Monday, February 8, 2010

I Don't Understand

This semester, I am taking a philosophy class - PHIL 374, The Philosophy and Religion of India. I am discovering that I am not the only one in my class who has no earthly idea what is going on in the class. When the professor lectures, it is more like a history class. However, we are having to read from several books and the Vedic and Upanisadic scriptures are quite confusing. I have emailed my prof several times to talk about my confusion. I will see him this week during his office hours.

My son, Ryan, has also had an "I don't understand" experience. He is taking Calculus and, like me, he is not a math person. Last week, he went to the Math Dept. and found a tutor. I commended him on his initiative to take care of the problem now instead of at the end of the semester. I hope the tutoring will make a difference and he will be able to pass the class.

There are many resources on campus here at UT to ensure that students are successful in their college career. The main channel for putting students in touch with those resources is the Student Success Center. From there, students learn about tutors, workshops in note taking, etc. The university provides many opportunities for students who are struggling in a particular subject, struggling with a particular skill (writing, studying, etc.), or struggling with life issues, to overcome those struggles and be successful and whole.

However, even though the opportunities exist for students to learn to be successful, the students are the ones who have to seek out and take advantage of those opportunities. The professor is not going to suggest tutoring after the student has just failed his fourth quiz. Nor is the professor going to suggest counseling for that anxiety problem the student seems to have. It is up to the student to seek help.

Many students do not seek help - they do not go to see the prof during her office hours, they do not visit the Student Success Center to find out what tutoring resources are available, and they do not take advantage of the free on-campus counseling services. Why? Perhaps they feel ashamed or embarrassed. Perhaps they think they can ride this one out on their own. The university recognizes college can be a big and overwhelming place. That is why they provide success services.

What about nontrads? What do we do when we are struggling? I would hope we would seek out those success services as well. Prior to my separation from my husband, a friend suggested the free on-campus counseling services. I am glad I took his advice. When I was struggling in my Computer Science class two years ago, I asked the prof about tutoring. I was tutored by a graduate student and was able to pass the class. As nontrads, we are in a unique position from our younger classmates - we have families, are working, have been out of school for a while, etc. However, we still need to be able to use those success services.

If you are struggling and feel like, "I don't understand", seek out the resources to help you better understand. Do not be ashamed, embarrassed or think you can ride this one out on your own. Ask for help. Be successful in your academic pursuits. Stay tuned . . .


Anonymous said...

Some really good points.
Just because we're older doesn't mean we don't need help and advice. In fact, sometimes I found it was the maturer students who sought help and the younger ones tended to muddle through. As you say though, the support is there for all students. Good luck with the Philosophy class. I took a couple in my first year and they made my head hurt!

E. Sheppard said...

I will stay tuned. I was not aware of the separation. I think you are to be admired for your courage and tenacity. I am rooting for you.