Excel Centers help new students adapt to heavy course loads, offer tutoring solutions

August 29, 2017

Eric Friedberg

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    For many first-year students, adjusting to college classes can be challenging and stressful.

    Full-time course loads might come as a shock to some students, who find that their high school study habits prove to be ineffective with three-hour lectures full of material.

    The Excel Centers, which include the Communication Center, the Languages and the Social Sciences Center, the Mathematics Center, the Science Center and the Writing Center, have created programs to better assist students in their studies.

    One-on-one tutoring sessions and resources are just a few available options that students can take advantage of to prepare for exams and projects.     

    Peer tutors at each center are students themselves. According Kendra Engstrom, a senior tutor in the Mathematics Center, being able to understand the student perspective helps tutors relate to those they are tutoring – students.

    “This helps make the student feel more comfortable when expressing their concerns to the tutor without fear of judgment. It is for this reason that we also encourage supportive environments where the tutors can really relate to the students,” said Engstrom.

    “We’re here [at the Mathematics Center] to help everybody whether it’s the student who needs support with algebra or help with more advanced engineering classes.”

    The centers are designed to support students in their classes by tailoring each tutoring session to that individual student’s learning needs and knowledge level.

    Heather Gutekunst, a tutor at the Writing Center, said she reads a student’s paper aloud with them to improve their writing.

    She believes this exercise gives the writer a reader’s perspective and a clearer understanding of how their writing comes across to someone who has not been acquainted with the course material.  

    “Students have a hard time being able to see the larger picture and tailor their writing to make it understandable to people who have never read the book or seen the film,” said Gutekunst

    Gutekunst found that students struggle most with organizing their thoughts onto paper and steering clear of general grammatical errors.

    “Learning how to write in APA or MLA format can prove as a challenge to many students,” she said.

   The Excel Centers offer various services that go beyond tutoring. For example, in the Communication Center, staff members can help students navigate through presentation tools such as PowerPoint, Prezi, Haiku Deck and conduct in-person and virtual mock interviews.

    The Excel Languages and Social Sciences Center offers tutoring in Spanish, German, French, Japanese, Chinese, American Sign Language and English for non-native and international students. Social Sciences tutors cover topics in anthropology, philosophy, psychology and sociology.

    The Science Center has textbooks available for checkout, past tests and quizzes to help students study and anatomy models.

    While most of the centers encourage walk-in sessions, the staff highly recommends reserving an appointment with a tutor so that enough time can be devoted to that student’s needs.

    “During the first three weeks of the semester, the Writing Center gets busier. However, during finals week, things really start to pick up, and it’s almost impossible to get a tutor to help you without an appointment,” said Gutekunst.

    To schedule an appointment or learn more about what each Center offers, visit uccs.edu/excel/who-we-are.html.