The Center for Academic Support reopens

After a year and a half of pandemic restrictions, the center is able to provide assistance in person.


Photo from the Center of Academic Support webpage.

The Center for Academic Support has been assisting LMC students since 1999.

Stephanie Arreola, Staff Writer

College is a life-changing experience, and while educational success ultimately brings its rewards,  the road can be tough to travel at times. College services such as tutoring and homework assistance can smooth the path through the learning process, and Los Medanos College’s Center for Academic Support is there to help. 

The center is designed to assist students with their studies and provide tips and tricks to become better learners, offering both tutoring and writing consultations. It is led by Coordinator Sandra Mills, assisted by Richard Stanfield. 

Mills, who has been at LMC for more than 21 years as a staff member, is a former student and also worked in the Disabled Students Programs and Services before she started at the center. She said the idea for a reading and writing center came from the English department back in the 1990s and it came to life with the help of Mills and a handful of college faculty and staff around 1999. 

Stanfield, who began working at LMC in 2015, started as a student tutor and later began to work alongside He said that with the help from the tutors and other center staff, students can strengthen their learning habits.

Mills explained that tutors are not there to simply explain solutions to students, but to provide the skills on how to find the answers independently. 

“We expect [tutors] to facilitate learning. We expect them to help students to learn, not to give out answers,” said Mills. 

This practice of building independent learning skills is vital to life after LMC, especially since students will not have center support when they leave.

“The idea is for the student to do it independently because when they transfer, they are not going to have access to us and when you go out into the real world these are skills you can take with you, but you can’t take the tutor with you,” said Stanfield. 

Becoming a tutor at the Center for Academic Support is simple but takes dedication. First, you must be referred to the center by a faculty member. It can be either that a professor approaches a student with the referral, or the student can ask their professor if they would be a good fit. After the recommendation is sent, the center will talk with the student and train them to become a tutor. 

Before COVID-19, the center was filled with students, tutors and staff helping one another. It was a safe space for people to come together to gain knowledge and to build a sense of community. Now during the pandemic restrictions, that feeling of unity feels absent in the center. Many of the students being tutored are helped via Zoom and only a handful come in for face-to-face tutoring.

“We used to have study slams, we would order pizza and food and we miss those things because it made it a sense of community,” said Stanfield. “There’s something tangible about breaking bread with someone, it breaks the ice.”

Mills said it is difficult to predict what the center’s support will look like in the future due to the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic. With tutoring being either fully online, face-to-face or a hybrid of both, Mills is unsure whether they are helping students to their full potential.

“We don’t know where students are right now, we don’t have that connection like we used to. The online thing I feel like is really distancing us,” she said.

Despite the pandemic restrictions, the center still has face-to-face tutoring services and does get students coming and going, though not at the rate it used to. 

The Center for Academic Support is located on Level 3 in the Core building of the College Complex in Pittsburg. It is open for in-person sessions Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is open remotely Mondays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, please visit the Center for Academic Support page.