Students don’t care…..Disenchanted Peer Tutor Job

My professors recommended me to be a peer tutor at my university.

It paid $8.00/hour, which is as good as my campus got for student jobs, and I worked it for about a year. I worked about 5-10 hours a week, in a little room in the back of the library.

Good points: whenever there was free time I got to chat with other tutors or do my homework– for that $8.00/hour.

Bad points: the students who I tutored. 75% of the tutees only came to us because their teachers had it required in the syllabus, or because they got extra credit for having their paper looked over–or maybe they were football players forced to be “academic” once a week.

As a Peer Tutor, my job was to work WITH the students, helping them to organize their papers clearly around a central point. That’s the most important thing, because clarity and having a point is what you need to get a good grade.

But usually students would come in with totally incoherent papers and ask, “Did I spell ‘weird’ right?” Umm… it doesn’t matter when your thesis (central point) of your paper was “Frankenstein’s monster scared people.” That’s not really an arguable point to make– anyone who reads “Frankenstein” will obviously get that. Yet students will spend 4 pages arguing the obvious. I say, “No, you totally need to rewrite that to make your paper interesting and argumentative,” and they get mad at me, as if I’m being unfair!!!

Usually the tutees never actually want to learn anything. That’s the most frustrating part of the job– I’m supposed to teach writing techniques to my fellow students. Instead, they would come in, flop down in a seat, and want me to proofread their paper while they talked on their cell phones! (Hello, ever heard of spell-check? Or having a friend looking it over?)

I guess I felt good about it when I could actually help someone to understand how to avoid run-on sentences or that they needed a thesis in their paper. It felt important. But most of the time, it was like, there are free resources on the web and on your computer. If you use spell-check or read your MLA handbook you can figure this stuff out. Why are you bothering me?

I left when I graudated (six weeks ago). I had a midterm-review with my supervisor a while ago, and she said I was doing a wonderful job. I said thanks, but I would never want to be a tutor in real life. She couldn’t understand why. But I imagine it’s a lot like my student tutoring job– trying to help people who don’t care!

I still haven’t found what I want to do. I’m unemployed for now. I guess in five years I hope to be doing something creative and sort of solitary. I’d like to change the world but I think I’ve learned that most of the time, the world doesn’t want to be changed. It feels LITTLE to sit around painting paintings. But a lot easier. We’ll see…

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