Your Lifeline to Success: TMCC's Learning Commons

The library services desk at the Learning Commons.
Rebecca A. Eckland

Whether you’re new to TMCC or returning from a previous semester, here’s the golden rule of a college education: you can’t make it without a library. Granted, things have changed since the days when students used the library card catalog to find the book they wanted, hidden in the stacks. These days, spaces like the TMCC Learning Commons—which offer online databases, tutoring resources and LibGuides—have replaced that old model of the dimly-lit stacks.  What hasn’t changed, though: this is the space where you can access resources that can help you succeed in one (or, probably all) of your classes. 

TMCC has been hard at work creating ways for you to access everything at the Learning Commons, comfy furniture aside. So, buckle up and learn how this indispensable resource will not only save your grade but perhaps also save your sanity as we navigate the semester…online. 

Read through the following common scenarios we hear from students, and learn how you can avoid any unnecessary pain and suffering by using one of the many resources the Learning Commons has to offer. 

Learning the Rescue

Scenario 1: I struggle with math and it’s so hard to study on my own and to stay motivated! How can I keep from failing this semester? 

The Tutoring and Learning Center, which is a part of the Learning Commons, can definitely help you! Our tutors can help you stay afloat in every class from Math 96 to Math 330. The added bonus? (No pun intended): TMCC Tutors are in the “know” when it comes to not only helping you master your subject, but with all the support services that TMCC has to offer.  

“We are continuing to offer our full services completely online in the fall,” said Keegan Phillips, Tutoring Coordinator. “These services include one-on-one appointment tutoring and the group review sessions—especially for classes like biology or certain math classes students struggle with. We’ll also provide some embedded tutoring upon faculty request. However, the most popular service are our one-on-one appointments.” 

In case you didn’t know, tutoring is 100% free for TMCC students. “You just have to be enrolled in the class for which you’re getting tutored,” said Phillips.  Tutoring services are typically used for science, math, and any class that has a writing component. There are also tutoring options for other classes like computer science, anthropology, and some foreign languages (Spanish, French, and American Sign Language.) 

The main point: if you need help with a class, chances are, the TLC can assist you whether it’s through a one-on-one appointment or by finding a tutor to lead a Group Review session for your course.  Another perk? Tutoring gives you social interaction as you study. You don’t have to struggle alone: a tutor can be your bridge to success, and provide some needed connection during these disconnected times.

“In this remote situation, it can be really isolating and can be a lot harder to persist through your classes and to hold yourself accountable. I think even those of us who are working from home are finding that it can be challenging to stay motivated and stick to our routines. Your tutor isn’t just someone to help you to understand that content, but they are someone to help build that social connection with. Someone you can visit regularly every week, and they’ll help you keep your eyes on your goals and hold you accountable. They are someone you can talk to who can relate to your experiences taking online courses,” said Phillips. Since most tutors are also TMCC students, tutors can refer students to the resources they need to be successful. 

“Tutors are a source of support and empathy,” said Phillips.

Scenario 2: Writing papers is really, really difficult now that I’m stuck at home. How can I find the information and motivation I need to get these writing assignments done?

Did you know that TMCC has five dedicated librarians who can help you one-on-one? The first step: go to the TMCC LibGuides page where you can learn about our awesome library staff by clicking on the blue “i” next to each research librarian’s name. This will tell you more about the subjects that are their interests and specialties, so you can get the most targeted support possible. You can also schedule your one-on-one virtual appointment with them from this webpage using the easy-peasy calendar and time options. 

“If a student is in an anthropology class and needs to know where the best research materials are for that subject, the LibGuide for that contains all the journals, databases, and ebooks,” said Librarian John Fitzsimmons. “These are really essential and can help you to get your research started in the right direction.” 

If research isn’t your problem, but the writing process is, the Tutoring and Learning Center also offers support for every class that has a writing component to it. Whether you need help outlining and organizing your thoughts through the pre-writing process, or working through the rough to final draft process, TLC tutors are there to support you.

Scenario 3: It says on my syllabus that I need to access Course Reserves? What are those, and how can I access those if I can’t physically go to the Learning Commons? 

Course reserves are typically books that instructors put “on hold” at the library for students to read on their own. They’re typically required reading... the perk being, of course, that you can “check them out” like any library book without having to buy it as a textbook (course reserves save you money!)  If you need to access a course reserve, send an email with the requested information, a librarian will scan the item and email it back to you. 

You can also contact the Learning Commons if you want to borrow a book. All you need to do is place a hold through the library’s Online Catalog by reaching a librarian online, or by calling 775-674-7600. Once you receive a notification that your hold is available, you can schedule a pick-up appointment. The pickup will take place in the library foyer, which will be open by appointment to students only.

Scenario 4: I’m taking an advanced math class, and I need a graphing calculator. But, I don’t want to buy one (they are expensive!) What can I do?

If you’re taking Math 96 or above and you need a graphing calculator, we have great news: you don’t have to buy one! The Learning Commons is continuing its calculator rental program. They have TI-83 Plus and TI-84 Plus calculators, the models recommended by our very own TMCC Math Department. Just be aware that rentals are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Due to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tutoring and Learning Center is waiving calculator rental fees for the Fall 2020 semester.

You might also want to keep in mind that tutoring can also be a great way to succeed in any math class. As stated above, many TMCC tutors are students themselves who are filled with useful tips and tricks for succeeding in the online learning environment. 

Don’t Wait: Contact the Learning Commons Today

Bottom line: if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the thought of taking all online classes, don’t. The TMCC Learning Commons is ready to help you to make sure Fall 2020 is your most successful semester yet!

For more information about how you can make the most out of the Fall Semester through the support services offered through the Learning Commons, contact the department at 775-674-7600.

For specific information on working with a tutor, contact the Tutoring and Learning Center