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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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Texas A&M pitcher Evan Aschenbeck (53) reacts after throwing the final strike out during Texas A&M’s game against Mississippi State on Saturday, March 23, 2024, at Olsen Field. (Chris Swann/ The Battalion)
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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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Texas A&M infielder Rylen Wiggins (2) reacts during Texas A&M’s game against Texas at the Austin Super Regional at Red and Charline McCombs Field in Austin, Texas, on Sunday, May 26, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Professors and tutoring services vie for students’ attention

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In one corner sit the seasoned, professionally hired instructors who are exclusive to Texas A&M University. In the opposite corner sit College Station’s well-versed tutors. The winner’s prize? The attention and time of students.
The tension between the two groups is obvious, but why does it exist?
“A lot of [the professors] are decent, nice people. But there are a few that go out of the way to make things difficult. I’ve heard stories from students of teachers who say, you go to tutoring, and I will fail you,” said John Forsyth, or “Tutor John”.
Forsyth said that when he finds this to be the case, he advises his students to keep their extra help low key.
“I’ve been doing this [tutoring] for 15 to 20 years. After that time period, you get a good feel for what is in the class, what the teachers are going to do, that sort of thing,” he said. Forsyth explained that some methods students are taught in his sessions, are not to be written on the test because professors might count it wrong.
“In math, there are always multiple solutions, multiple ways to get the right answer. Some professors think, ‘It’s my way or it’s wrong.’ These are the people that let the power of teaching go to their heads. Some of the instructors don’t know the material very well,” he said. Forsyth noted that because some professors are in the dark due to unfamiliarity with the material, they deem an answer incorrect when student methods vary.
Junior biomedical sciences major Edward Vazquez said that his experiences with off-campus tutors have been enjoyable.
“It was very helpful, fast-paced and practically a lifesaver,” Vazquez said.
Statistics professor Julie Carroll earned her bachelor’s in mathematics and master’s in industrial engineering and statistics from Texas A&M.
Carroll explained that an open lab is available for the statistics sections. There, students can meet with graduate students to ask questions. With the number of accessible graduate students and times, more than 60 hours of assistance are available per week.
“Some people don’t like it,” Carroll said about the tutor-professor relationship. “I’m sure Tutor John has made lots of money off of me, but I can’t stop it. This is the second half of my 19th year teaching at A&M, so I have been at this awhile. Longer than Tutor John.”
With so much free professorial assistance so readily accessible, some professors display a level of frustration as students go to tutors for help.
“We are trying very hard to give them everything available. We have discussion boards, and we all answer our e-mails fairly quickly,” Carroll said. ” I tell my students that I don’t care if they want to go to tutoring. I just don’t think they need to go, and I don’t think they need to waste their money. I’m always in the market for new ways for people to understand what I’m teaching. No two people learn exactly the same way, so the more ways I can present something, the more people I can reach.”
Patrick Mango, senior mechanical engineering major and manager of 4.0 and Go, believes the reasons for hostility lie in the fact that professors think their material is being stolen and that students are only taught how to answer questions on exams.
“Honestly, for a lot of the classes, our tutors make up all their own question,” Mango said. “They have never seen one of the professor’s tests. They don’t know anything. The only thing they know is what students tell them. They don’t like us advertising for their classes but we try to compromise with all the buildings on campus. For all the classes we leave flyers in, we also have someone that goes and picks up all the flyers. So we clean the rooms ourselves.”
Mango also said many students seek assistance at 4.0 and Go after their first exam if they have done poorly.
“A lot of students come here for security reasons,” Mango said. Every day for two to three hours, you are guaranteed to get some sort of studying done.”
Michael Abelson, who has taught management courses at A&M for more than 30 years, expressed his availability and willingness to help.
“If students have any questions, they can ask in class, they can come to my office, they can e-mail me,” Abelson said. “I’m very responsive regarding any questions on the course material. I think seeking [outside] help is a good idea if the student feels they need it. But the notes are the same as the ones the students would get if they came to class or borrowed them from a friend.”
Abelson expressed his concern that students are being led to think that tutoring services offer insider-type information such as test questions that would give them an advantage when taking exams. Abelson said that for this reason, his tests are all under copyright protection.
“I don’t want the students to feel like they have to go to these tutoring services to get test questions,” Abelson said.
Abelson continued to explain that the material covered in class is often applicable to real world situations.
“When you get married, you and your spouse become an organization,” Abelson said. “When you have kids and you have a family, that’s an organization. Learning how to manage organizations you live or work in is what we talk about in class. It’s pertinent to any organization that you’re a part of during your life. Don’t cheat yourself by going to a tutoring service just to do better on the test. Learn it, that way it lasts for your entire lifetime.”
Sophomore nuclear engineering major Michael Marini said he is indifferent toward the tension.
“You’re paying six grand a semester for the professors that are leading you to your degree,” Marini said. “Mostly all it takes is some one-on-one time to figure something out. I don’t think where you get your help from should matter. The ways one learns best and whether it is from a tutor or a professor is subjective to each person.”

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