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October has been a pretty scary month already. Freaky clowns are running amok and Donald Trump is still running for president. To top it all off, you just bombed your first midterm. You've tried office hours (too overwhelming) and help rooms (not actually that helpful*), but you are stuck. Have no fear, my fellow stress monkeys. Both Columbia and Barnard offer individual and small-group tutoring services.

*All joking aside, help rooms and TA hours really are great resources in addition to tutoring, and let's face it: You need all the help you can get.

CSA Tutoring at Columbia and Barnard's Peer-to-Peer Program are both free and easy to sign up for. They'll each provide tutors for the course you need, but know that some courses (think bio, chem, econ) are more in demand. More obscure courses may not have a tutor readily available, but both programs are constantly recruiting students to tutor in these subjects.

Tutors are usually undergraduate students who have received crazy-high grades in the course you're receiving crazy-low grades in. Some CSA tutors may be grad students, but they're still very impressively smart. While Barnard and Columbia students can tutor at both schools, you as a tutee can only be tutored at your own college.

CSA Tutoring Program at Columbia

First thing's first: Make an appointment with your academic advisor. You can request a tutor in any class, but the most common courses with tutors are physics, general and organic chemistry, econ, calc, bio, and stats. You can be approved for tutoring in up to three courses. More fun specifics and guidelines can be found by visiting the CSA website.

Getting down to the nitty gritties: After your request is approved, you can meet with your tutor in pairs up to twice a week for 50 minutes. You can schedule a week in advance or up to four hours before the start time (aka, the panic button). Don't expect to work on homework or assigned problems—CSA policies ~forbid~ it.

If CSA Tutoring still isn't enough, you can contact a private tutor directly for biology, chemistry, or economics.

Peer-to-Peer at Barnard

Honestly, the hardest part of this process is making an appointment with either First-Year Class Dean and Dean for Academic Assistance Rebecca Grabiner, or Associate Director of Collegiate Programs Elida Martinez-Gaynor. Do it ASAP because tutors are in high demand! In your appointment, you will confirm the class in which you need a tutor and will be sent a lil' form to fill out. Don't be surprised if there is not a tutor immediately available for the course, but fret not—tutors are hired all the time so hang tight. You can request a tutor for any course, but—exception to the rule!—for gen chem you'll contact Professor Rachel Austin for a tutor.

When you do get assigned your tutor, you can meet with them for up to two hours a week. You can set weekly appointments and have up to 24 hours to cancel. If you don't cancel without prior notice twice, you'll lose your tutor. You are guaranteed your tutor for the duration of a course.

Peer-to-Peer is in groups of up to three students, so don't be shocked if you have some buddies join you even if it starts as a one-on-one session (yay new friends!). Once you start receiving tutoring through Peer-to-Peer, you may not request a tutor through any other office on campus, so don't go cheatin' on Peer-to-Peer!

If all else fails, there are countless unofficial tutors available through class pages, Facebook, or phone apps such as Gooroo or ClassGod, which have reasonable hourly rates.

Best of luck on the rest of your midterms!

Know of other ways to get your hands on a tutor? Comment down below, Facebook message us, Snapchat us @CUspectrum, or tweet us.

Shulie Weinberg is a Barnard first-year and Spectrum trainee. She would definitely be failing comp sci if not for her fab tutor (thanks Meg!). Reach her at

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