When a campus building makes students say, “This is so nice—can we just study in here for awhile?" you know you’ve done something right. And when just months ago that building was an old, ugly metal shed, you can’t help but think there’s been some sort of magic at work!
It began with the vision of Pacific Union College’s Student Persistence Program leaders, who wanted to see the centralization of academic support services on campus. The dream was brought to possibility by the gift of Rosemary and John Collins, assistant professor of communication and vice president for financial administration, respectively. And transformation came through the magic (also known as hard work) of several months spent resurfacing walls and floors and doing extensive interior decorating. Now the building, called the Teaching and Learning Center (or TLC), has a modern, industrial chic motif that makes “Awesome!” the most common word for students to utter when they first walk in.
The mission of the TLC, which provides such services as academic advising, mentoring, tutoring, freshman success seminars, and learning disabilities testing and accommodation, is “to see each PUC student able to persist toward his or her academic goal with confidence, and not to lose sight of the goal because of academic frustrations,” explains Jennifer Wareham Best, director of the TLC. “Our staff has a heart for students,” she adds, “and a student's success is the ultimate reward for the staff’s efforts.”
The heart for students is shown through candy bars, special "Monday Morning Muffins" handmade by the staff, and the student-friendly hours (10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on school days and 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays). And it’s paying off. Attendance has been excellent for over 20 group sessions in math, science and languages, meeting five nights a week. In just four weeks of operation, over 500 tutoring contacts have been provided in various college subjects.
One intermediate algebra student said, "Before I started going to the TLC, I was pulling a low C-, but in just a week of getting extra help, I have an A!" Another student remarked, "I'm making it in calculus now, thanks to the nightly tutoring sessions."
Of course, one of the challenges for the TLC staff, says Best, is “the stigma any place can acquire if students perceive it as being only for students at risk for academic failure.” Best and her staff want students to realize that the TLC is for everyone—for group tasks and discussions as well as for study tips, helpful advice, and general support to make college life more balanced.
With a classy bathroom, with a “Great Room” furnished with ultra-comfortable purple chairs and rolling tables, and with a writing lab that offers coaching to all, the TLC is full of promise for the PUC community of students.