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Student Story: William Poulos

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“Storytelling. I’m a Dungeons and Dragons Game Master.”

Meet William Poulos, a 30-year-old Marketing major in the USF Muma College of Business. Now a senior with plans to graduate in December of this year, William took a bit of a detour on his journey towards earning his college degree.

“I left college back in 2010, and I didn’t go back for about six years. During that time, I started two businesses. I ran them each for about two and a half years and then sold them off.”

This experience allowed William to develop a uniquely insightful perspective on the intersectionality of academia and business.

“I’ve been able to piece the dots together, just put the whole puzzle together really… I’m also getting to see where people’s disconnects happen, both with students and with professors as far as the difference between what school life is and what the real professional world looks like.”

In returning to college after all these years, William has also been able to see firsthand how the college experience has changed.

“The difference between when I started school in 2008 and today is a world apart. The community is not there nearly as much as it used to be.”

Missing this aspect of college life, William noted his appreciation for Knack’s ability to bring people together.

“One of the nice things I find about Knack is that it connects students to students. You connect students and you also allow the opportunity for multiple students to join together with a tutor, which really helps to build that community… You guys are basically sitting everyone down and saying, okay, you have to talk because you have to work on school.”

While some may think that this already takes place during class time, William would argue that it’s something entirely different.

“It’s in a much more casual and relaxed atmosphere than in the classroom, which allows people to be themselves and to actually communicate with one another.”

An eloquent communicator himself, William orchestrates weekly get-togethers in which he and his friends play the popular role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons.

“I’m a GM. Every Saturday, I cook a full three course meal for my players, and I run a game for about four and a half hours… I’ve been GM’ing in general for 11 years, and I’ve been running this particular game now for about a year and a half. It’s actually a lot of fun because I’ve been able to expand both my culinary skill set and my storytelling skill set.”

As someone who values skill building, social engagement, and storytelling, it’s no wonder that William understands the benefits of peer tutoring.

“I’ve always put a great deal of stock in getting things from multiple perspectives and the power of being tutored… When I saw the advertisement for Knack, I was originally planning on trying to become a tutor, funnily enough, because I’ve tutored in the past with Huntington learning center myself. Then, one of my professors told me that the service was available to USF students for a certain amount of free hours last semester, so I decided to look for a tutor instead.”

As it turned out, the timing could not have been any better.

“Right around that time, I was starting to have real struggles with my Stats 2 class and the TAs, while very helpful, just weren’t cutting it.”

William wanted to be clear that the individual TA’s weren’t at fault, they were simply overwhelmed by the volume of students needing help.

“There were too many students per TA. I think the final count was 557 total students in the class, and those were divided amongst like twelve TA’s and one teacher. So, when study halls happened, you would get two TA’s in the room and 30, 40, 50 students in there all wanting help.”

Frustrated by this lack of personal attention, William turned to Knack to find a tutor.

“I got the app myself and I put out a request… I looked at which tutors were highest rated for what I wanted, which was Stats 2, and I was able to very quickly schedule something and immediately start working together with a tutor.”

One of the things William appreciates about Knack is the ability to build a consistent working relationship with a tutor in a manner that fits into his schedule.

“I was able to work out a schedule with her because of her flexibility and she was so helpful with the material that I just wanted to keep working with her.”

When asked how this compared to working with a variety of different tutors, William remembered some not so great tutoring experiences he’s had in the past.

“I’ve had it happen before where I had a different tutor each time. Back when I was at Hillsborough Community College, their help center was like one person per five students and they would just jump around and alternate different tutors. So, you’d be with one guy for 20 minutes or less, then he’d jump over to the next student and this other guy who hadn’t been working with you the entire time jumps over to try and fill in.”

Needless to say, this did not allow for a smooth learning experience.

“With Knack, it’s a much a more stable and fulfilling environment than getting ping ponged around all the time.”

With considerable experience as both a tutor and tutee, William had some additional insight to share about what it takes to be an effective tutor.

“There’s no singular thing that it takes to be the best tutor. The best tutor is patient, is flexible, is understanding, and is definitely hardworking in trying to not only get their point across but to understand the other person that’s sitting across from them. They realize that just because this thing worked for them this way, this one time, it’s not necessarily going to work for this other person the same way. So, being adaptable is key.”

In the end, William ‘s tutor help him earn an A- on his final exam in QMB 3200.