One call away: Homework Hotline celebrates 25 years of problem-solving

(WTHI Photo)
(WTHI Photo)

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – For parents, there are some questions that mom and dad just can’t answer. School subjects become tougher and tutoring help becomes more expensive. That’s why one local college continues to offer their resources to your student for a little relief when you’re stumped.

“Coming up through high school I was always the one to tutor kids, you know, help kids out in the classroom,” said Kice Sanders, Student at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

A junior at Rose-Hulman, Sanders still tutors, but he does it by phone. As a freshman, he got involved working as a tutor for the school’s Homework Hotline, where he’s now a supervisor offering free tutoring services to students statewide.

“When you get a new call, every call is different,” said Sanders, “and you don’t know quite what to expect.”

The hotline is pretty simple. Whenever a student needs help on a homework problem or is just looking for help to better understand a subject, they call the hotline to speak with a Rose-Hulman student. The students help them solve the problems through the phone call or chat.

“Generally they’ll give us a problem and our first step is to ask how far have you gotten in this problem, or try to walk me through it,” said Sanders, “because at the end of the day we’re not trying to give people answers, we’re trying to help students learn how to get the answers themselves.”

The hotline has been around since 1991, now in its 25th year, the hotline has serviced more than 600,000 calls. Just last school year, 33,694 tutoring sessions were conducted through the hotline.

“I know sometimes you get calls that go for an hour and a half, but at the end of those calls, if they truly understand it those are obviously the best,” Sanders said, “they can last long or just be a short, real simple, quick call, they just had a mind fart and you just got to show them the right direction.”

Most of the calls are usually math or science related and come from grade levels of all ages, but all subjects can be called and discussed. Sanders says sometimes they even help out college students that call. Sometimes, Sanders says even the tutors can get stumped on a question and may need to ask for further assistance. He says all of the calls help the tutors stay up on their own skills, sometimes learning a thing or two themselves.

“Once you explain a question and tutor someone in it, then that’s when you know you’ve mastered that subject yourself,” he said, “and sometimes even when we get these advanced subjects we have to go and refresh our memory, but it definitely does help and keeps us fresh on the material.”

As students come across a difficult subject, the only way to understand it is to ask for help. As 25 years of problem-solving settles in, Sanders says the hotline is a resource that is here to stay and it’s only one call away for those who need it.

“That’s why we’re here, that’s why your teachers are there in the classroom, that’s why there’s all these resources online, we have resources on our website even,” he said, “and every day when we get kids calling in, that just affirms to me how good of a resource it is.”


Are you looking for ways that your child can practice better study habits? Here are a few suggestions from Rose-Hulman tutors:

Social Media: The lure of social media is one of the more challenging temptations for students to overcome when doing homework. Popular content-control software such as Cold Turkey will block access to selected websites during homework time. Thus, the distraction from social media is kept well in hand, and students are better able to concentrate on their studies.

Texting: Parental involvement in making a student’s cell phones off limits during traditional homework hours is an excellent idea because studies show texting while doing homework results in a weaker grasp of subject matter, reduced memory of homework lessons, increased time to complete assignments, and acceleration of brain fatigue.

Noisy/Distracting Surroundings: Parents should help facilitate their student in finding a calm, quiet study place for completing homework. Sometimes the chatter among family members or their questions and invitations to join family conversations can break a student’s concentration. “When kids call us, sometimes we can hear people in the background,” advises supervisor-tutor Sarah Walker, a senior electrical engineering major. “Their mom is trying to talk to them or ask what they want for dinner, or maybe the dog is barking. It’s really distracting to them most likely, because it’s distracting to me.”

If you want assistance from the Rose-Hulman Homework Hotline, call: 1-877-ASK-ROSE (275-7673) or go online to Hours of operation are September – May, Sunday – Thursday, 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. Eastern. The hotline is closed during Rose-Hulman’s holiday and quarter breaks.

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