, I was a cocky little sucker who was convinced that tutors were for the less-evolved, slower-thinking students on campus. Since I was “gifted” and had always been told that I was in possession of above average intelligence, I would of course be able to learn all college coursework instantly, perfectly, and with no assistance.
I know, what a dumb b**ch.
Because I’ve grown as a person, the irony of this is not lost on me: the “average” and “below average” kids showed higher levels of intelligence, common sense and basic survival skills than I had when they all joined study groups and headed to the tutoring center the first week of school.
It took me a few years, but I finally figured out that (a) I was going to actually have to work to learn all the material (sadly, no instantaneous absorption qualities do I possess), and (b) trying to get through college with no assistance just makes you look like a jackass. A jackass with a really expensive, crappy GPA.
The first trip to the tutoring center or to the prof’s office hours were the hardest. Once I got over the hump, I lived there. Later on, during Degree #2 I was technically in school full-time, but I was creatively spreading my classes out to mostly evening and online courses so I could be home with my infant daughter (only people who can hire drivers and butlers can afford childcare and tuition simultaneously). Which meant I was usually studying at home, halfway across Seattle, not on campus in the library where I could search out a classmate and ask a question about the homework.
I hated so much that feeling of being totally lost or confused by a physics or chem or calculus problem that I lost any self-consciousness associated with walking into the tutoring center, raising my hand before I even sat down, and asking for help. At some point, when my daughter was old enough to start preschool and I was on campus during the day like a real college student, I had the math tutoring center hours memorized and would just sit in there doing lab write-ups and math homework, raising my hand whenever I encountered a road block.
So the tutors saved my ass (once I managed to yank my own head out of it) and helped me figure out monumental, James Joyce-ian math and physics problems without ever giving me the answers or spoon-feeding me. I needed to understand how to do the problem, I didn’t want the answer. A tutor worth his or her salt never does the work for you. And if you find one who does, pray they’re tiny enough to fit inside your backpack so’s you can bring them along for exams.
Posted by Alexa Harrington