“The most common fear students have when they start at Calbright is that they think: ‘it’s an online college, so they’re just going to throw me into the internet and I’ll be all by myself,’” says Alejandro Clark, a Calbright Academic Tutor. “So they’re really surprised when they realize: it’s online, but it’s actually much more like a one-on-one teaching environment, which they’ve always wanted. You’re not doing it alone.”
Whenever his students need him, Alejandro is there. He’ll talk with them on weekends. He’ll talk with them up to 10 at night on weeknights. “It all revolves around the student’s calendar,” he says. “A lot of students want to reach out right after dinner. A lot of students like to reach out first thing in the mornings. Whatever it is, I try to be as available as possible. Our whole team does.”
He talks to some students almost every day. He has weekly appointments with some students. Some students prefer to work by themselves and just reach out when they need something — but however they want to do it, Calbright’s team is there.
“A lot of our students are working one or more jobs, so they can’t take classes during business hours,” Alejandro says. “Many Calbright students are caring for their children or their parents, so they have to work around those schedules. Whatever our students have to do in their lives, that’s okay: we work on their schedules.”
Sometimes students need someone to talk about a technical problem; sometimes they need someone to go over their assignments with them. Sometimes they just need someone to be there while they work.
“Students can struggle when they are doing things alone, “Alejandro says. They’re more easily distracted, it’s harder for them to pay attention. But when I’m there with them and we’re doing something together, they’re so meticulous! They learn better with somebody there, so I’m there.”
Alejandro had been working with students for eight years prior to coming to Calbright. That experience, he said, is crucial to being able to be there for students in the way they need.
“Our first meeting really sets the bar,” he says. “That’s when the student first decides: can this guy be helpful to me? Can he meet me where I’m at? It’s not about what they can do for me, or if they are living up to a standard, it’s about my being able to be helpful to them, right from the start.”
In Alejandro’s experience, students struggle the most right at the beginning of their studies, when all the Calbright systems they’re using are new.
“At the beginning, they have a lot of systems that they’ve never seen before, like our online portal or Slack. Some students are really advanced and just knocking these things down and getting through it, but I also have students who are completely new to this kind of technology,” he explained. “It’s my job to show them around, to be there and talk them through everything, and once the students start to understand our model and the systems we use, it gets a lot easier and even becomes a comfortable environment for them.”
There’s often a moment where students first realize “I can do this!” and it’s a beautiful thing to see.
“We love getting to know our students,” Alejandro says. “They’ll tell me about their lives, the job interviews they’re lining up, and everything seems a lot easier when you have a supportive environment with a human element. That human element, the way we make online college personal, is really unique and important.”
The academic tutoring team is here to help Calbright students succeed. If you’re a Calbright student and would like to work with Alejandro or any of the other tutors at Calbright, please email: [email protected] and a member of our team will reach out to you.