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contributed by Nancy
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I taught a large introductory-level course at a university for several years, and before that, I was a teaching assistant ("TA") leading tutorial sessions. During that time, I saw many students spending $20 or more per hour for the services of a private tutor.
In many cases, students can get all the help they needed for free from those who know the course material best, the course instructors and TAs.
I was consistently surprised that although the course I taught might have an enrollment of 250 or more students, often no students would visit me during my office hours. Perhaps they were intimidated to approach their TA or instructor, or perhaps they assumed that because there were so many students in their class, that there would be a lineup out the door. But that was rarely the case, not just for me, but for many of my colleagues.
Before you shell out money for a tutor, try visiting your TA or professor during scheduled office hours. You may end up with free one-on-one or small group tutoring sessions tailored to your needs. If their office hours are truly inconvenient for you, you may be able to schedule an appointment at another time.
Believe it or not, most TAs and professors of large classes are very happy to have students visit them during office hours. It gives them a chance to interact with students as individuals and not just as faces in a crowd, and to get feedback on how the students find the course material and presentation.
And you should note that it is to your benefit for the TA or professor to know you as an individual. If they see that you are working hard on the material, even if you are not an "A" student, they may be more likely to extend a deadline if you face a genuine emergency, give you a reference if you ask for one, or recommend you for a research or teaching assistantship down the road.
If you are lucky, you may also find that interacting with your TAs and instructors will be one of the lasting memories of your academic experience.
"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it by mailto:MyStory@stretcher.com.
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