Paul White loves his job. As director of Lakeland's Hayssen Academic Resource Center, he beams with pride whenever a once-bewildered freshman overcomes shaky beginnings and blossoms into a confident, successful graduate.
Some of the many services Lakeland's Hayssen Academic Resource Center provides:
- Free, unlimited tutoring to all of Lakeland's students by a staff of more than 40 paid "peer tutors" at three locations on campus
- Workshops that help students prepare for final exams, organize their time and develop a strategies for success
- An early warning list, which faculty members are urged to help populate with the names of struggling students, so that academic advisors, coaches and tutors are aware of who needs help
- Help for the 80 currently enrolled students with disabilities. "We provide reasonable and appropriate accommodations for those students," says White.
- A walk-in system, based on pre-scheduled tutoring times for specific subjects
"I have the best job on campus, bar none," White says. "It's a real treat for me to attend graduation each year and watch students, filled with justifiable pride, take part in commencement. They're very grateful and often say 'Thank you.' That's worth more than any paycheck."
The Hayssen Academic Resource Center, known on campus as the "Arc," is a well-staffed tutoring lab that's free of charge and available for unlimited use to all of Lakeland's students. So far this semester, White says there have been more than 550 interactions between students and the 44 tutors – who offer help for every subject taught at Lakeland.
Particularly satisfying to White is that of those 44 "peer tutors," 13 once came to the center for help themselves as young students.
"Some of our tutors came to us as freshmen who didn't know which end was up," White says. "They said, 'Help me,' and we did. Now they're helping others."
One of the many tools used by White's office is the "Early Warning List," which instructors populate with names of students who are in danger of failing classes. White then shares this information with coaches and academic advisors.
"We work collaboratively to stop small issues from becoming big mountains and deep holes," White says.
Sometimes, unfortunately, the mountain becomes too steep. White says that "for between 12 and 15 percent of the students, their needs exceed our ability to help. Then our goal becomes finding a path of alternate success for those students."
But the great news is, Lakeland's "Arc" usually becomes a doorway to success for those who use it. White reports that the average grade point average of students who regularly visit is "just under 3.0."
Lakeland's tutors work an average of about six hours a week for 14 weeks, and it costs Lakeland College about $700 per tutor, per semester.
"It's certainly not cheap," White says. "But it's important. And we know it works."