As the Fall semester kicks into high gear and academic course loads increase, stress can become an unwelcome companion for many students. However, Temple offers an array of free tools designed to help students conquer their academic challenges.
Free tutoring services are available in the Student Success Center, located on the second and third floors of Charles Library, offering students space, support and skills to manage and understand difficult class materials.
Students should utilize the SSC’s resources, not only to enhance their academic performance, but more importantly, to effectively handle and alleviate stress.
Academic pressure is a source of stress for 52 percent of college students who are struggling with mental health, according to a 2023 survey of 3,000 students by Inside Higher Education. Students could reduce their stress levels by seeking academic support and using resources to better understand course materials.
Accessing university-provided tutoring sessions is key for some students to succeed in the classroom, as tutoring helps reduce course failure rates from approximately 7 percent to 3 percent, according to a November 2020 study by the National Institute of Health.
Many students require extra guidance in understanding coursework — and that is completely normal.
“Having someone to help me organize my thoughts and help me with the process of even just setting up the project itself eased my anxiety for school because I had a lot going on at the time and I just didn’t know how to start it,” said Kieran McCarney, a senior social work major who used the SSC’s writing services during her sophomore year.
The SSC adapts to students’ various and personalized learning preferences. It offers one-on-one academic coaching as well as the Peer Assisted Study Sessions Program, so students can decide which learning methods work for them.
Students get paired with peer tutors who specialize in STEM, writing and language subjects. They can meet one time or consistently throughout the semester. In this program, students get to know their tutor and learn valuable skills, like time management, organization, study habits and self-advocacy.
“It’s really working together to figure out the best way to solve a problem,” said Cait Carolan, a senior anthropology major who has been working as a peer tutor in the SSC since her junior year. “It’s not us just copy editing your paper and fixing things for you.”
Another offered service, the PASS Program, consists of weekly interactive, small-group meetings led by peer tutors to review concepts in challenging courses. Once students make a PASS Program account, they can attend any PASS meetings for courses they’re enrolled in on the online schedule.
The STEM Learning Lab and The Writing Center are also available for free to students for additional academic assistance.
Students can use the tutoring sessions to ask specific questions or to practice class material. Peer tutors are meant to support students’ learning processes regardless of what that looks like.
“We always try to emphasize that you don’t even need to know what your question is,” said Kate White, the assistant director of language learning services at the SSC. “The tutor can help you figure out why you’re confused, why you might have a question about class.”
While the SSC’s services were used more than 21,000 times by students last year, some students don’t utilize them because they don’t know about them or feel uncomfortable using them.
“We are always booked and busy, but at the same time when I tell my friends what I do, a lot of them didn’t even know that the service existed,” Carolan said.
Some students may believe asking for help means they aren’t capable of doing the work themselves, so instead of addressing their doubts, they struggle in silence. This mindset is more common among students already facing academic challenges, which causes them to fall further behind, according to Educational and Psychology Review.
“I feel there is a lot of stigma around getting help, people are probably just nervous,” said April Roberts, a freshman neuroscience major. “We are forced to be independent.”
However, peer tutoring normalizes asking for help. College students generally find peer tutors less threatening and feel more comfortable getting academic assistance with them, Inside Higher Ed reported.
Peer tutors can relate to students in a way professors, advisors and parents can’t because they’re going through the same experiences and understand what it’s like to be a current college student. These shared experiences can make peer tutors more approachable than other university employees, and students may be more inclined to ask them questions.
“It definitely makes the process more collaborative, because us tutors, we don’t sell ourselves as professors, we are not perfect writers, we are also learning and we learn from our students as much as they learn from us,” Carolan said. “It takes a lot of the pressure off because we are able to have a conversation with them like a peer.”
Students should use the SSC’s tutoring services to their advantage, as they are free and adapt to students’ personalized needs. It’s more than okay to get extra support because it will help foster students’ success.