Academic Excellence and Getting Help at Mudd

The first two years of a student’s time at Mudd are primarily taken up with the Core curriculum, a set of classes from all the departments that Mudders take together. The Core offers an opportunity to get to know other students with vastly different interests than you, to experience all of the departments so you can pick a major with more confidence, and to build a foundation of knowledge across the scientific disciplines. However, for all of its advantages, it can be difficult at times! It means you are learning a lot about a lot of different subjects and it can be hard to keep them all straight. Thankfully, the uniformity offered by Core means that many types of support are also offered. This support can come in the form of upperclassmen in your dorm, who have all taken these classes before you, office hours from professors who are currently teaching the class (or have taught it before), and a program called Academic Excellence (AE).

Chalkboard reading "Physics AE: Please sign in!"

The chalkboard at this week’s physics AE!

Each section of AE (chemistry, biology, engineering, physics and math) has several facilitators (upperclassmen trained to guide problem solving and collaboration) who hold workshops throughout the week. At any given workshop, you’ll find students working through the homework assignment, asking clarifying questions about lecture concepts, or doing anything else related to the class. You can stay for the full time, or just drop in for a few moments. It’s not designed to only help students who are struggling–it’s for all students to have a space to work with their classmates, learn how to problem solve, and get help in a supportive environment. When I was in Core, I attended AE weekly because it was such a great place to work through my homework!

Now, as a junior, I’m actually a facilitator for physics AE. I really enjoy it for a lot of reasons. First, I definitely understand the material from the Core physics classes better now! Working through it again has given me a new perspective and more of an appreciation for how well the different classes fit together and link into the other aspects of Core. Second, it’s cool to be able to help people in the same position that I was in. Finally, I’m really enjoying learning more about how to teach and tutor, and it’s made me seriously consider whether that’s something I’m interested in after Mudd! AE has definitely been helpful to me, and something I’ve enjoyed across all my time here at Mudd.