For students who struggle to focus on their online classes, studying can be just as much of a hassle.
But now that the Center of Academic Success (CAS) has re-opened to provide those students with a return to face-to-face tutoring and will operate from Monday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Monique Galofaro, 55, who has been on and off campus for nine years, said that she’s had trouble in the past with online services.
“I’m at an age where the technology is a little bit more difficult,” Galofaro said. “Personally, I prefer in-person tutoring, and I don’t have to deal with doing the homework on the computer and with doing additional work just to reach a tutor.”
CAS Physics Tutor and Pierce student Jesus Gonzalez said that having interactions in person is a different experience than helping out online.
“It’s very exciting to see students and see their faces when they understand something or are confused,” Gonzalez said.
At the CAS, there are only a few available for in-person tutoring, according to CAS Director Crystal Kiekel.
“It’s a very limited number of tutors,” Kiekel said. “We only have seven tutors at the Center.”
There’s only in-person tutoring for five subjects—physics, English, anatomy, astrology and philosophy—of the 40 subjects they cover.
Students are only able to get help with some of the subjects, according to Office Manager Marcos Garcia.
Kiekel said that since the pandemic, CAS, like most services, had to adapt and move everything online.
For now, students can schedule an one-to-one in-person appointment. Group tutoring and the writing lab are unavailable in-person, yet the space at the Center is available for students to use.
“Students can come in and get face to face tutoring,” Kiekel said. “But they can also just come in, use the space and take online classes right now because it’s totally quiet.”
According to Kiekel, prior to the pandemic 90 percent of CAS tutoring was in-person and 10 percent was through online services. Kiekel said that the services did not meet student needs.
Now that has changed, 90 percent of tutoring is provided online, while 10 percent of tutoring is in-person.
Kiekel said that since the CAS revamped most of its services online, they have made it easier for students to access tutoring.
With all these changes being done, it can be said that it has reduced equity gaps for Pierce students who utilize CAS online services.
“I think it’s more accessible to be on Zoom and so I do Zoom and in-person at the same time. I do get more students on Zoom,” said Gonzalez.
However, there’s an issue when it comes to students not knowing about these provided services. “In this COVID world, it’s really hard to let students know that we’re here,” Kiekel said.
And to combat that inequity, most of the in-person services provided for students on campus are teaching them about how to access online tutoring services.
“A lot of what we do on our face to face services is helping students get online,” said Kiekel, who added that students use the Center to access an online tutor.
The CAS has 140 tutors and 20 part-time faculty staff who help carry day-to-day operations, mostly outside the Center. There are difficulties that CAS is facing, such as the lack of tutors for STEM and tutors for higher division classes. And there are policies that prevent qualified applicants from becoming tutors, according to Kiekel.
“The district really limits who we can hire and for how long and for what rate,” Kiekel said.
LACCD doesn’t allow tutors to work unless they take 12 units or have completed more than 10 semesters at Pierce. Kiekel said that the District undercuts Pierce tutors by giving those who have transferred or come from a university a higher wage.
“The district tells us once a student transfers to a university, their pay scale is raised by $4,” Kiekel said. “We have all these amazing tutors and they can’t get a raise and I have to pay them at the lower rate just because they haven’t transferred to a university.”
More information about the CAS can be found on their website: The Center for Academic Success (piercecollege.edu)