Academic Support Services
When you are considering schools and trying to decide what might be the best fit, it’s important to find out about the variety and effectiveness of academic supports offered. Of course, this is especially important if you have needed, utilized and benefited from academic support services in the past. But even if you haven’t needed any academic support up to now, it’s worthwhile to understand what schools offer in this area since college coursework is more rigorous and might demand different skills from you than you are used to.
Here are some things to consider when it comes to academic support services.
Find out how the college offers academic advising, especially to first year students. Check out the advising office website and see if you can get a feel for how easy it is to make an appointment with an advisor and how well staffed the office is. See whether the office offers programs that help with things like study skills and test anxiety. These kinds of programs show that they have a broad and well-rounded approach to advising.
Most schools offer tutoring in various subjects, usually provided by other students who have previously taken the classes. Familiarize yourself with the tutoring options available. Is there a cost associated with tutoring? Are the tutors only available for specific subjects or courses? You’ll also want to know about tutoring schedules; for instance, some schools may have group tutoring at specific dates and times, while others offer more flexibility with individual sessions so that you can meet with a tutor when it’s convenient for you.
Writing is a major component of many college courses (ok, maybe not so much in math and many sciences). Thankfully, most schools also offer support in the form of a writing center, where students can get help with all types of writing assignments. Depending on the services available, they might be able to help you get started on a paper, revise something you’ve written, or proofread content for spelling, grammar, and formatting. Some also offer group workshops where you can get more general tips and advice to improve your writing skills. Try to find out what schools offer when you are looking to apply. Tip – Strong writing skills will help you in life no matter what course of study and career path you choose. Learn to write well!
Faculty office hours
Something else to think about when you’re choosing a school is the availability of faculty members for office hours or extra help. Generally, at schools with a lower student-to-faculty ratio (more on that here), the professors will be more accessible to provide support and/or guidance outside of class time. Of course, this depends on the individual faculty member and how involved they are with students. At bigger schools, sometimes teaching assistants will hold office hours to help students with assignment or course questions. You can talk to current students, or check out a site like Rate My Professors to find out more about the faculty at each school. Are they willing to meet with their students individually for extra help? Do they respond to emails quickly? Do they seem to care about their students’ learning? These are just a few questions you might want to ask.
These are available at nearly all colleges to help students with documented disabilities—including mental health conditions and learning disabilities—access accommodations, such as extra time to complete tests or assistance with note-taking. Read more about campus disabilities services here.