By Katauna Loeuy
Whatcom Community College offers learning centers, one for writing and one for math, to students in need of academic assistance.
“I make sure that getting access to academic support is as seamless a possible and that the support is high quality,” said Jason Babcock, director of the Learning Center. “Our primary role is academic support on campus, and we do that in a bunch of different areas.”
The Learning Center includes the Writing Center and Math Center and offers drop-in help, in addition to scheduled appointments with tutors, one-on-one or online. The center is in Cascade 113, and hours can be found online on Whatcom’s website. One-on-one tutoring for specific classes, such as anatomy or physiology, is also available by request.
The Learning Center was established in 1990 to fill a need for tutoring in math and English. The program has evolved significantly since then.
“I started here in 2012 and I would say now we are a much more collaborative and active space,” Babcock said. “It’s like a community of folks that are working together.”
These resources are cost-free for students and typically the tutors have taken the same courses as the struggling individuals.
The Learning Center also offers students employment opportunities for tutoring, where they can learn how to support others and improve their own skills. As long as the potential tutor has taken either English 101 to become a writing tutor or Math 141 to become a math tutor, they can apply for a job. Some of these jobs qualify for work study.
“It’s really important to invite people to be tutors,” Babcock said. “Having people with a wide range of math abilities or math experience, a broad range in ages, ethnicities and genders, ensures that whenever people walk into one of these spaces that they feel comfortable here.”
Jackson Aumell, a Writing Center tutor, said that students who come to him sometimes have different needs.
“Most problems don’t need to be solved, but people who are dealing with problems just need someone sitting next to them,” he said.
Noah Cooper, one of the math tutors says the center, “taught [me] a lot of patience.”
“It’s built a really great community for me to be in while I’m at Whatcom,” he said.
“Being able to help students is really nice, it’s really good to have someone come in for help, then a week later having done really well on a test because of the math center.”
And while all of these resources are available to students with no cost, many students are not aware of these programs.
“Marketing is really hard, getting the message out to all of the students on the campus when they could use the support is really difficult,” Babcock said.
“There are too many students who don’t know that they have these supports available and students also wait until they’re in trouble before using tutoring,” he added.
While many students may be unaware of the Learning Center, it’s still a busy place.
By the spring of 2020, the Writing and Math Centers will relocate to the new Phyllis and Charles Self Learning Commons under construction on campus.
“This is a project that’s been in the works for 10 years and it just got funded about a year ago. It’s going to be awesome,” Babcock said.
The new building will consist of three floors and will include computer labs, spaces for video/audio/media, breakout study rooms, drop-in tutoring, the library, testing center and more.
“Sometimes finding us is difficult, so I think it’s going to build on that idea of community like a connection between students and support,” Babcock said.