Interview with Peer Learning Assistant

Interview with Peer Learning Assistant

As an undergraduate student, I had the opportunity to work as a Peer Learning Assistant—otherwise known as a campus tutor. Another PLA and friend of mine, Melinda*, agreed to talk about the position and what it takes to be a good PLA.

How did you become a Peer Learning Assistant?

I saw a flyer on campus about it and knew it was the job for me. I wasn’t an education major, but I’m a smart person who enjoys helping people. I thought it would be a lot like volunteering but still getting paid.

Describe how the job worked.

I basically just hung out in the learning centers waiting for people to come get help. Most nights were very boring. I didn’t get many students. When I did, I helped them if I could in the subjects I knew, or I gave them the phone number of a person who could help them, like you.

What was the hardest part of the job?

It wasn’t hard at all. The long shifts waiting for someone to show up were boring, but you could always bring homework to do. I never had a hard student. Most of the people who came in were really respectful and after real help.

What did you learn from being a tutor?

I learned a lot about different learning styles in my training. I learned that a lot of college kids have learning disabilities but they still can find ways to attend by getting readers, tutors, and other forms of help.

What was the most memorable experience you had as a tutor?

A student who wanted help researching for a paper. That wasn’t really my job, but I was bored anyway so I agreed to help. It turned out to be a wild goose hunt because we couldn’t find anything on this ancient Greek mathematician. We ended up picking a different topic. He felt like he wasted a lot of time, but sometimes you just have to go in a different direction.

Did tutoring make you want to be a teacher?

No. It was fun, and a great job, but I always wanted to work in radio. I love my job.

What advice would you give to other people who want to become tutors?

Pick subjects that you know well and that you are good at. Be patient and go to all of your training sessions. And bring extra work to do just in case!



*Names have been changed to provide anonymity.