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Tutoring and Academic Support Programs

Here, you will find information on the many ways that Academic Support Center helps students to succeed inside and outside of the classroom. Toggle the menus below to learn more about each program.

ESL Academic Support

All students for whom English is a second language must take the TOEFL test to determine their level of proficiency before enrolling at SAU. After receiving an international student’s TOEFL results, SAU admissions staff, the SAU registrar and Academic Support Center staff confer about the information received to determine admission and eventual placement in initial courses at SAU. Students may request to see required TOEFL scores by contacting the admissions office (Heather Foster – ext.1697) or the ASC office (Heather LaClear – ext. 1480).

Numerous ESL courses have been authorized by SAU faculty to be taught, but only when a sufficient amount of students are enrolled. (See course list below.) Students may inquire as to the availability of courses.

Specialized help is available

Students whose primary language is something other than English may need assistance in fulfilling reading, writing, listening (note taking), or speaking requirements in any course. You are invited to meet with ASC personnel for assistance. Heather LaClear will work with you on your course adaptations.

ESL course descriptions (from catalog):

GES 130 – ESL Intermediate Topics (3): This course will offer a variety of intermediate topics allowing the students to focus on a particular area. The topics may vary by semester. (Currently not offered. Program under review.)

GES 131 – ESL Intermediate Foundations I (2-4): This integrated skills English course will focus on reading, writing, listening/speaking and grammar. The specific focus will be on reading strategies, presentation skills, summary writing, introduction to essay writing, and comprehension and analyzation of a variety of authentic texts. (Limited offering.)

GES 132 – Intermediate Grammar (2-3): This grammar course will focus on understanding and using complex grammatical structures. A detailed editing procedure for written work will be introduced and practiced throughout the semester. (Limited offering.)

GES 133 – Intermediate Reading (4): This reading course will emphasize reading strategies to understand the organization of a text and the content. Increasing reading speed will also be a major focus. (Limited offering.)

GES 134 – Intermediate Writing Workshop (1-4): This course will focus on the organization of writing at the sentence and paragraph level. Students will learn to write topical sentences and develop each topic within a paragraph through clear explanations and examples. Effective use of transition words will be emphasized and practiced. (Limited offering.)

GES 135 – Intermediate Listening and Speaking (1-4): This course will focus on developing each student’s ability to communicate fluently and accurately by integrating listening, speaking and pronunciation practice. Specific listening and speaking strategies that focus on the American culture as well as the expectations and requirements of the American classroom will be studied and practiced. (Limited offering.)

GES 136 – Intermediate Projects (3): Students will complete projects such as surveys, newsletters and a group presentation, as well as participate in American culture field trips. While researching for the group projects, there will be many opportunities to interact and communicate with Americans in the Spring Arbor/Jackson community. (Currently not offered. Program under review.)

GES 137 – Current Issues in American Culture (3): This course will provide the opportunity to learn modern, idiomatic English – especially as used in U.S. journalism – to fully understand the current events and issues in the host American culture. The student will focus on the five major social institutions as expressed in American culture. Students will also be exposed to the cultural elements by which those institutions are articulated such as art, movies, sports and leisure activities. (Currently not offered. Program under review.)

GES 140 – ESL Advanced Topics: This course will offer a variety of advanced topics allowing students to focus on a particular area. The topics will vary by semester. (Currently not offered. Program under review.)

Math Review

Michigan Basic Skills Test Preparation

Freshmen and sophomores can receive tutoring in math, writing or reading in preparation for the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification (MTTC), which is a prerequisite for admission into the teacher education department. Study guides and practice tests are available for self-study.

Peer Tutoring

The drop-in tutoring center is available to all traditional undergraduate students and subjects. One-on-one tutoring is available at no cost to the student. Call ext. 1481 or come to the Academic Support Center office located in the lower level of the Student Center.

Reading Skills

After initial assessment and conferencing, students’ academic profiles are used to determine participation in appropriate general studies course offerings:

GES 116 – Reading & Study Assistance Program (3): A course designed to prepare a student to successfully handle college-level reading and study tasks. Goal-setting and time management are included early in the semester. The focus will be on interactive strategies for handling vocabulary development, note-taking and test-taking in targeted general education courses. GES 112 is required as a follow-up in the spring (Offered in fall).

GES 115 – College Reading 1 (2): (Entrance test required). A developmental reading course to assist new or returning students on strategies for dealing with University textbooks. Skills covered will include locating main ideas, drawing inferences, summarizing and vocabulary development (Offered in spring).

GES 112 – Application: Study Strategies (1): A course emphasizing application of learning strategies presented in GES 110 and GES 116. Selected content courses being taken concurrently by the students will be monitored weekly through tutorial sessions. Use of student-designed contracts helps to move the student toward self-management and application of successful study habits. Prerequisite: GES 110 (Offered in spring).

Study Fitness

What? There’s another way to study?

Students often realize new challenges in their approaches to studying when there are many demands on their time or numerous assignments due around the same time. University expectations are often more rigorous than what students have previously experienced in high school or community college.

Study smarter, not just harder

Just as a builder uses more than one tool to build a house, a student needs more than one study technique to tackle studying for a full-range of courses. Multiple methods of study are critical to success and variety helps to motivate students to more actively engage in the learning process. Not every idea works for every student. But, a new skill should be tried several times before it is declared “unusable.”

Focus on one or two new approaches at a time

Students have contributed helpful ideas and feedback about meaningful approaches. Several websites can link you to specific strategies related to:

  • Managing your time
  • Breaking big assignments into smaller manageable segments
  • Effective note-taking from texts or from lectures
    • Cornell note-taking method: a preparation for test review
    • Mapping connections of ideas (uses of Inspiration software)
  • Learning to use multiple senses
  • Reading and studying text material
  • Exam preparation/ review strategies
  • Memory techniques
  • Test-taking strategies
  • Test anxiety

How can you begin?

  1. Become proactive and research these hints. Your time will be well spent.
  2. Attend a seminar on SAU campus sponsored by ASC so you can see how these strategies work.
  3. Seek advice about any of the above topics from Academic Support Center Specialists. Contact ASC at 517.750.6481 or ext. 1481.
  4. Attend a study enhancement course: GES 110 – Study Enhancement (1): A course for incoming students who need modeling and practice using successful study skill enhancement tools. Primary topics are time management, learning styles, goal-setting, strategies for test-taking, note-taking and reading. GES 112 is required as follow-up in the spring (Offered in fall).

Websites for strategies:


  • Students at SAU may receive special permission to take tests in the office of Academic Support Center. In our new setting, improved testing areas are private and comfortable.
  • Accommodations may be established for students according to ADA guidelines. In such cases, professors are notified but students must schedule appointment times for tests.
  • Campus students: call Amber Hollowood for arrangements ext. 1481 or 517.750.6481. Professors and ASC staff will plan to have the tests available when scheduled. Guidelines for the testing environment will be explained to each student.
  • A student may arrange with their professor to take a test in the office of Student Academic Connections due to legitimate situations if prior arrangements are made. Professors must complete a testing record form. This service will be provided judiciously, but it offers a service to occasional students who need to take tests at times other than class time.

Testing anxiety: Academic Support Center has a wide range of resources available to students to help them overcome testing anxiety and help them to be better prepared to take college-level tests.

Writing and Research Assistance

Stop by the Academic Support Center office to request a tutor or contact the Writing Center to set up an appointment to meet with a writing tutor. Contact Amber Hollowood at for any questions.