While the ideal of “doing it all” escapes most of us, Kristen Runyon comes pretty close to capturing it. The mother of three homeschooled her kids through high school while also continuing her own education at Northwest State Community College near her home in Fayette, Ohio. She also recently took the helm of a pizza business that’s been in her family for more than 35 years.
With a schedule no one would envy, Runyon can use all the help she can get – which is why she takes full advantage of eTutoring for her classes at Northwest State.
“I’m really excited that … it’s so acceptable now for all ages to go to college,” Runyon said. “So with people working or having other obligations, it’s great to have eTutoring. I couldn’t say enough about it.”
It was a family affair during the spring semester of 2016, when Runyon’s son, Josiah, was also a student at Northwest State, and her daughter, Gracie, took courses there as a high school student through the Ohio Department of Higher Education’s College Credit Plus program. All three took advantage of the eTutoring platform to have papers reviewed for a composition course. While her kids were accustomed to her critiques, Runyon said the experience of having someone else’s comments and suggestions on their work was valuable.
“It’s always good to learn how to handle constructive criticism because that is another thing that everyone has to learn,” Runyon said. “It did make a stronger paper.”
Runyon originally heard about eTutoring through an e-mail the class professor sent out during the semester. Cherie Rix, former coordinator of the Success Center at Northwest State, said faculty are critical in getting the word out about eTutoring.
“I think the biggest thing with our online tutoring was getting the faculty buy-in,” Rix said. “That, I think, has been one of the most critical components to the success of our online tutoring here at Northwest State.”
Since Northwest State joined the eTutoring collaborative in 2011, Rix and her staff in the Success Center have gone out of their way to explain the ins and outs of the eTutoring platform, in some cases sitting down with faculty one-on-one. Rix said professors’ eyes “light up” when they see the extent of the service available to improve their students’ comprehension and writing.
With 86 percent of Northwest State’s students attending on a part-time basis, cases such as Runyon’s are not the exception but the norm. Many students are working and strapped for the extra time that full-time students might have to spend outside of class in a writing center or with a professor during office hours. With eTutoring’s off-hours capabilities, Runyon can close up the pizza shop late at night and still have time to submit a paper for editing before she goes to bed.
“It was so convenient because I could submit the paper at midnight, and they could review it and send it back to me,” Runyon said. “I always had a great turnaround time. When I had a chance, I could read over the tutor’s recommendations or changes, and I could rewrite the paper or add to it. It was wonderful to have that opportunity.”
Runyon is nearly halfway finished with the associate degree in human services that she started in 2011. Her dream is to one day work with children in orphanages. While the degree has taken longer than she anticipated, Runyon has greatly enjoyed her academic journey, with her children by her side.
“I don’t mind it taking longer,” Runyon said. “Each class is just so interesting and fascinating, and also I think it really helped my children see me go to college. I think it helped pave the way for them.”