In my first semester of college, I didn’t have a problem set, or “pset” for short. I came to Tufts as a potential International Relations (IR) major, trying to run away from quantitative subjects like math and statistics. But when I switched majors to Engineering Psychology, I started taking Calculus classes, and guess what? Problem sets are a big portion of our final grades. These classes have weekly psets, worksheets filled with math and problem solving. The assignments are different from the workload of majors like English and IR, with lots of reading and writing papers.
If you ever come across a pset at Tufts, try to use the following tips I’ve learned about handling psets for the very first time:
Utilize academic resources at Tufts. The StAAR Center is probably the main tutoring center on campus. The tutors are students who did well in the class previously, and they do a great job explaining concepts and assisting with the psets. I’ve been to tutoring sessions where I was the only one there, so I had the tutor all to myself. I always encourage students to book a meeting with a tutor before handing in their psets to make sure the answers are correct.
You should also try to go to office hours when you can. During office hours, try to ask specific questions about the psets or concepts you've found hard to grasp. For that, you can always prepare before office hours to utilize your time with your Professor or tutor more efficiently. It's ok to be nervous when going to office hours, but assume Professors want to help you. If the regular office hours don't work for you, try reaching out to faculty you want to talk to and they'll certainly make room for your request.
Working together with friends can help you find answers to killer questions. If you don’t know where to find space for a group study, try to book study rooms in the Tisch Library. You can also utilize the identity-based centers that make up the Division of Student Diversity and Inclusion (DSDI), “a collection of six centers that provides resources and outlets for students considering their social identities” (Tufts website). The DSDI is made up of the Latinx Center, Africana Center, LGBT Center, Women’s Center, FIRST Resource Center and Asian American Center. They usually have free snacks and beverages to make you and your friends feel comfortable. Of course, you should always follow the university’s COVID-19 guidelines about social gatherings.
I know classes can be hard at Tufts. I’m glad I’ve found support and community to go through psets for all my Calculus classes. Everyone has their own strategy about how to get through their work. All you have to do is find which resources suit your needs better.