McGraw Center Learning Support Information for Families

How to talk about McGraw learning support with your student

Learning support like that offered by the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning is an integral part of the Princeton educational experience for most students. Many courses have multiple sources of academic support. Yet, the role of learning support may be unfamiliar and unexpected to many students new to the University. So, helping your student recognize how common it is to use McGraw Center resources, the multiple benefits of doing so, and the easy access to our services can be crucial in helping them overcome any obstacles to using them and thriving academically at Princeton. One of the reasons so many students use our (and other learning support resources on campus) is because their courses are truly challenging: instruction is different than in high school, the curriculum is demanding, exams require new ways of thinking and professor’s criteria are exacting. In fact, we EXPECT all students to encounter new demands, confusion, and frustration and, as a result, need to adapt. Learning how to master these challenges is what makes a Princeton education so valuable. With this in mind, here are some ‘talking points’ that may help you in discussions with your family member:

  • McGraw Center programs are designed for all students: First-year students to seniors, those with excellent high school preparation and not, those achieving high grades and those who would like to improve their grades. This may be new to some students who assume tutoring is only for students who are “struggling” so addressing this assumption may be important. 
  • Each year thousands of students use McGraw tutoring, learning consultations and workshops, including typically over half of the first-year class and nearly half of the sophomore class. Other offices on campus also receive thousands of visits from students for academic support. It’s the NORM at Princeton to use these services, and if your student doesn’t do so they are at a disadvantage relative to their classmates.
  • Our programs explicitly focus on what is new and unfamiliar about Princeton teaching and learning, so your student can expect to learn new study methods and techniques that are designed expressly for them. All of our programs are course and task specific, providing Princeton-level strategies and skills. 
  • We create welcoming, supportive environments where students are not graded or in competition with others. Students work with more experienced students who serve as tutors and learning consultants who understand these challenges. Peer educators can also devote the time necessary to connect with your student and provide individualized guidance. We expect students to not know everything and to make mistakes as that’s how all of us improve.
  • Access to McGraw Center resources and services is cost-free, simple and convenient for all students (even those in different time zones). Some services don’t even require students to sign up in advance—they can simply ‘drop in’—and those that do take just a minute or two to do so. There are no fees associated with McGraw—or other campus—academic support services.
  • At McGraw, we focus on the “how” of learning and succeeding at Princeton. Our aim is to equip students with the knowledge, skills, strategies, and mindsets to thrive academically and holistically. We know there’s a lot to learn about new ways of reading, learning from lectures, studying, solving problems, managing time and tasks, and preparing for exams, etc. in the Princeton context so our focus is, distinctively, on the study methods and mental processes for doing so.
  • In addition to the benefits to learning and success, many students really appreciate the social support and connections they get from fellow students, tutors and learning consultants. They also benefit from the structure and accountability of regular sessions and gain confidence to meet Princeton’s many academic demands. No one thrives at Princeton by trying to do it all on their own. That may be a new mindset for some students, but it’s an essential one that family members can convey to their Princeton student. 

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