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Campus Life

Staying Well

Feeling overwhelmed by schoolwork can take a toll on your well-being. The Educational Resource Center can help.

Virginia Schaffer, assistant director of the ERC, encourages students to seek academic help through her office.

Any student who has fallen behind in class and has worried about making the grade understands how stress can affect overall health. Becoming bogged down by a demanding course load can start just weeks into the semester, but students can always find help at the Educational Resource Center.

Staff at the ERC try to relieve some of the stress by walking students through course material, breaking down difficult concepts, and helping them develop better study skills.

“We encourage students to take a proactive approach to their academic goals,” says Virginia Schaffer, assistant director of the ERC. “At the beginning of the semester, we can discuss a variety of topics, such as course-work load, past semester experiences, and study habits, with the goal of assisting students to develop an academic plan. Our recommendation is that students come to the ERC as early as possible so that we can help them identify their goals for the semester and thus discuss the programs and/or services that can help them achieve their goals throughout the semester.”

The ERC, which is open seven days a week, offers free peer tutoring to BU students in 200 different courses. Each year more than 3,000 students take advantage of the ERC, with more than 2,000 seeking tutoring alone. Approximately 125 peer tutors are working at the center this year.

“Students report to us that peer tutors are easy to talk to and are patient with them,” Schaffer says. “By working with peer tutors, students have found they gain a better understanding of the subject and feel more confident in their academic abilities.”

The ERC also runs a writing center, foreign language discussion groups, organic chemistry preparation courses, and a variety of workshops on topics such as study and writing skills, time management, and test-taking strategies.

And it’s never too late to stop in, says Schaffer, who urges students not to put off getting help until the night before an exam or a paper is due. “Unfortunately, when a student waits until the last minute to come to the ERC, it will be challenging to find him or her an available tutor or writing fellow with such short notice,” she says. “We will problem-solve with the student and hopefully find an alternative solution, such as drop-in tutoring programs that we offer for specific subjects and during finals.”

Schaffer also tells students not to be ashamed or shy about asking for help preparing for an exam or starting a research paper. “I think by talking to the ERC staff and learning more about what peer tutoring sessions are like, it helps students feel more at ease,” she says. “We really want students to come with their questions and let us know how we can help. Students have different learning styles, study habits, and academic experiences that impact their decision to seek assistance. Our goal is to communicate to students that we are here to listen and we want to help.”

For more information on the services offered by the ERC, located on the fourth floor of the George Sherman Union, call 617-353-7077.

Meghan Noé can be reached at mdorney@bu.edu.