Academic Success Center surges amid pandemic

Park University’s Academic Success Center was used by students significantly more in the fall semester as many courses transitioned to online or blended formats.

Statistics provided by Dana Frasca, senior director of network academic success, showed the ASC held more than 2,400 virtual tutor and mentor appointments, which has it on track to increase its total appointments by 20 percent compared to last year. The ASC also had students use their tutor and mentorship services from 39 campus locations in the fall semester.

“The Academic Success Center has worked really hard to make sure that we maintain the same level of service to our students,” said Florenda Jarrard, assistant director of the Academic Success Center.

The ASC is located on the second floor of Norrington Center, providing help to students at all Park University locations with services such as tutoring, mentoring, study groups, disability services and the testing center.

After in-person tutoring and mentoring was shut down due to the pandemic, Jarrard said all appointments are now virtual.

Students can access ASC services through Canvas. Every student is automatically enrolled in a course titled Park Tutoring and Success Services: Support during the COVID-19 response efforts. In this course, students can chat and set up appointments with tutors and mentors through the OnceHub tutoring system. Students can also submit papers to ASC’s online writing submission lab, where they will receive feedback from a professional writing tutor.

Norrington is still open for general study, but all tutoring and mentoring appointments are now virtual through Zoom. As the statistics have shown, many students have taken advantage of it.

“The students have used it frequently and seem very open to it,” said Jarrard. “I think transitioning to the virtual world has been very successful for our department.”

Projwal Pathak, who graduated from Park in May 2020 with a master’s degree, joined the ASC as a tutor and mentor in the fall. He believes that the only disadvantage of online-only tutoring is that it can still be a struggle for students who learn better with in-person tutoring. He thinks that people are using these resources more because of the ability to access help from the comfort of their own home, usually anytime between 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. during the week.

“Of the people that I have helped, they actually feel that this has been helpful,” said Pathak. “The only difference is that you’re over the internet.”

The ASC has no plans to return to in-person tutoring anytime soon, but Pathak has been encouraged from his experience since joining the ASC in October 2020.

“I feel like it has been better than what I had anticipated,” said Pathak. “We’re really being able to help students who are needing help in different subject areas.”