The Gift of the Academic Learning Centre – Business is Booming

By Darla Thiessen, ALC Coordinator

When asked to write an article with this title, I assumed it would take me in the direction of cheesy metaphors about how the ALC was a gift for students waiting to be unwrapped, and once opened, its incredible value would be revealed.  I imagined that such an article would talk of success stories and quote real students who said, “I laugh at how much I was afraid to use this service because I can’t believe how much this helped me,” “I’m so glad you stuck with me and gave the feedback you did!” and “I cannot express how thankful I am for the ALC service.”

The article I envisioned writing would of course highlight how the goal of the ALC is to help students improve their academic skills in order to be successful in their studies, and I’d list all the ways we do that.

I’d also share statistics, noting that at the time of writing, we’ve already seen as many students this fall as we did in the fall of 2019 (which previously held the highest number since the beginning of the ALC), and we still have two weeks left.

However, while considering how high our current numbers have been, as I began to note the things I thought I’d write, I realized that maybe business is booming because everyone already knows all this. And so, perhaps, it would be more interesting to write how the ALC is a gift to me.

After several years of classroom teaching in a high school and teaching adult ESL in a post-secondary setting, I came to Booth UC for the fall of 2018. This position gifted me with the flexibility of hours I desired to keep my family a priority rather than being consumed by the prep work and marking that so often steals the evening and weekend hours of a teacher. I am blessed to be able to work in an environment that permits me freedom not only to speak of my Christian faith, but opportunities to learn and grow in my knowledge while assisting students in their religion courses. I have been introduced to fascinating studies and topics across the spectrum of course offerings, widened the range of books on my reading list, deepened my appreciation and respect for higher learning, and challenged how my values are applied to everyday situations.

While I do often miss the classroom setting and having a group of students to call my own, I recognize the daily opportunities I have to teach. While I, perhaps strangely, enjoy picking apart student essay drafts to make suggestions for improvement, my favourite appointments usually involve getting to help break down assignment tasks and guide students to outline their ideas. I love teaching students how to organize and develop their arguments to the point at which they declare that I have made it seem too easy. I also consider the team of tutors to be my students, and I share in their joy and challenges as they grow in their abilities to help their peers.

This January, the ALC will make a physical move from the basement to the main floor of the Waldron Building. Windows to the outside world will be yet another gift! I imagine the increased visibility and accessibility of our support will further increase our numbers. And the cheesy metaphoric gift of the ALC will continue to be offered to any student who chooses to unwrap it.


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