Centers for Academic Success Centralized with New Learning Commons

By Ian Conrardy

New learning commons on all three campuses provide easier access to tutoring in the Centers for Academic Success.

The resource centers for math, science, reading, writing, supplemental instruction and the communication lab is now offered in one location on each major campus with a drop-in option for students to come and take advantage of whatever help they need. Charleston is not centralized yet but it will be coalesced soon.

Director of CAS Shellie Keller had some insights on the new commons and why the need for expansion is so pressing. “Tutoring was dispensed under all kinds of different departments.” The CAS recently unified the tutoring programs so they can be more accessible to students.

Joe Hicks, coordinator of the tutoring center, also noted that the CAS intends to expand its weekend hours due to high volumes of students that utilize the services. It is already open Saturdays and there are plans to open on Sundays.

According to Hicks 250 to 300 students come in every day Monday through Thursday at the Charleston campus. That is approximately 32,000 students served during the two major semesters at the one campus. There are thousands served at the other locations too. The numbers will go up.

“If a student needs help in writing a paper, needs help with a math problem and needs help with a science assignment, the student no longer needs to go to three places to get help,” said Peter Legner, coordinator of tutoring. “For CAS it also helps with efficiency in staffing. Suppose a tutor can help with physics and math instead of only placing the tutor in one center where they can help a limited number of students, this same tutor is now available to help where he or she is needed for the most number of students.”

“Historically it has always been the desire for all tutoring services to be in the same location,” Legner said. “But the administration has made it a priority to find the space to make all that happen on all campuses. All of us who work with CAS are thankful to the administration for working so hard at a difficult task. The only drawback to this system is finding the space where all services can be housed.”

An additional challenge is finding student tutors and interns who are qualified. Keller and Legner iterate how daunting it is to find enough tutors in as many subjects as possible on all three campuses. They are working on it. Through financial aid work-study programs, tutoring is a potential job.

Hicks commented on why CAS matters. “Oh it’s huge. I have had many students tell me over the years how important it is to keep up their abilities to pass classes and get help in classes. So yeah, the Centers are very instrumental in helping students.

On a more personal note, Keller commented on her own journey through CSN. “I was a first-generation student. I went to CSN and we all get to CSN with varied levels of preparedness.” She used the tutoring services as a student and it was one of the things that inspired her to work in this department once she finished her degree. Some students need that extra push to keep their grades up. “The big thing is that we want to be there for every student to help with their academic careers.”


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