Frequently Asked Questions About Tutoring

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Why attend tutoring?

Participating in tutoring helps new students make an easier transition to the way courses are taught at the University, which is different from the demands of high school. Tutors are students who have excelled in the course(s) they are tutoring, so they provide mentoring and advice, in addition to helping gain a better understanding of the course content. Tutoring benefits students by providing academic assistance in small groups or even individually, but it also requires students to take a more proactive role in mastering the material, thus they can improve their own learning skills.

Who attends tutoring at OMSA East?

Eligible students are those who are in the Educational Opportunities Program, President's Award Program, and LAS Access and Achievement Program. Other UI undergraduates are also served, subject to available funding and approval by OMSA's Director or the Academic Services Coordinator.

All freshmen are expected to request a tutor for at least one course, because being tutored helps a student adjust more easily to the academic rigors of the University. A large number of introductory and intermediate (100- and 200-level) courses are tutored, and many upperclassmen also take advantage of the service. Students are urged to request a tutor before they attend their first class, and many view this action as an "insurance policy" for attaining the academic standards they set for themselves. As one student stated, "You don't get car insurance after the accident; you get it when you buy the car!" The same philosophy applies to asking for a tutor early in the semester. A student should not request a tutor after a poor grade. They should sign up before they attend the class, so they can help avoid that poor grade. OMSA's tutoring is not remedial; it is designed to help good students stay on top of their studies.

What happens in a typical tutoring session?

Tutoring is a proactive activity, designed to facilitate the transition from high school to college. The tutor's main responsibility is to prompt the students to utilize their critical thinking skills. And the most constructive tutoring sessions are the ones in which the students come prepared, having read the week's reading assignment, listened to the lecture and reviewed their notes. Tutoring is not a passive process. It requires that the students be fully engaged and ready to take an active role in their education.

In the typical tutoring session, the tutor will ask if the students have questions about the week's material. Each student sets the agenda for the tutoring session and is expected to present any questions or concerns about the material. The tutor then helps to clarify any concepts, ideas or information the students may not understand.

Do I need an appointment?

Any registered undergraduate at Illinois who is listed in OMSA's database may utilize the office's math, chemistry and physics walkin sessions without an appointment. Math walkin hours are from 1-8 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 1-5 p.m. on Friday. The walkin hours available for chemistry and physics vary each semester. For a listing of the hours available in these two subjects, please stop by OMSA East, at 701 S. Gregory Ave., Suite I, in Urbana, or call (217) 333-7547. In order to be matched for an hour-long appointment each week in math, chemistry, physics or any other tutored course, a student must make an appointment through the TUTORTRAC™ system.

NOTE: Tutoring and study skills workshops are not offered during the summer, on holidays, or when classes are not in session.

How often should I meet with my tutor, and what happens if I can't be there?

Students are expected to meet with their "matched" tutor at least once a week throughout the semester, as specified on their matched-appointment email. Occasional additional meetings may be arranged, as agreed upon by both students and tutors. If additional meetings go beyond that, they must be approved by the OMSA East staff.

If something important comes up, please call and let us know. When a student has been absent from scheduled tutoring three times during the semester, the tutor is expected to drop the student from the schedule. We always have a list of students waiting for a tutor. The sooner we drop a student who is not using the service, the sooner we can assign a tutor to someone on the waiting list. In order to be reinstated, the student must request such reinstatement from Academic Services staff.

What if I need help on a weekend?

The office is not open on the weekends, but occasional help is available, as agreed upon by tutors and students and with prior approval of the OMSA East staff.

How are tutors selected?

Tutors are Illinois graduate students or undergraduates in at least their third semester at the University. To be hired as a tutor, a student must complete an application and Schedule of Availability. Each tutor must supply the names of two references, preferably UI teaching staff. Tutors are trained by the coordinator of Academic Support Services and the tutor coordinators, and they are expected to have excellent attendance at training sessions. Undergraduate tutors must have taken the course at Illinois and earned a grade of "A" or "B." Tutors are expected to have good social and communicative skills, in addition to a good understanding of the material to be tutored.

For more information, please contact OMSA East at (217) 333-7547 or