The Tutor Becomes the Tutored: A New Approach

In high school, I was always the friend that people came to for help with homework. I was a math tutor in my school’s peer tutoring program, and I answered dozens of late-night text messages from people panicking about a chemistry test the next day. Most high school classes came fairly naturally to me, but within the first week of my college Calculus III lecture, it seemed like my professor was basically speaking a foreign language, and I found myself attending my first tutoring session. Classes in college are going to challenge you much more than they did in high school, and that’s good. By just adjusting your approach, finding what works for you, and realizing that it’s more than okay to ask for help, you’ll be able to conquer these challenges and grow even more as a student.

Utilize your class time.

Taking classes in a large lecture hall setting is a huge adjustment for freshmen, and it can be a bit intimidating when the professor goes at a faster pace or doesn’t get to answer many questions. Luckily, there’s a solution for that. All large lectures are broken up into discussion sections, which are smaller classes of 25-30 students that meet once or twice a week to go over the material from lectures in a more traditional classroom setting. This means that discussion sections are a great place to ask questions and get more personalized help, plus they are usually more collaborative so you can get help from peers and form study groups to work with outside of class. Many students think they can just skip discussion sections since the material is all review, but that review will often build off what you learned in your lecture, so it’s in your best interest to attend.

Ask for help.

Beyond the classroom, if you still feel like you need additional help with the material or simply want to go over some additional practice, you can attend office hours and tutoring sessions. Each professor will hold office hours a few times a week, which is a chance for you to walk in and ask questions one-on-one. Additionally, most classes will have their own variations on tutoring sessions, which are run by TAs or students who had previously done well in the course. While people sometimes believe that the “smartest” students do not go to tutoring or office hours, you’ll find that the most successful students are the ones who aren’t afraid to ask for additional help when they need it.

Look at studying from a new perspective.

Classes in college will require you to think differently about how you study, and the key is to find what works for you early on. This might require spending some extra hours outside of class reviewing the material from lecture, working through homework assignments at a slower pace, or reaching out for extra help when you need it, but the most important thing is that, once you find a method that helps you learn best, you get into a routine and stick to it. College classes are a big change from high school classes, and conquering these classes will require a big change in your approach to studying as well, but as long as you come into college with a willingness to learn in new ways and an open-minded attitude towards seeking out help when you need it, success is sure to follow!  



Class of 2023
I'm a Civil and Environmental Engineering major in the Grainger College of Engineering, and I hope to one day work to lessen society's impact on the environment. I am a major nerd, have a passion for all things outdoors, and love exploring all the different opportunities that the University of Illinois has to offer!

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