When hiring a tutor to help you with your schoolwork, it is important to get one that is the right match. Globally, the tutoring industry nets an estimated $100 billion each year. Tutoring can take on many different forms and can be used for many different reasons. However, for virtually every different need, the right tutor can help the student learn more effectively and efficiently.
Many people, teachers included, believe the exclusive purpose of tutoring is to help struggling students to get through their homework and perhaps to study for tests. It is true that, in most cases, this is about all the hired tutor is capable of doing. But tutoring didn’t start off as a tool solely for remediating struggling students, and certainly a talented tutor can provide benefit to even the most advanced student.
In ancient Greece, the wealthy hired tutors to privately educate their children. In fact, Aristotle was hired for this purpose to tutor Alexander the Great. In the early days of the United States, very few children went to school, and instead were educated by master tutors. Today, although exceptionally talented “super tutors” are not as readily available as remediation tutors, it is still possible to hire an amazing tutor who can help an exceptionally talented student to really soar.
Whether are you looking for a remediation tutor or a super tutor, here are some ideas and questions you can use to help you to find a tutor who is the right match.
12 questions to ask in order in order to find the right tutor
1. What is your tutor’s educational background?
It is not always necessary for a tutor to have a PhD in mathematics in order to help a student though Pre-Algebra. In fact, a tutor with a PhD in mathematics can actually intimidate a struggling “average” student. However, a tutor with a more specialized and advanced background can often make a much bigger impression on a brighter student wishing to gain more insight. It really comes down to the needs and the expectations of the student. Learning about the academic backgrounds of various tutors can be helpful in choosing the right tutor, but it is only one of the questions you should be asking.
2. What subjects does your tutor handle and at what level?
The truth of the matter is that many tutors who specialize in working with elementary school students cannot handle even Algebra 1 or Physics. These tutors work well within a particular age group, but would be less effective for older students or more challenging concepts. In addition, some tutors can handle remedial and non-honors levels of certain classes, but not honors or AP levels. Learning what subjects a tutor handles, as well as their area of expertise, is essential in choosing the right tutor for you.
3. Does your tutor have experience as an actual teacher?
Teachers tend to educate students in the same way they teach in the classroom. Tutors tend to worry more about results, sometimes doing too much for the student. A good compromise is a tutor who focusses on results initially, but develops a relationship with the student that evolves to include teaching, guiding and mentoring.
4. How long has your tutor been tutoring?
New tutors can make a lot of mistakes at the expense of the student. Often they are not familiar with teacher expectations, and how to explain in a way that corresponds to what your teacher expects. It’s through experience that tutors learn how to help you anticipate and avoid mistakes before they happen. Tutoring has changed over the years and many new tutors want good pay but are not willing to prepare before seeing students if it is necessary. Chances are, the longer a tutor has been working as an educator, the more effective he or she will be.
5. Does your tutor get results?
Tutors can command much higher hourly pay rates if they get results. Results can come in all different forms, from enabling higher grades to producing more motivated students. Tutoring rates are usually decided by amount of experience, level of education, likeability, influence, and ultimately the kind of results the tutor gets.
6. Does your tutor have references, and better yet were they referred by a reliable source?
Although you can research tutors from lists, hands down, the absolute best way to find a good tutor is through a reliable recommendation. If you cannot find a good referral, then be prepared to try several different tutors before deciding which one is the best for your situation.
7. Is your tutor a professional or is tutoring a sideline?
There are instances in which you may want the tutor to stick around for a while. A sideline tutor might have to stop helping you half way through a course when his circumstances change. They may also be unable to meet when you really need them, because of their other jobs. If you want consistent support through the academic year, this is probably not the optimal solution for you.
8. Has your tutor graduated college, or still in college and if so at what level?
College students can make great tutors. They can be very knowledgeable and very professional, and especially more enthusiastic. They also tend to be younger and therefore perhaps easier for young students to relate to.
9. Do you need a high paid professional tutor or can you settle for a high school student tutor?
High school peer tutors can be very effective if a struggling student needs to meet for two or three hours per day, and doesn’t have a lot of money. Student tutors can charge anywhere from $0 to $25 per hour.
10. Is your tutor careful not to create a tutoring dependency?
Classroom teachers regularly complain that students who are receiving tutoring often do not pay attention. In many cases students actually tell their teachers that they don’t have to pay attention in class because their tutors will help them later. Sometimes tutors do too much of the work for the student as well.
11. If you have learning disabilities, is your tutor knowledgeable on those disabilities?
This doesn’t mean that your tutor needs to be a special education teacher, and in fact most special education teachers don’t have a solid enough background in core subjects to be able to tutor more advanced students. However, it is helpful if your tutor understands the difficulties associated with your learning disability and any accommodations you are entitled to. Your tutor should also be able to make suggestions of methods and compensation techniques that could help the learning disabled student.
12. Is your tutor familiar with your textbooks, your school, and your teachers?
It is best if you have a tutor who knows what you are being taught as well as what you are not being taught (but should be). Tutors with a lot of experience with students from many different schools can have a pretty good handle on not only what it will take to do well in your present class, but also on upcoming standardized exams and later classes. These tutors can specifically point out things you are learning in the classroom and that will also be on upcoming standardized exams such as the SAT and SAT subject tests.
If you have any questions or your own guidelines for finding the right tutor, please submit in the comment section.