In college, classes can be extremely challenging. I’ll be the first to admit that I rarely have a complete grasp on concepts after the first time I learn them — I need to be exposed to them several times and have plenty of opportunities to ask questions before I fully get something. Thankfully, one resource that I’ve been able to take advantage of at USC has been Supplemental Instruction (SI), which gives me a chance to solidify my understanding of material.
SI is a program offered by many universities across the country in which undergraduate students who took specific courses are hired to act as SI Leaders for one of those courses. SI Leaders are expected to attend lecture for their course, and then prepare review sheets and other materials at the end of each week of lecture. Then, they have several review sessions in which they go over these sheets, answer questions, or offer other advice. They also lead super helpful midterm and final exam reviews, which have been an integral part of my studying process!
This semester, I was actually given the opportunity to become an SI Leader for a Calculus 3 class! I was extremely excited to apply for the position, and overjoyed to have been selected after the application and interview process.
Being an SI Leader has been a huge time commitment, but it’s one that I’ve truly enjoyed. Each week, I spend several hours carefully crafting my weekly review sheets. I want to make sure they’re as valuable as possible, which means I’m often communicating with the class’s professor, reading the textbook, and going over the homework the students are assigned in order to ensure that I have an even deeper understanding of the material and the types of questions that the students might be asked on a quiz or an exam. I also have to think over several different ways to explain the answers to various questions, since not everyone learns in the same way, and an explanation which might make sense to one student might not make sense to another.
Though at times it can be a lot of work, it’s always rewarding. My sessions have become some of my favorite parts of the week. I love being able to help people with their academic endeavors, and it’s gratifying knowing that my efforts are making it possible for others to succeed. Also, I’ve been able to act as a mentor in some respects. Since many of the students who attend my sessions are freshmen, I’ve often shared advice on time management and balancing Calculus 3, a rigorous math class, with their other commitments. I’ve even been able to give advice to freshmen who are preparing to interview with various companies! Thus, I feel that through SI I’ve been able to have an impact on students which extends beyond the classroom.
Next week, I’ll be leading my first midterm review. I’m excited (and a little bit nervous) for it since it’ll be one of the biggest sessions I’ve led to date! I’m looking forward to the rest of the semester, and hopefully future semesters as an SI Leader. I’ll be sure to keep posting updates about my year, don’t forget to keep checking back and fight on!