"At Adelphi, the goal of tutoring, is the exchange of study skills." —Anustha Shrestha '15

Growing up in Nepal, I did well academically and always heeded my dad’s advice: “By listening carefully in class, you will be able to grasp 80 percent of the material; the rest is a little perseverance on your own.” I stuck by this golden rule and strongly believed that to seek outside help reflected weakness. When stumped by classwork, I would spend hours at home to crack the code on my own.

In my first years at Adelphi, I stuck by my dad’s mantra, even though a number of my friends became peer tutors at the University’s Learning Center and started urging me to join them. Eventually, I broke down and agreed to give it a go.

So on a sunny day in April 2013, I shuffled slowly down the 10 steps into the basement of Earle Hall for an interview with Matthew Lavery, the center director. My dad’s words played over and over in my mind as I descended.

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“As tutors, we asked guiding questions and let students come to an answer on their own.” – Anustha Shrestha ’15

Yet, during the interview, Matt gave convincing reasons for me to believe in the Learning Center.

Once I was hired, I quickly became a convert. At Adelphi, the goal of tutoring, which I had wrongly imagined to be content delivery, is the exchange of study skills. Tutoring is all about the synergistic benefit that students gain from working together with their peers.

As tutors, we asked guiding questions and let students come to an answer on their own. If we did not know the answer ourselves, we worked together as a team to find the answer. Our priority was to help students find resources and help them develop the skills needed to succeed.

Most of my sessions ended up being discussions on ways to take better notes, how to connect the dots to see a bigger picture or simply how to manage time on a test. Some of my clients were the top students in their class. All had a passion to succeed, a zeal to learn and the perseverance to reach for their goal. They did not hesitate to ask for additional help when needed. I was moved.

Statistics bear out that I am not alone in seeing the Learning Center’s value. Demand for the center’s services rose 63 percent between 2012–2013 and 2013–2014. I had 129 appointments with 60 clients in 2013–2014—when I was named Tutor of the Year.

I enjoyed all of the sessions. The smiles of relief, the sense of growing confidence, the knowledge that a burden has been lifted are memories that I cherish. Among the hundreds of students I tutored, though, a few stand out.

One is Richard, a student in the Bridges to Adelphi program who was one of my regulars. Whenever I asked him a question, he searched for the answer in his text. Finally, one day, I gave him a problem that he couldn’t use his text to solve. He struggled at first and then realized that he could use his own knowledge and analytical skills to tackle the question and others that came his way.

Anustha Shrestha ’15  at the Learning CenterOver time, those 10 steps down to the Learning Center became my well-worn path. I found a home in the lower level of Earle Hall amid the buzz of ongoing sessions, screeching of chalk on the good old slate boards and greetings from our regulars who station themselves at the center’s computers. I felt at ease among periodic tables and world maps hanging on the walls and among the complex anatomical structures on the tables.

I made a home in the staff room where I spent hours talking about the statistics problem that no one could solve or engaged in a conversation about life and career. I came to the Learning Center to work on my homework, and, yes, I also crashed in our favorite couch a few times. By my senior year, the first question staff asked me when I was at
the Learning Center was “Are you on shift?” because everybody knew that I hung out in there even when I wasn’t working.

With the growing clientele and the expanding services, the Learning Center deserves a better facility and more elbow room. I am sure the staff and students will enjoy the new space in the Nexus Building and Welcome Center. Nevertheless, I will miss the fluorescent lights of the basement and the 10 steps to a place that changed my approach to learning—my little home at Adelphi.

This article was published in AU VU Magazine, Fall 2015 issue.

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