When Good Students Struggle: Strategies and Options

sketch of student stress struggling and juggling

Sketch of Student Stress by Lisa Sheridan

End of the Semester Reflection

The Spring ’19 Semester is officially over today. At the end of the semester, it is a great idea to think back over the past 16 weeks. What worked? What could be improved? This column “When Good Students Struggle” is dedicated to providing students with strategies and options for success. Check out these the tools and resources as you plan your attack for the upcoming Fall ’19 Semester. It is important for students to remember that there is never any shame in asking for help. Everyone at SPS is invested in ensuring that students earn their degrees.

Free Tutoring for Students

Students at SPS have plenty of access to free tutoring. When help is needed with math-related projects, online learners can turn to the Quantitative Reasoning Fellows. Similarly, when a student is struggling with a written assignment, the services of the Writing Fellows are grade-savers.

Writing has always been my thing, so in my arrogance, I never used the services of the Writing Fellows. This past semester, I learned what a mistake that was.

Because I wasn’t pleased with the grade earned on a first paper in one of my classes, I turned to the Writing Fellows for help with my final paper. Even though my rough draft was reviewed by a classmate, I wanted to make sure that my paper earned top marks.

The site to get the appointment with my Writing Fellows tutor was a little clunky, but my perseverance paid off. A doctoral student named Erin helped me in two more draft phases of my paper. Due to scheduling issues, my final draft review was with a different grad student named Ivana. A big thank you to both Erin and Ivanna for their patience and reminding me to stick to my thesis.

Ultimately, I got the grade I wanted. More importantly, I know that I will use the Writing Fellows on many more projects. By the way, the Writing Fellows work weekends and nights – so there is no reason not to use them!

Writing Fellow Erin in session with student. Giving Strategies and options.
Erin coaching me for my final paper in an online consultation.

SPS also offers e-tutoring, but I haven’t tried that service yet. The e-tutoring site sets up an individual account for each student that employs this strategy. Students who have used e-tutoring are invited to share their experiences in the comment section below.

Increasing Class Options With E-Permit

Sometimes an Analog Classroom Is a Wiser Choice

Maybe online isn’t always the best class option. Some classes are better taken in person. This certainly was the case for me a few semesters ago.

I needed to take a math class to fulfill my degree requirements. Since I had a long break before returning to college, it had been quite a while since I had taken a math class. Foolishly, I chose statistics, thinking it would be applied math, and therefore easier. Of course, I should have consulted my advisor about this decision. A quick inquiry would have changed my incorrect assumption about statistics being easier than regular college math! When in doubt, ask. There is no stigma attached to asking for guidance.

Now I know that online math was not a great option for me. Reading and comprehending math without the aid of instructor demonstrations was a struggle. Unfortunately, The Quantitative Reasoning Fellows didn’t sync with my schedule so they couldn’t help either. Ultimately, I barely passed the class, and I really hurt my near-perfect GPA. I wish I knew about the options for in-person evening math classes that are available through e-permit.

Sometimes the Right Class Is Not in the Catalog

What happens if the class that is needed is not in the SPS catalog? SPS students can take classes from any CUNY campus via e-permit. Alexandra Helmers, Assistant Registrar, walked me through the process of registering with e-permit. Ms. Helmers assured me that there was no extra fee for using e-permit. She further explained, “Any student with a GPA of at least 2.0 can take e-permit classes, except for first semester students. Students should work with their advisor to make sure the chosen class is on track for their degree.”

By using Global Search, students can find available classes from all the CUNY campuses. Global Search has filters to help streamline the search. Here is a link to a PDF that gives step-by-step instructions on getting an e-permit class.

After learning about e-permit, I signed up for a Summer Semester Creative Writing class that was offered online through BMCC. It took a little while to confirm my enrollment in the class because BMCC students get priority placement. So I recommend students using e-permit sign up for a back-up class – just in case.

If only I knew about e-permit back when I took my statistics course! I wish that I had asked for help, I would have known about my options.

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  1. Pingback: When Good Students Struggle | The Kiosk

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