When is Tutoring Right for You?

Struggling in a difficult course can be frustrating and even scary. Even if your first instinct is to panic, relax for a second and assess the situation. In most cases, hiring a tutor is an excellent option; reviewing concepts with an expert can be very helpful. Sometimes, however, it can be counterproductive. So how do you determine when you should hire a tutor? The question you need to ask is this: is there a serious lack of understanding of the material or simply poor test taking, laziness, or some other small factor?

Especially in math or science classes, material is always building upon itself. So if your son or daughter completely fails to understand one area, moving forward can be nearly impossible. One indicator of this can be grades; generally anything lower than a C indicates serious lack of understanding. Also, C’s on two or more exams in a row should raise a flag. A student can also be behind if they take courses in a different order, or from different schools. Everyone draws the line between Algebra I, II, III, and IV in a different place for example. So if you’ve recently moved, taken a semester at a different college, or done a class on you own, then it is a good idea to select a tutor.

Another sign that of a serious problem is if a students starts feeling hopeless. If he or she begins to seriously avoid anything related to the subject, has an emotional response or tears, or lies about the subject, contact a tutor immediately. Learning should never be a traumatic experience. If any of these symptoms are present,
it’s nearly impossible to recover alone, and a tutor is a necessity.

Students can also benefit from gaining a broader or deeper insight into the course material. Many of our students choose to keep working with their tutors after their grades have improved for this reason. Remember that the point is not to get through it, but rather to understand the material. A great education is not only helpful for college, but for the rest of your life. So even with a bright student with excellent grades, working with a tutor is an excellent idea.

There are also a few situations in which you should think twice before hiring a tutor. Classes should be difficult, anything thing that requires new abstract concepts and rigorous thinking should be. Some students do poorly because they simply aren’t taking enough time to struggle with the new concepts. A bit of struggle is an important part of the learning process, and in this case hiring a tutor may be counterproductive. Make sure you talk to your son or daughter first to make sure this isn’t your situation.

The last reason to consider hiring a tutor is that some teachers simply are not great. Even if a student has an A, they could find themselves behind in college if there teachers are sub-par. This certainly isn’t always the case, but if a student finds a class to easy, or finds the subject boring or pointless, then they are probably wasting their time. In this case, having a tutor may be the only way to ensure a complete and thorough education.

A final note: no tutor has a magic grade wand. Two hours per week isn’t enough time to fully learn any subject. Tutors are there to answer questions, sure understanding, and teach problem solving and test taking skill that last long after tutoring sessions are over. So when making the decision to hire a tutor, ask yourself if highly individualized attention from an educational professional is the right choice to help you accomplish your goals.

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