During this time of the pandemic when we are all hyper-focused on physical health, why not take a moment to reflect on individual academic health? After all, no matter our age or walk of life, we all fit neatly into one of three categories: used to be a student, currently a student or planning on being a student. And, even if you graduated from an educational institution long ago, chances are you have a student somewhere within your sphere of influence. And chances are that student is learning completely or at least partially online right now as we cope with these unprecedented circumstances.

Online learning, for most students, is harder than in-person, no other way to state it. Across the board, instructors have certainly done an amazing job of adapting their teaching to the virtual format. Yet, the inspiration provided by the camaraderie of a classroom full of lively students is lacking. The mixing of the home environment with the learning environment inevitably creates many more distractions for students.

The burden of learning suddenly rests much more heavily on the student’s own drive and discipline. Many are struggling, but having worked closely with the Tutoring Center staff at Bakersfield College to consolidate their services from three physical sites into one streamlined Zoom platform, I believe without a doubt that a healthy dose of tutoring can do wonders to infuse new zeal into an online learner’s lagging motivation.

BC’s tutoring program is vibrant, boasting nearly 100 thoroughly trained tutors to serve all BC students, even while running virtually. The tutors are all students themselves, so a student reaching out for help need not feel intimidated as might happen during a professor’s Zoom office hours. The staff is extremely involved in the entire appointment-making process and will carefully match a student with the best tutor. Drop-in and recurring appointments are available. Staff, several faculty and tutors are in the Zoom lobby over 40 hours a week, ready to greet potential tutees warmly and direct them to a breakout room with their tutor.

To get started, all a student needs to do is visit the BC Tutoring Center’s webpage at bakersfieldcollege.edu/student/tutoring. It is the closest an online student can get to the joy of in-person interaction!

Circling back to the concept of tutors enriching academic health, consider your own circumstances. If you are a student or work with a student, have you connected with your school’s tutoring resources to help mitigate the rigors of being online? Don’t adhere to the myth that tutoring is only for lower-performing students. Quite the opposite! Tutoring is for everyone who wants to sustain healthy academic performance. There is no shame in seeking help, but rather it represents true courage. And, in this period of challenge, it is more critical than ever that if a student is to excel at online learning, a regular dose of weekly tutoring might be just what the educator ordered.

Give it a try, and you might just find it’s not such a bitter pill to swallow!

Eileen Pierce works as the program manager for Academic Support at Bakersfield College.

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