By Rebecca Zisch
On January 17, just days before the start of the spring 2008 semester, a retreat was held to make some decisions about the free academic tutoring program that is available to all students at Nevada State College. Facilitated by Adeste Sipin, Academic Counselor for the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and attended by ten students who work as Academic Aides, the retreat resulted in the launch of the newly conceived Student Academic Center, or “the SAC.”
According to Sophomore Carey Breymann, the retreat “gave the students the chance to make [the SAC] their own.” Breymann has been at NSC since she was a student at NSC High School and has also been an Academic Aide. Now she works for the SAC coordinating all of the Aides and their schedules. (See the current schedule here.)
To be hired as an Academic Aide, a student must have two professor recommendations from the subject that he or she is interested in tutoring, a strong academic record and GPA. Each applicant also goes through an interview process just as with any professional job.
Free academic assistance has long been available in its own dedicated space in the back of the Great Hall on both “by appointment” and “drop-in” basis. And for students looking to study on their own, the SAC is also a place where a quiet studying atmosphere is maintained. There are computers and plenty of work space available.
But there had also been some interest in investigating how that space and the services provided there could more strongly serve the studying needs of NSC students and the retreat helped move that vision forward. Additions to the SAC’s programs include scheduled group sessions and free workshops for academic success and career development organized and led by students working as Academic Aides.
Sophomore Jami Kessler, who is pleased with the “positive changes” in the SAC, is running group sessions for math students this semester. Nine calculus students attended the first session that Kessler arranged. She thinks group studying is “great for interaction with students” and the sessions that focus on MATH 181 and MATH 124 are planned to run throughout the semester.
Kessler is also quick to add that the chance to lead these sessions is an invaluable opportunity for her own professional development, since she is planning on becoming a teacher or professor. “Public Speaking was not my favorite thing. But after [running group sessions], I’m feeling more confident.”
Marikje Blokker is working in the SAC for the first time this fall as an Academic Aide for English and writing and leading free workshops. At her previous school, Hartnell Junior College in Salinas, California, Blokker tutored and led a series of 23 different workshops on study and writing skills.
“It was my favorite job, so I’m excited about planning workshops for NSC.” Blokker led the first workshop of the semester on January 31 offering techniques for brainstorming and outlining writing assignments. “The workshops are fun… there are always activities and handouts to take home.”
Some of the academic success workshop topics planned for the coming months include stress management, time management and preparing for tests. Other career development topics will include resume writing, interviewing techniques and other subjects that are helpful for students looking for jobs.
According to statistics collected in fall 2007, only about 20% of students who visit the SAC are looking to study on their own. It seems that a lot of students are seeking help from their peers, whether through drop-in hours or scheduled appointments.
Blokker said, “I hope the workshops are helpful for students to realize that they’re not the only ones that have questions… some students might feel embarrassed that they didn’t know something... I admit it when I don’t know something. Nobody has to have all of the answers.”
With its new name and energy, the SAC better reflects how genuinely committed NSC’s students are to their education. According to Sipin, the SAC “is more than a just tutoring center. It’s an academic community. A place to study. It’s a conducive environment for the learning process.”
This spring is Raymond Rust’s third semester helping peers with Chemistry and Biology at NSC. He agrees that the transformation of the SAC is something important for students who want to succeed. “We’re creating an atmosphere where you can meet other students who are serious about their education… if you’re serious about establishing yourself as a professional, this is where you want to be and these are the people you want to around.”
There is a lot of excitement about the future of the SAC. Breymann said, “I’m really looking forward to the new [Liberal Arts and Sciences] building. We’ll have a much bigger space and offices and it will be less noisy than it is now for students trying to study.” With the changes this spring and the new building in the fall, it looks like the SAC is here to stay and the students who work there will be positive advocates for learning success at NSC for a long time to come.
If you’re interested in applying to work as an Academic Aide at the SAC or would like to schedule an appointment, call the SAC Hotline at 702-992-2990 or send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on Nevada State College, call : 702.990.2000 or visit : nsc.edu.