Understanding Tutoring Options And Finding A Great Tutor

by Kelly Walsh on September 18, 2011

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With the school year off and running, I thought this article was well timed, offering knowledge and resources many readers and web searchers would be looking for. Thanks to guest writer Mike Treidl from Tutor Bungalow and Los Angeles SAT Tutoring for sharing his experienced insights into today’s tutoring field.

The tutoring industry has grown rapidly over the last several years as a result of increased academic competition and a struggling educational system.  With this rapid growth has come a myriad of tutoring options that can at times be overwhelming for someone not familiar with the industry.  Below is a breakdown of the different options, with pros and cons: 

Tutoring Options Image

On Campus Tutoring
Often the best choice because of its convenient location and affordable pricing, on campus tutoring is unfortunately not offered by every school.  When it is available it should be sought out as the first option.  The advantages are convenient location and often free tutoring. The drawbacks are limited resources and occasionally lax standards in tutors.

Brick and Mortar Tutoring
“Brick and Mortar” refers to the fact that tutoring is held at a physical building.  This style of tutoring is what comes to mind for most parents and students when they think of tutoring, and is used by many big names such as Sylvan Learning Center and Kaplan.  Often these companies are easy to find because they spend a lot of money on advertising.

You can utilize resources like Yelp (search for “tutoring”), or a student’s guidance counselor to find a good “brick and mortar” tutoring company in your area.  The advantages, especially with established companies, are high quality materials, expert instructors, and potential cost savings if enrolled in a class.  The downsides are the cost of travel and gas, the extra expense for one-on-one tutoring, and the possible trouble focusing in a classroom-like setting.  Also, students may be forced to learn from the company’s materials rather than from their own homework.

In-Home and Private Tutoring
Typically associated with the wealthy or elite, private in-home tutoring is becoming more affordable with help from the Internet.  In this scenario the tutor comes to the student and tutoring is held in the home or at a nearby public location.  Finding private tutors directly can be difficult, as individual tutors do not have the resources to advertise themselves.  When word-of-mouth fails to deliver, Craigslist can be a one way to connect with individual tutors directly.  However, because anyone can post on Craigslist, the student or parent should be very discerning with who they hire.

Instead of hiring a tutor directly, a student can use a company to match them with an in-home tutor.  Often the quality of the tutor will be directly related to the quality of the company.  A quick Google search can provide a list of tutoring companies and reviews.  Some nationwide chains are Club Z tutoring, A to Z Tutoring, and WyzAnt.  The advantages with private in-home tutoring are no travel requirement, customized lesson plans, one-on-one attention and potentially relatively inexpensive tutoring.  Disadvantages are no pre-defined lesson plan or materials and the challenge of finding a quality tutor.

Online Tutoring
This is the most recent development in tutoring and has helped to make after school education even more affordable.  Typically a medium such as Skype, or comparable software, is utilized to connect the student and tutor.  This will require students to have a computer, a web cam, and internet connection.  As with in-home tutoring, students can connect with tutors directly (saving money but requiring more effort) or use a company such as Tutor Vista.

The advantages of online tutoring are lack of travel, customized lesson plans, one-on-one attention, potentially very inexpensive tutoring, and no physical contact between student and tutor.  The disadvantages are communicating over the internet, possibly dealing with a slow internet connection, and the challenge of establishing a strong relationship with the tutor in this situation.

The most important aspects to look for in a tutor are an ability to communicate, a personality that works well with the student, and a mastery of the material at hand.  A certain level of due diligence must be performed by the student (and/or the parents, when seeking tutors for their childrenn), to ensure that they get a great tutor.

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
Credible Sites for Homework And Study Help In 5 Major Subjects
15 online resources for help with English homework and class work
15 Online Math Help and Tutoring Resources

About 

Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer, and an adjunct faculty member, at The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY and is the founder and author of EmergingEdTech.com. As an education technology advocate, he frequently delivers presentations on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. Walsh is also an author, and online educator, periodically running Flipped Class Workshops online. His latest eBook, the Flipped Class Workshop in a Book was published in September, 2013 and is available here. In his spare time Walsh also writes, records, and performs original (and cover) songs (look for "K. Walsh" on iTunes or Amazon.com or check out his original song videos on here on YouTube ).

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Bec April 16, 2012 at 3:15 pm

This is a great run down of tutoring options, thanks for sharing! Have you explored noodle.org to find a tutor? It’s an education search engine that asks you a series of question about the learning opportunity you are looking for and then will recommend schools, tutors, resources etc. to you based on the information you provided. Their tutors are top notch and the results are a bit more reliable than those found on a blind search on craigslist or yahoo.

Private Tuition Mister February 16, 2012 at 5:03 am

I agree with the above comment. A positive rapport between student and tutor is imperative to the success of the work.

Both parties must feel they are making progress!

Tutoring Match October 11, 2011 at 1:51 pm

The right kind of tutoring depends on the learning style of the student and the teaching style of the tutor. In some cases, it’s important for the student to be in a school setting. Other students may have no trouble concentrating if the tutoring is done online. It’s really personal preference.

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