Brooklyn College Offers Free Peer Tutoring

Brooklyn College's Learning Center located at 1300 Boylan Hall

What many Brooklyn College students don’t know is that there is a Learning Center located at 1300 Boylan Hall, representing the culmination of a 30-year effort on the part of Brooklyn College.

Although the Learning Center is visible from the central entrance of Boylan Hall, many students tend to miss it, which is unfortunate because the Learning Center is one of the campus-wide academic assets that offers free peer tutoring and general advice on coursework across the curriculum. The Center is also stocked with computers and useful reference materials.

The Learning Center is a vast space that can accommodate up to 200 students at once. The Center provides one-on-one or group hour-long sessions of tutoring in writing, ESL (English as a second language), core courses, and dozens of other courses including foreign languages, mathematics, economics, and accounting.

“We have an ever-expanding ESL population at this school, which I tell everyone is a complete misnomer because English really is not the second language for a lot of these students, it’s their third or forth in some cases and they have the biggest obstacles to overcome, obviously. But because they have those obstacles, it also seems to make them work harder,” said John Cottrell, one of the several Master Tutors at the Learning Center, who basically oversees everything relevant during tutoring sessions.

“We [the Master Tutors] do a lot of paper chasing, in a sense, and public relations, if you will, for lack of a better term,” he said. Sometimes the Master Tutors even fill in for the regular tutors if they are absent.

The Learning Center typically carries out 14,000 tutoring sessions involving 3,000 students every year and a study of the Learning Center found that these students remain in college longer, pass standardized test more quickly, and achieve a higher grade point average than non-users.

Most of the workforce at the Learning Center is made up of students, both undergraduate and graduate, who have excelled in the respective subjects that they tutor in. Tutors must maintain a 3.5 GPA or higher in order to tutor in their respective subjects. Other tutors are also adjuncts, retirees, and even volunteers, who have been recommended by one of their professors.

Core tutors will either work with students one-on-one or in groups during scheduled hours, but the writing tutors strictly work with students one-on-one in order to brainstorm for a paper or work with a student to develop a concrete thesis statement. In order to see a writing tutor, it is best to schedule an appointment because walk-ins are not always guaranteed a session.

Under the latest director of the Learning Center, Richard Vento, new modifications have been made to the Center for the better.

John Cottrell works as a Master Tutor at the Learning Center

“To Rich’s credit, he can just come in and rearrange everything immediately,” said Cottrell.

Last year I worked as a volunteer tutor in writing at the Learning Center under Master Tutor John Cottrell, so I’ve experienced first hand what the environment of the Learning Center is like. It’s a useful resource and the tutors at the Learning Center are there to help, not to judge.

In my experience as a tutor, I’ve found that students often think that they can sit back for an hour and relax, while the tutor edits and further develops his or her paper, which is definitely not the how a tutoring session is supposed to go. The more a student puts in to a session, the more he or she is going to get out of the session. “I think the students who use the Learning Center to their advantage definitely benefit from it,” said Cottrell. Here are some useful tips I have devised in order to get the most out of your tutoring session experience.

If you want to inquire about the Learning Center, it’s open Monday through Thursday 10 AM to 7 PM and Friday 10 AM to 3 PM.

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