We asked Christopher, one of Arden’s Academic Skills Tutors, to share more about his work and offer some advice to students at this incredibly challenging time.
We’re incredibly proud of our Academic Skills Tutor team here at Arden. They offer our students help in developing a whole range of academic skills including academic writing, structuring coursework and assignments, using library resources and carrying out research, understanding referencing and avoiding plagiarism. All the vital skills students need to master to progress and succeed on their course.
Our Academic Skills Tutors are passionate about supporting students in the development of their academic skills for positive outcomes on their progression and achievement. They offer tailored help from induction to graduation with tailored seminars and bookable 1-2-1 sessions.
How long have you been with Arden?
Almost a year – I started in April 2020 when the Academic Skills Tutor team was created.
What did you do before joining the university?
I used to lecture in English at a vocational college. I spent most of my time trying to convince the Motor Vehicle Maintenance students that poetry and stories belonged to them as well.
What is a typical day like?
On any given day I might give a workshop on academic writing, support a couple of students with their referencing in 1:1 sessions, maybe draft a blog post for the library website, and consume approximately 400 bagels. I work from home, so I have almost forgotten what it’s like to wear proper trousers.
What's the best thing about your job?
I get to read interesting essays written by students with interesting ideas. I’ve learned a lot about a whole range of subjects, and it’s a pleasure to help thoughtful and conscientious people develop their writing and – just as importantly – find their confidence. I’m not a paternal person at all, but when I see my students achieving their targets and progressing through their degrees, I do feel like a proud dad.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
The present continuous. I am not liking essays that are being written in the present continuous!
How can students make the most of lockdown for their studies?
I think it’s important to remember that lockdowns are mentally exhausting, and that while we might have the time and energy to learn how to bake sourdough, studying for a degree is a different matter entirely. If anything, lockdown is a major challenge for a lot of the students I support. With that in mind, I always advise students to make the most of the support that Arden offers and to stay connected with their course-mates. I think there’s a lot of pressure to make the best of lockdown, when making it through lockdown is enough. It’s ok to struggle and to ask for help – that what I’m here for.
If you could give three top tips to students - what would they be?
- Read omnivorously – you never know where the next idea will come from.
- Write in the margins of your books. Your voice is important too.
- Say what you mean. Language is everything - use it carefully.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I love reading and I like to write essays, poetry, and songs – I think I’ll always be a literature student at heart. I’m quite obsessive by nature and I’m terribly frightened of being bored, so I tend to latch onto things and immerse myself in them. Last year I took up skateboarding, and I have never had so much fun going to the shops and back.
Who are your favourite authors?
Sylvia Plath, Carmen Maria Machado, Mary Ann Evans, Guy De Maupassant, Oscar Wilde.
What talent would you most like to possess?
Fluency in a language other than English. Also, the ability to play the saxophone.