As a freshman entering Virginia Tech, the idea of going to a Math Emporium to learn an online-style math was both a foreign and intimidating concept. Math had never been my strong suit — how was I supposed to teach myself a whole semester’s worth of it? Questions and doubts stormed inside my head, but had I known the reality (and perks) of the Math Emporium, there would have been no reason to worry.
The Math Emporium, which is often referred to as “the empo,” is located at University Mall, only a short bus ride away. I learned to take the UMS (University Mall Shuttle) route of the Blacksburg Transit, which stops at numerous places around campus, including Newman Library, McComas, Litton-Reaves and Burruss, and takes you directly in front of the Math Emporium building. The buses come every 15 minutes during the day, and then every thirty minutes after 6:15 p.m. Thus, getting to the Math Emporium was actually really easy, and even on weekends when the UMS wasn’t running, I could still take the UCB or Toms Creek shuttles.
In addition to the convenience of the buses, the Math Emporium is open to students 24 hours a day, seven days a week, granting students access at any time. This allows for lots of flexibility and makes it much easier to plan around a hectic academic schedule.
Instead of a traditional classroom setting, Virginia Tech’s Math Emporium consists of a huge room filled with hundreds of computers. Although many students come in with the misconception that they will have to teach themselves all brand-new material, the Math Emporium is equipped with numerous services to help students learn. A team of staff walks around the room with the sole purpose of helping and answering any questions students may have about their lessons. Students can also attend question and answer sessions, tutoring labs or even talk directly with their professor.
However, students should note that each course’s question and answer sessions happen once a week, tutoring labs are on weekdays from 4–9, emporium staff check out after 10 p.m. and they should make sure to check their instructor’s office hours.
For students who need a little bit more help learning math, the school offers free math tutoring sessions at the Student Success Center in Femoyer Hall for those enrolled in MATH 1014, 1025, 1226 and 1526. There are a lot of them, so even if your first tutor might not fit your learning style or be easy to understand, you can always try others until you find one who really makes the material make sense to you. In this way, the student’s experience is more customizable, rather than being stuck with one math teacher whose teaching style you might not understand at all.
In addition, the math courses are formatted in an incremented style, meaning you learn material on a week-by-week basis. This helps you keep track of your work and avoid falling behind. Conversely, since all the material is available online at once, you can get as ahead as you want in your work and even finish the course early. Another aspect of this format that many students find helpful is that all of your work is in one place, so when studying for an exam you can easily look at your past graded quizzes and practice quizzes to get an idea of what exactly you need to work on.
All in all, your experience at the Math Emporium will depend on what you make of it. Virginia Tech has done a great job setting students up for success in math, and students should remember that teachers and tutors at the Math Emporium are there to help you.