Academic Support to Greatly Expand in Spring, 2015 Semester

CHULA VISTA – An unprecedented expansion of student tutoring services at Southwestern College is set to launch in January, thanks to $400,000 in funding from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. 

The grant will fund 40-50 tutors to work with professors to target struggling students in 40 Basic Skills classes, more than doubling the number of courses at Southwestern College that will have what administrators call `embedded tutors.’

Southwestern College also is investing $10,500 annually in another new effort using, an online platform where tutors work with students in real time. This free-to-students service teams students with tutors to review essay submissions and to answer questions in courses ranging from accounting to web development. The initiative, which began with a soft launch in December, is set to go into full effect when the spring semester begins January 21, said Andrew Rempt, Southwestern College’s Learning Assistance Services Coordinator.

eTutoring is used across North America in more than 130 two- and four-year public and private colleges and universities.

“Online tutoring is just something that has been long overdue, and the technology has gotten to the point where it is easy to use and the cost is remarkably reasonable,” Rempt said.

Southwestern College has long offered tutoring services, but its efforts have been limited because of funding. Services include those who work with professors and lecturers through an embedded tutoring program that is also known as Power Study. Additionally students can drop in or make an appointment at the Academic Success Center on the Chula Vista campus and other locations across the college district’s four campuses.

“The Southwestern College Academic Success Center Program exists to assist all members of the campus community in achieving their academic goals,” reads the Success Center’s vision statement. “Our programs are cooperatively designed in response to diverse student and community needs. We use a variety of instructional approaches appropriate for different skill levels and learning styles.”

The bolstered efforts will have a profound impact on the lives of countless students, Rempt said.

“Tutoring has proven to be the most successful of interventions to help students succeed, and we are all about student success at Southwestern College,” he said.

Money to hire the 40-50 tutors for Basic Skills courses came from the Chancellor’s Office `Student Equity Funds’ to address the large numbers of students who are not succeeding in such classes.

Much is at stake. Basic skills courses, also known as remedial classes, are aimed at students who have not reached college-ready status in subjects such as math and English. Students often become discouraged if they have to take too many remedial classes before qualifying for college-level coursework. The California Community Colleges system has put added emphasis over the years on beefing up its basic skills services, and the $400,000 for the added tutors is part of a larger $930,000 grant that is also paying for basic skills boot camps, data analysis, surveys and more at Southwestern College.

Shawna Williams, a former Southwestern College student who has tutored at the campus for several years, said she has seen the transformative power that tutoring can have.

“It is so rewarding,” Williams said of her experience. “I’ve seen the confidence in those I’ve tutored grow, and I’ve seen them become more determined to succeed.”

Williams, who is a coordinator for the Power Study Program, termed tutoring “supplemental instruction that can help students stay in school.”

All tutoring services are free to Southwestern College students.

Said Rempt: “We’re excited for the opportunity to be able to serve students in the classroom so directly.”