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Hey there everyone! Once again it’s been far too long since my last post, but you know how sometimes we are simply so busy that, if we have a free weekend, we’re just going to rest and do nothing all day long. Anyway when these times come one just has to man up (ladies too) and put some effort in being productive, even if it just means writing a blog post.

What I want to make the main topic of today’s article is however something completely different. There is one thing that the university (I’m quite sure Pavia is not the only one) offers as a sort of intermediate between teachers and students, a figure which is devoted to helping students consolidate concepts they’ve already covered in class, rather than providing them with new ones: I’m talking about the tutor.
Tutors are not meant to be proper lecturers: their job is to “support” the professor’s teaching in a number of possible ways, be it providing full frontal lectures or meeting the students individually or in small groups to tackle some topics in a more interactive way. In all honesty, the first category is the most prevalent one in Pavia, at least from what I could see so far: sometimes the students demand lectures in order to receive a maybe simplified or more clear explanation of something that was already covered in class, while some other times a matter of funds makes it impossible for the tutor to have enough hours to meet smaller groups of students. Nevertheless, the figure of the tutor remains potentially very helpful because he/she can give study advice and other tips regarding exams and courses in general, including which topics would be important to remember for the remainder of your studies.

Yes, you’ll feel like this, teaching other students

If you hadn’t got it so far: yes, I am a tutor. But no, I’m not saying tutors are amazing and they know everything; considering tutors are most of the times students like any other, only from a couple of years later, we’re bound to find some good ones and some bad ones: they could be lovely people but not very knowledgeable, or could be very smart but not entirely “open” to students, and there will be everything that stays in between.
In the end it all comes down to the tutor’s good will to deliver the best possible experience to fellow students, so as to help them through their academic path.

Now, after all this babbling, some practical information:

How are tutorials structured?
Well, a few months before the beginning of the academic year a number of tutorial projects are activated, each receiving a certain amount of hours; this is an indicative number, as the actual tutorial may take less or more than that amount. Then, either the professor informs the students of the possibility to attend the tutorial (example being an ECG tutorial which started last year, reserved to 4th years), or the professor compels the students to attend it (example: microbiology), or even the professor employs the tutors in the teaching throughout the course (anatomy).

Hey, should I become a tutor?
That’s entirely up to you; personally I can say that it is a good experience if you like to teach, or if you would like to review some subjects you’ve studied some years ago so that they don’t end up in your brain’s trash bin. If you’re a bit more down-to-earth, it’s a chance to earn some money: tutors are paid a small fee by the university (gross €14/h) on the basis of the amount of hours they work. I want to say, however, that if this is your only motivation you’d better take up a part-time job through the university, because tutors usually end up working longer hours than what they’re paid for, and this doesn’t include the time they spend to review the material by themselves.

I made up my mind and I want to do it: how should I proceed?
Good to know you’re part of the team! The whole application is not too difficult: you need to go to the COR website (Centro Orientamento, a university facility which provides career advice both pre- and post-university), where you will find all the information you need. I’ll put a link here so you can find the page more easily.
More or less students can apply to up to three tutor positions, and multiple students may get chosen for each tutorial; applications open at the end of February or beginning of March, and will be valid for the following academic year. A commission will evaluate all the candidates on the basis of a number of parameters like the mark obtained in the subject of interest or the year of enrollment, and will assign the position to some students, while others will get a place as a “reserve” and will be contacted by the university if one of the tutors should step back.

Now that we’ve reached the end of this post, I’ll say one thing: wow, this was a boring one! You’re probably thinking the same, aren’t you? I know, I know, but since I was asked about it during one of the numerous tutorials I deliver, and considering that it’s not that easy to find some info about it unless you know where to look, I thought I may as well make myself useful and explain it here.
For those of you who managed not to fall asleep this far, have a wonderful week. Cheers!