Sensitive Situation. How Would You Handle It?


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Positive Geek
Apr 24, 2005
Reaction score
Hertforshire, England
This is a long one but has been niggling at me since the first day I started college 4 weeks ago. I did seek advice initially from a few peeps and things improved, but there are still issues and I would like to know how you feel I should handle it?

13 in our group, mixed age with a few late teens to early 20's, a few 30 plus, one 40 then me 43 and then one 52 yr old. We all get on well and there is a nice vibe in the class. The 52 yr old is a nice enough person but I honestly can't see her going the distance with the course as she does not seem to be coping. She sat next to me on our first day and we sort of got paired up together.

This is how the story goes; At the beginning of term XX kept borrowing my writing tools. No big deal but it became constant, then one day she borrowed a pen (okay just a stupid pen) but then I had to ask for it back, whereupon she returned it with no lid. I asked for the lid so she returned it with the wrong lid (didn't even fit) so I asked for the correct lid please. Then she returned the wrong pen:grr:.

Now you may think I'm getting wound up about nothing, but this was after I had to speak to my tutor, as XX was not helping me set up or clear away after waxing, facials etc..... And I mean just that. She would do nothing, nudda, but stand and watch!! I got wax pots, bowls, towels bedding etc..... and noticed that she would excuse herself to the loo or ramble through her kit bag for nothing in particular. She would use any stalling technuiqe possible to avoid setting up or clearing away.

I tried to give her instructions for various jobs but to no avail. Chatted with my tutor again and this time she gave us set jobs to supervise such as WW check that bins are empty, YY check cabinets are tidy etc..... Well XX was given a simple job which she did then packed her bags and watched me run like a mad person clearing up our waxing station by myself :irked: !! I suggested she start helping to clear away and her answer was, "But I wasn't given that job":grr::grr::grr:.

I lost the will to live at this point, so my tutor had a word with her and she has improved somewhat but she just seems so vague most of the time. She is not coping with the syllabus. In our twice weekly tests, the rest of the class are scoring 90% plus. Her marks are in the 20's and 30% or 50% and a college pass is 60% plus. She did get 67% once but I know the tutor gave the marks away to help boost her morale.

I know she has a few difficult family issues as she is a single mum. I don't know if she has a learning difficulty like dyslexia, but college does offer help for such difficultties. We had a very simple test today to lable a basic diagram of the nail for 10 marks. We were all told that this is what the test would be and we all have the exact same diagram in our notes. We all got 100% and she got 30%. I just felt so sorry for her as she was quite humiliated, but to be honest, I don't think she is revising at home as we all are.

Here is my question. Do I help her and try to support her a bit or do I let her sink? I am also a student and have to learn myself, plus I have a family to care for. She definitely lacks confidence and I've offered a bit of help, but I find she then tends to rely on me putting in the work. For example, I will draw a simple diagram to help me understand something which she then copies, so I kinda feel she is benefitting from all my efforts because it's easier to get the work off me. This will not help her in the long run and my colleagues also find her efforts dire.

Sorry this has been a long one. I want to handle this sensitively. I want to be kind but I also don't want to be taken advantage of.

What do you make of this?
Things not got much better with this then Tracey.

You are in a difficult situation and are probably stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea here. The only other thing I can suggest is perhaps at break or lunch one day be honest with her and ask her how she is finding the course - you may be suprised at the answer you will get and I think that your instinct will know what you need to do after that.

Oh Tracey this is a hard one. Do you help and risk sinking yourself or do you sit back and watch someone else sink.

Have you thought maybe chatting to her directly, maybe go for a coffee after your course and just chatting about "stuff". See where it takes you.

Me being me would help all I could, but ensuring that my own work didn't suffer and at the end of the day she needs to pull her finger out or she will never learn a thing. She has to pass on her own merits, not yours. There is only so much help you can give someone, she has to want to learn to take it in and it seems to me that maybe she doesn't actually want to learn much at all.

One other thing, she may feel very self consious, maybe she does have learning problems and doesnt want anyone to know. Maybe by you talking to her and mentioning that you have to keep a dictionary by your PC to check spellings frequently may open her up.

You are a lovely person, but I know you. We have had this convo before and you are so POSH, she probably feels completely intimidated by you.

Go for a brew with her, suggest a study hour on evening, anything to get her talking. Find out whts going on in her life that may be causing this and it may just give her a kick up the ass to get herself moving in the right direction.


Rachel xxxx
I don't mean to sound harsh but it is clear this is affecting you,if you take responsibility of her it will only get worse and grind you down

This is your tutors job,not yours,now enjoy your course :!: :hug:
sorry to sound harsh but shes not your responsability, you have to be a little selfish im afraid.
Ive been walked over so many times over the years cos im a softy like you.
Ive been in this sutuation before where they sit back and let you do all the work for her.Shes a big girl , not a child and she knew what shes got herself into doing this course. I have a disability too and find life hard like the rest of us, but shes got to get on with it like i and many others do.
The college is there for her for extra tuition etc, not you, you got to think of your own future, no bugger looks out for you do they?
sorry if i sound uncaring, but im not peeps.Ive been down that road before.
i had a young girl in my group who really struggled. (she passed cibtac and cidesco in the end)

one girl of a simialr age paried up with her, they did study groups together so they both learnt. If you feel comfortable with it, you can almst take the role of tutor, by teaching you learn and it sticks, she can probably learn better off you if you can change it slightly.

one of my housemates struggled and I ''taught'' her it really helped me because it became second nature.

Just an idea, but to be honest the course gets alot harder so if she doesnt get on it now she'll really struggle.

It might also be worth asking a tutor how to handle it, surely they'll take it out of your hands?

Also maybe she'd find it easier with pictures rather than words, some people just learn better that way.

Hope the course is going ok,


Becki xxx
From what you've said it doesn't like she is even trying !

I was getting annoyed just reading about the tidying up as I remember there was a girl at college who would just stand there gawping as the rest of us rushed round frantically trying to set/clear up.

If she gets to dependant on you then you will be stuck with her. Is there any way you can swap round with the other girls ? If not then I would ask the tutor to insist that you all pair up with different people each lesson, imo thats the way it should be anyway.

I really feel for you as I remember what its like. At the end of the day you have paid a lot of money for this course and if you feel like this after 4 weeks it will only get worse if its not sorted, hope you sort it out.
just in her defense maybe she has low self-confidence? or maybe she's a little..ummmm...spoilt!!!

Bombini makes a good point careful you dont get glued to her!!

becki xx
Also :lol: I'm a firm beleiver in if you want help you also help yourself,even if she is struggling,she can't even be bothered to make the effort and even try to set up

I would find this draining in this situation,if that makes me selfish fine,but you gotta look out for number 1,no one else will
Tracey this is NOT your problem hun,you need to speak to the tutor and let him/her know what's been going on and how you feel.

On my course I was extremely used by my delightful,'partner',she cheated constantly and would ask to read my passed assessments so she could read up on the answers,also she would think nothing of trying to read over my shoulder during exams.:eek:

I got exasperated and in the end sadly HAD to speak to the lecturer,I can tell you it ground me down and I would get totally peed off that all my hard work with revision was for nothing when she thought she could just copy my work.

It can be very difficult when we are partnered up,especially if they aren't your ideal partner,trouble is it kind of just,'happens',dosn't it?One minute you are a new student the next the girl/lady in the next chair is your partner:irked:whether we like it or not.Well...unless you're rude.

There's loads of support for people with dyslexia and it's the tutors job to spot these problems and give help where it's due.Focus on your self not someone else.I can tell you now,if you do get involved it can really grind you down,even with the best intentions,and it gets a hell of a lot worse.

Good luck:hug:
I don't mean to sound harsh but it is clear this is affecting you,if you take responsibility of her it will only get worse and grind you down

This is your tutors job,not yours,now enjoy your course :!: :hug:

I agree with Becki - especially the last part

I understand the principle of working as a team with your 'work partner' when paired up at college but this is going beyond that level. Becki quite rightly says, you're not the tutor :hug:

It's the nurturing instinct in us Techs/Therapists/Stylists that make us want to help out all the time :lol:
Also :lol: I'm a firm beleiver in if you want help you also help yourself,even if she is struggling,she can't even be bothered to make the effort and even try to set up

I would find this draining in this situation,if that makes me selfish fine,but you gotta look out for number 1,no one else will

A couple of things to think on:

"Seek and you shall find, it is always so in life"
"You only fail if you fail to try".
"Give someone a fish, they eat for a day. Teach them to fish, and they eat for always" (or something like that)

She is not seeking, therefor not finding.
She's not trying, so the failure is of her own making.

I know what kind of heart you have, and it's generous to a fault.
BUT your first responsibility is to yourself and your family. While we all like to help out sometimes.... we can't live someone's life for them.
Clearly she is lazy and hadn't realized how very much work is required for this course/profession. Otherwise, she'd at least jump in to set up/clean up as necessary. But even that, she's getting out of. If she was truly interested - problems or no- she'd put in an HONEST effort.

Cut the apron strings and cut her loose. She's responsible for her own future, NOT you.

Get another partner, or work on your own so that your work reflects YOU and not an unevenly balanced team, AND so that she can't take credit for your efforts.
It's NOT your job to carry her and fix her life for her.

You got your own fish to fry, let her cast her own fishing rod.
And if she's too lazy and/or uninspired to pick up the fishing rod, then it's HER loss.

Giant hugs to you for having a heart. But, you really gotta worry about yourself. This is your education/career we're talking about.
teamwork is teamwork as in like me i bet your all pulling together helping each other out, and helping out as a class peeps who need it, isnt fair on you if its draining you , there is a similar person in our class like you we all rallied round etc but the tutor did eventually pick up on this and also her negativity and had a word......and she did buck may have to ever so subtley distance your self, if she asks why just say your finding the course hard too and need to sometimes be on your own to help yourslef learn.
I know were you are coming from but there comes a stop point doesnt it were you feel helpingher is actually going to make your work suffer and thats not fair on you mate.
Sorry to sound a bit harsh but I think there's a limit to how much you can help someone who won't help themselves. :rolleyes:

Don't get steamed up over it.

Buy her a new pen:lol: and let her get on with it.
Thank you all for your replies. I am reading everything and taking it all on board. It is a difficult situation, I agree, and there is also alot I haven't told you as it would mean writing a thesis :eek:. So I'll spare you, lol :lol:.

I will say this though as I think it is relevant here. As some of you will know, my 13 yr old daughter is dyslexic and has struggled most of her school life. She has been horribly bullied and is fortunately now in a lovely nurturing school and receiving dyslexic support.

I did a course several years ago to help me help her and through this I discovered that I am possibly dyslexic. I struggled at school and had to sit my O'levels 3 times :eek:. Now I am averaging 96% in college because I have learned how to learn.

Yes, it is hard work and takes time, but I condense my hundreds of pages of college notes onto index cards (questions one side and answers the other). I draw pictures and do spider diagrams etc..... This is how I now learn. I am a visual learner. Ok it's not for everyone, but it works for me.

I have suggested that she try this method and she keeps saying, "Yeah, sounds like a good idea" but doesn't do anything about it.

I'll be honest with you, I don't want to become a study buddy with her. She is not my sort of person IYKWIM and I study better on my own. I have suggested little things for her to do but she doesn't follow up on any of them and this is where I feel I'm hitting a brick wall.

I think I may have to have a tea or coffee with her (as oey and Rachel mentioned) and find out where she is coming from.
I would definitely talk to your tutor again. If she hasn't already noticed this lady's behaviour she should've done, that is what she is there for Tracy not you. By putting this extra burden on your shoulders you are jeopardising your own learning.

Your tutor needs to nip this in the bud NOW. What she also should be doing imho is changing you round each practical session so that you get to work on a variety of people.

This may end grinding you down so far that you don't want to continue on your course and all for one lazy a**e!
Hiya hun. I agree completely with what various people have said already: BE SELFISH!!!!!!

You are there to learn, and your own study will suffer if you try and take this other lady's problems on board

Your tutor is aware of the problem and so it is her job to tackle the situation, not yours

I'm sure you have paid, and are still paying lots of money for your course, dont let it go to waste over someone who may be genuinely struggling, or maybe is just not putting the effort in, either way, its not up to you to try and bail her out.

Good luck, I hope you enjoy your course and pass with flying colours as they say :green:
Oh I feel for you hun over this, I know that you such are a caring person, but as others have said, you need to look after no.1. I can understand how you want to help her with the dyslexia but surely your tutor can deal with this and there should be the help in place for her regarding this. Surely the college were aware of this when she enrolled and student services are available for this reason. The college or your tutor cannot expect you to take on this responsibility to the possible detriment of your own learning environment.

As for her laziness, well, there is no excuse, that is putting extra pressure on you.

I hope you get it sorted :hug:
Also remember that noone is doing her any favours by helping her too much.I presume she intends to make a career out of beauty therapy so how will she ever get on in a work place if she can't work on her own or do the work.
Maybe she really is just not up to it.
Its not an easy course and the problem is when colleges take in adult students they dont tend to worry so much about whether they are academically up to it but more about whether they are getting their money and filling the course.
If you continue to help i think you will find that you will get more and more irritated,frustrated , stressed and resentful.You have a long time to go and you really need to think about what is going to be best for you. It's not being selfish just sensible.She needs the help from the right sources and that is not you.

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