Students in Service and Leadership at Harvard

Tatiana Patiño- The Story of Us

Who Are Our Tutors?
Right now , we have 4 tutors from Harvard, 4 tutors from Wellesley, 1 tutor from the University of Massachusetts, and 1 tutor from a local high school. Our tutors range from seniors in high school to seniors in college. For many, this is their first year in Keylatch, but some like my co-director have been in Keylatch for over 3 years. One of our tutors has been involved with Keylatch for 14 years, and she began as a student in the afterschool herself.

Why do our Tutors Choose to Volunteer with Keylatch?
Responses to an anonymous survey from current and past Keylatch tutors showed common themes in why tutors choose to volunteer. Many cited a desire to “give back to the community.” Others discussed wanting to “connect with other college students.” A recurring theme in the answers was a desire to work with children, for many, based on previous experiences tutoring and working with children. An analysis of the responses showed that five out of the ten volunteers that responded to the survey were considering a career in education. These finding align with Moore et al’s beliefs that “staff at universities… can promote volunteering among college students by emphasizing altruism and new experiences and organizing volunteer activities related to a student’s academic major” (Moore et al 395).

Quotes from Tutor’s Responses

“This is my first semester; however, helping children is a welcome relief to my busy academic schedule.”

“I loved forming relationships with the kids. Keylatch provided a space where I could support the kids academically and form more personal relationships with them. The other tutors were also a great team, which I was sad to leave.”

“I loved building relationships with the kids and the team of tutors. I also believe strongly in providing additional sources of academic support outside of school, where the kids receive more individual attention. If I forwarded this by tutoring in Keylatch, then the time spent was worth it. Growing up near Boston, I felt and hope that Keylatch was giving back to my community.”

What is causing tutors to not return?
The main reason that tutors are choosing to not return to Keylatch is the extensive time commitment that Keylatch requires. Even though it is only 2 hours of actually working with the students, the commute takes anywhere from half an hour each way for Harvard students to an hour and a half each way for Wellesley students . This increases the time commitment from a 2-hour commitment to a 4 to 5-hour commitment

Why is it Important to Understand why Tutors Volunteer?
I am looking to understand what motivates Harvard and Wellesley students to participate in afterschool programs despite the significant time commitment. Though it is easy to assume that altruistic reasons are at the core of what motivates Harvard and Wellesley students to join afterschool programs like Keylatch, I would like to understand what keeps these students volunteering even on the days where the kids in the program are difficult and a simple cost-benefit analysis makes it seems as though the “good” that is being achieved through the service work is not worth the significant time investment.

Unlike other forms of volunteering, afterschool programs can be disheartening at times because the students are very fickle. One day they might tell you how much they love coming to afterschool and the next day they tell you that they hate afterschool and that they never want to come back. For this reason, it is not always easy to feel as though your work in afterschool is actually constructive. I am interested not only in what factors influence a volunteer’s initial decision to join an afterschool program but also in what motivates volunteers to continue volunteering throughout multiple semesters.

I am also interested in what factors cause volunteers to quit their positions and whether there is anything that the organization could have done to prevent that volunteer from leaving. For example, if a major concern for volunteers is the travel time, I want to find out whether the travel time is a make-or-break factor, or if there is any way the organization can ease the burden on volunteers.

Overall, the goal is to find out what motivates Harvard and Wellesley students to volunteer in afterschool programs like Keylatch. As well as to find out what factors play a part in a volunteer choosing to remain a part of the program for multiple semesters. Lastly, I would like to find out what factors are influencing volunteer’s decisions to quit the program and whether there is anything the organization can do to prevent the volunteers from quitting. Together, the answers to these questions will allow me to better meet the needs of my volunteers and to approach the recruitment process in a way that appeals to more Harvard and Wellesley students.



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