CLAS unites academic services on campus, aims to better serve students

If you were looking for help with your schoolwork last semester, you had to navigate a maze of services. To ask for help in a specific course, you had to stop by Donahue. But if it were a math class, you got sent over to Fenton. If you wanted someone to talk about a research paper with you too, add a walk to the library into your plans. And if English isn’t your first language, up the stairs to yet another office.

This year, Suffolk has established the Center for Learning & Academic Success (CLAS) to cut out the wandering around Beacon Hill and confusion over where to find which academic services.

CLAS, a division of the new Student Success office under the provost, is a unification of all the academic support services on campus. Formerly, Ballotti Learning Center, Math Support Center, Second Language Services, and the Writing Center each specialized in only certain areas and were all in separate buildings.

Now, all the services have combined to make CLAS, located on the third floor of the library (where the Writing Center was housed.)

“The services provided now are not much different than before but now I don’t have to run from building to building,” Writing Center and Ballotti Learning Center tutor Kayla Cash said.

Photo courtesy of Suffolk University

By combining the four support offices into one entity, Suffolk hopes to better help students. Cash thinks the change will be positive for students seeking help.

“It’s generally less confusing now,” Cash said, “It’s easier to direct students to the appropriate service because we’re all in the same place.”

The need to combine office was driven by more than just location issues, though.

“We found that we shared a lot of students. There were lots of times we needed to talk with each other and cross-reference ideas,” Linda Foley-Vinay, director of CLAS, said of the need for the support offices to be more closely related.

CLAS offers many different ways to support students with their courses. Peer tutoring and professional tutoring provide students with one-on-one help for 50-minute blocks by appointment. Students can also schedule appointments with academic coaches, who are professional staff members that aid students in goal setting, time management, and study skills.

Drop-in math and statistics sessions act as a college level study hall where peer and professional tutors aid students with daily homework and questions about course lectures. Similarly, certain courses in other disciplines offer study groups that allow students to work out problems and concerns together. English and writing support helps students develop their writing style, adhere to the guidelines of their assignments, and offers English classes and workshops to non-native English speakers.

CLAS also holds weekly academic skills workshops that highlight key topics like study skill techniques, how to talk to professors, and navigating Excel.

“A lot of people think that the services are only for people that are struggling, but they’re for everyone,” Cash said. While some students may think using services shows a sign of weakness, Cash believes it shows ambition and pro-activeness.

Director Foley-Vinay reiterated this view and also urged all students to visit the new CLAS office.

“All the services are free but really they are included in tuition,” Foley-Vinay said, “So if students don’t use the services, they’re losing out on something they paid for.”

CLAS is open Monday to Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. To make an appointment, students can stop by CLAS or call (617) 573-8235. Later in the year CLAS is hoping to allow students to make appointments, online as well.

You can follow CLAS on twitter, too. @SuffolkCLAS