Come exam time, most AUC students turn to their hurriedly scribbled notes and their rarely perused textbooks to cram packets of information in as little time as possible. But with nerves frayed, a number of students are increasingly turning to private tui- tion to help boost their grades.
This phenomenon, which is usually associated with high schools and government universities, has slowly made its way into the ranks of AUC students.
“The concept of private lessons is a paradigm in Egyptian ideology; students see it as the easier option and go for it,” said a student who chose to remain anonymous.
According to a tutor who gives private lessons in economics, mathematics and statistics to students from AUC, GUC, MSA and other universities, the popularity of private lessons indicates a flaw in the educational system. He believes the growing trend is due to a mixture of students being lazy, and the professor being unable to appropriately deliver his
or her material. He also said that sometimes students who are
already doing well in a class decide to take private lessons to “ensure” that they get an “A” to declare their desired major.
“A girl who is an A student and has a GPA of 3.8 came to me because her professor explained mathematics equations through slides with no prac- tical approach whatsoever,” the tutor said.
“Mathematics need practice and require that the process of the equation be solved on the board in front of the students.”
Some students see the fault within the cycle of private tuition, but believe they are victims trapped within a vicious cycle with no choice but to resort to the lessons or succumb to bad grades.
“I am against the concept of private lessons; this is actually the first time I’ve ever taken one while I was at AUC, and I’m a senior,” the student said.
He said that the class professor failed to con- sider that not all students were on the same level of comprehension and that some were in need of background instruction.
Although students from nearly every discipline are believed to resort to private tuition, the con- struction engineering student body has been unusu- ally open about the issue.
It is no longer a secret; any student who asks will get a list of names of private tutors available.
“About 40 percent of my friends take private lessons, and it’s because our professors don’t have time to discuss anything with us outside of class. The teaching assistants aren’t always available. I’ve taken private lessons in about six courses so far and got good grades in them after almost failing,” a construction engineering student, who wished to remain anonymous, said.
Another student from the department de- scribed the phenomenon as an “unethical yet prac-
tical” option. Other students expressed their dissatisfaction
with the online evaluation system. “I think the issue can be tackled if the univer-
sity starts to take the online evaluations of profes- sors more seriously. Our opinions aren’t taken into consideration, and sometimes professors who aren’t good teachers stay on campus even after getting bad evaluations,” said another student, who added that as a result, students have stopped taking the online evaluations seriously as well.
The Caravan’s staff faced great difficulty in get- ting students and tutors to open up about this is- sue. Students were reluctant to provide their names because they feared their grades would be affected. Tutors preferred anonymity because, while provid- ing private tuition is not illegal or against university policy, many find it embarrassing to admit that they give private lessons in exchange for fees.