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Arts on view
Tutoring sparks “warm, fuzzy feeling”
by Amanda Daunis ’03 and Eric Kaufman ’03
We’re the reluctant mascots for Skidmore College’s controversial brainchild, Liberal Studies 1. You’ve seen us huddled together in lecture. You’ve either attended or laughed at our review sessions. You might think we’re intelligent, you might think we’re nerdy, or you might just think there’s something seriously wrong with anyone willing to take LS 1 twice, voluntarily. But we are “a lot like you.”
We became LS tutors for a variety of reasons. Some of us wanted a challenge after slacking off freshman year. Devoting eleven hours a week minimum to tutoring, on top of a regular college workload, doesn’t leave much time for exploring the vices of college life. For some, it was an opportunity to assume a leadership position that wouldn’t require becoming a nark, although some students still feared that we would turn them in for violations of the room and board agreement. (LS tutors do not have the power, or desire, to do this.) Others saw it as an opportunity to get in good with the faculty. Some of us really are nerds who honestly enjoyed LS 1 the first time. The rest of us were just in it for the biweekly paychecks and the guaranteed single dorm room on campus.
Before we became tutors, no one ever told us just how much time was involved; we just shrugged off the not-so-subtle warnings we got from former tutors and faculty members. Let’s just say it now: LS tutoring practically takes over your life for an entire semester. It gets to the point where “LS tutor” almost becomes your identity; we were no longer just Skidmore students, but these strange, elusive, other beings. Introducing yourself as an LS tutor is not a good way to make friends or pick up freshmen. People don’t come to your room during office hours just to hang out; they actually expect you to be able to explain the “symbolic self” (whatever the hell that is). After a while, you stop noticing those looks you get when the subject comes up. To put it mildly, it’s intense.
Four hours a week are spent in discussion and lecture (and you swore that one semester of that trek to Bernhard Theater was enough!). Then there are four office hours a week, whether or not anyone ever shows up. If that wasn’t enough, all tutors are required to take a class, ID 201 (including three papers), in which we discuss tutoring issues and go over the readings…again. Of course, the school still expects you to deal with whatever other classes are kicking your ass at any given time. And then there’s the occasional student who will drop by at any hour of the day or night, asking for help on a paper that’s due tomorrow and presently is beyond hope. Basically, you are always expected to be ready. Fantastic!
OK, enough hardcore ragging; it isn’t all bad. The whole LS tutor thing really helps with time management skills, getting your priorities in order, and honing your leadership abilities (it’s great practice for future education majors). It gives you a new respect for your intellectual and organizational capabilities, and if it goes the way it should, it’s a valuable opportunity to form a close relationship with the faculty member whose section you are assigned to. The tutoring experience offers opportunities to have quality intellectual discussions with your peers. And sharing in the (human) experience of revisiting LS 1 inevitably leads to a unique bond among the tutors, entirely unlike those formed in ordinary classes.
So, would we do it again? It’s hard to say. LS 1 tutoring certainly makes for an interesting, if crazy, semester. You get a warm, fuzzy feeling knowing that you are personally helping the incoming freshmen through their transition to college and doing something productive with your time in the process. LS tutoring is absolutely a valuable experience, but whether or not that balances out with the level of stress that goes along with it is a pertinent, personal question. Anyone considering taking on the responsibility must be ready to accept all that it entails.
If you really believe that you are prepared, and have some excitement for engaging with the LS 1 reader again, taking on the role of tutor is an excellent way to…avoid living in Moore Hall.
This essay was adapted, with permission, from the Skidmore News of February 9, 2001.