Reacting to The Sy Syms Peer Tutoring Program Changes
Now that finals season has taken us by storm before we could see it coming, per strict YU tradition, it is time to consider every advantage we students can use to push our grades over the top. One such advantage is the Sy Syms Peer Tutoring Program, which I know well as the student Peer Tutoring Coordinator. Though this program is simply tremendous, it has fallen victim to two of the more common words around YU these days: budget cuts. Over the summer, the administration changed the program’s structure and rules. This uncertainty led to a noticeable decrease in returning student tutors. An additional change is that last year’s free weekly review sessions, which were open to an unlimited amount of participants, have not as of yet been reinstituted. The net result is that while a great number of students still seek to benefit from the program, fewer students are able to attain a session with a tutor. In order to make sure that you can aptly navigate the program’s changes, successfully secure a tutoring session, and best understand this terrific program in general, there are five key questions you need to know the answer to.
1) What exactly is the Sy Syms Peer Tutoring Program?
The Peer Tutoring Program pairs student tutors who have previously excelled at a particular course with students currently enrolled in the course who are seeking additional support doing homework, preparing for a test, or just keeping up with the class. In a true definition of a win-win, Sy Syms pays the tutors and the tutoring sessions are free for the students.
2) This program sounds fantastic; how do I sign up for a session with a peer tutor?
Gone are the days when a student could schedule a tutoring session by just emailing or texting the tutor. It is still, however, very easy to sign up for a tutor. Simply go to the yu.edu Academic Advising Wilf campus homepage and click on the bottom right link, as you would to sign up for an appointment with an academic advisor. Once you log in, select the “Peer Tutoring- Sy Syms” drop down tab from the top-center of the page and use the course filters to find a tutoring session which best fits your schedule.
3) What courses can I get a peer tutor in on the Wilf campus?
The Sy Syms Peer Tutoring Program currently offers eleven courses on the Wilf campus: Accounting Principles I and II, Principles of Finance, Management Accounting, Business Algebra, Statistics for Business, Quantitative Methods Management, Intro to Information Systems, Corporate Finance, Portfolio Management, and non-CPA Business Law. This number, however, is highly deceptive. While the Accounting and Finance Principles courses offer eight and five tutors respectively, the other eight courses only offer either one or two tutors. Considering that students can also schedule those one or two tutor’s available timeslots for the popular principles courses they tutor as well, this makes it nearly impossible to secure a tutor’s time-slot for those eight courses.
4) How far in advance should I sign up for my tutoring session?
This is where it starts to get tricky. As was before mentioned, there are less total Wilf tutors this semester than last year (a 30% reduction to be exact) and the weekly review courses have not yet been reinstituted. Due to this overall reduction in available tutoring, you must take care when signing up to make sure it is far enough in advance to get an appointment. To find out exactly how far in advance is necessary, I polled four students who are heavily involved in the program: Shlomo Frishman, Jonathan Kaplan, Eli Lonner and Elisha Rosenwasser. Rosenwasser uses peer tutoring to get support for exams and coursework, while Frishman, Kaplan and Lonner are popular tutors. The consensus among the panel was that in order to make sure that you can get a session at a time fitting your schedule, it is a must to book your appointment a week in advance. It is best to do so as far as two weeks in advance, if possible. For his part, Kaplan sympathizes that he “knows that it can be difficult to plan that far out, but that's typically how things pan out.”
5) What is the best way for me to utilize the program?
Rosenwasser has found that “the Sy Syms Peer Tutoring Program has changed the way I prepare for exams.” Lonner, however, cautions students not to wait until right before an exam to book a tutor. Since many courses introduce a new way of thinking, he has found that “one or two sessions with a peer tutor at the beginning of the semester can ensure success throughout the duration of the course.” An additional byproduct of the program, as Kaplan discovered, is that the students and tutors “get to meet guys from all years and have the chance to engage lots of different personalities.”
BONUS QUESTION) Why do the awesome peer tutors give their time to the program?
Frishman wants to “pay it back.” He recalls that “The reason I was able to succeed in my courses was because of the individualized attention I received from my professors and the Office of Academic Support. I thought the best way to acknowledge the help I received was by helping those who struggle with the same material I struggled with.” For Lonner, there is nothing better than seeing that “a student who I worked with for several sessions is doing well in the class.” Not to worry, the peer tutors aren’t all crazy. Kaplan readily adds that “a few extra bucks in my pocket can't hurt.”
Author’s Note: The Sy Syms Peer Tutoring Program administrators and myself are working on a way to reinstitute the popular weekly review courses and are hoping to have this fundamental service restored for the Spring semester.