Studying is learning, and learning leads to success, which is why it’s so appropriate that USF calls its college study hub the Academic Success Center. It’s not just named well, it works – if you use it. Why people don’t use study centers or wait too long to use them is a study in human nature. This article is about academic excellence, so we’ll simply look at how Academic Success Centers help you make the grade in college.
Academic Success Center Tools
College learning centers are commonplace, enough so that there’s a National College Learning Center Association. No, you don’t need a brick-and-mortar center to learn how to study, but the tools and resources available at the good ones make them worthwhile.
Consider the USF Academic Success Center’s mission statement: “The Academic Success Center (ASC), a diverse peer-to-peer collective in collaboration with the USF community, provides learning services, fosters intellectual independence, and cultivates professional development in support of student engagement and successful academic persistence.”
The USF ASC provides free academic support and tutoring services. The center’s vision statement lists six total ways the ASC strives for student and staff member success.
College Student Success:
- By offering a wide range of services that respect diverse talents and ways of learning.
- By tapping interpersonal skills in an atmosphere that nurtures student-to-student collaboration and engagement.
- By building university community partnerships to enrich students’ educational experience.
Staff Member Success:
- By boosting competence and lifelong learning through professional development opportunities.
- By adopting innovative learning technologies.
- By crafting assessment processes that continually inform planning and decision-making.
USF’s center is a stellar example of what college learning centers can do, and there are four main reasons why:
USF Tutoring Hub
The heart of the Tutoring Hub’s peer-to-peer approach is a small army of students that undergoes College Reading & Learning Association (CRLA) tutor training. There are three levels of CRLA training available to USF tutors, and that training defines the ASC’s peer-to-peer push for academic excellence.
That’s the who of the Tutoring Hub. Here’s the how:
- Tutors tackle a wide variety of subjects. Help is available by appointment, or you can drop in.
- Learning support courses feature a one-credit Strategic Learning class to help you assess yourself as a learner and develop a customized approach to improving a range of study skills, from time management, reading, and writing to taking tests.
- Successful students trained as study skills mentors provide one-one-one academic coaching.
- Appointment tutoring is available for standardized tests such as GRE math and College Board CPT review.
USF SMART Lab
The SMART Lab “is an innovative learning environment dedicated to supporting students in introductory math courses through tutoring assistance and technology.” The USF SMART Lab solves the challenge of getting students to Learning Assistance before it’s too late. This proactive model reinforces the time necessary to succeed in SMART Lab paired courses, the work involved, and the availability of help at the touch of a button.
Physically, it’s a computer lab where students:
- Use software to tackle assignments at their own pace.
- Get instant feedback as they learn by doing.
- Get on-demand assistance from instructors, tutors, and/or teaching assistants.
Drop-in tutoring areas are brought to bear, too, with students taking entry-level calculus, physics, and statistics engaging with peer tutors.
SMARThinking at USF
SMARThinking is an online Pearson product that all USF Bulls have access to, and provides online tutoring support 24/7 in over 60 subjects by simply dropping-in online, scheduling a future session, or submitting a question and receiving an answer within 24 hours. USF students can access SMARThinking via the ASC webpage, or directly from Canvas.
SMARThinking is aimed to complement ASC services. Remember to always opt for the face-to-face experience in the ASC, but when you're stuck, need academic assistance, or can't get to the ASC, SMARThinking is the service to use.
USF Writing Studio
At the Writing Studio, students get direction from writing consultants on goals and concerns. It’s a collaborative process in which samples of your writing are analyzed and suggestions are implemented.
Coaching and handouts tackle academic and professional writing, revising and editing, citations and writing styles, and style and usage.
And in its newsletter, the Writing Studio practices what it teaches while delivering tips.
Not all college learning centers are created equal, but if you can access one as good as what the Bulls have, making the grade won’t be a challenge that has you scrambling for tips on overcoming the fear of failure, which too often is the reason studying becomes a matter of too little, too late.
In fact, if a USF student feels that the ASC doesn't offer support for a class or feels that the support wasn't adequate, the ASC encourages students to speak with the ASC Admin team to fix any issues and to see if tutoring in that class can be offered.
Using your ASC's free services will help you make the grade in college.
About Joe Emerson
Joe Emerson spent 30 years as a magazine and newspaper reporter, editor and copyeditor who turned to freelancing after 20 years with The Tampa Tribune, which closed in 2016 after 125 years of serving the Tampa Bay area. Writing and delivering valuable information remain his passion.