Adult students, and some parents visiting their child’s online or offline school, may see tutoring services offered through the school. Those who do not have tutoring offered through their own, or their child’s, school may know of an independent tutoring program offered locally or online. Finding tutoring is pretty easy. But everyone is not clear on what tutoring is meant to do, or when they or their child should look for a tutor.
Tutoring is appropriate for people who struggle at a subject or skill
While this may not be the politically correct thing to say these days, the truth is that some people are flat out bad at certain subjects. This does not make anybody better or worse as an overall learner, and certainly not as a person, than anyone else. You might be a genius at both your music, and in your other career as an auto mechanic, but struggle to write the papers you need to write to pass the business classes you’re taking in preparation for owning your own garage someday. Or you could be gifted in academics overall, but just not great at math. Hiring a tutor in writing or math can help you over those hurdles.
When you don’t seem to learn the way your instructor teaches, a tutor can help
You should be able to reach out to your instructor, and count on them to clarify concepts, break things down, discuss the material taught in class, or offer you general advice in their subject area. But there are times when, through no fault of yours or theirs, your learning needs and their teaching methods just don’t match up. Someone who is strictly a visual and hands-on learner is going to have some trouble in an offline lecture class.
A student who learns best by listening to a lecture, reading, and taking notes may find themselves struggling to follow a teacher who uses a lot of visual aids in class. And while a good teacher will do anything they can to help you, they can’t redesign their entire class for you. A tutor will be able to take the concepts or facts you need to learn, and present them, or help you find resources that present them, in the ways that you learn best.
Hire a tutor when you seem to have missed something you were expected to know in class
Tutors aren’t just for those times when you’re struggling to learn. A tutor can help when you arrive in class and realize there are things you simply haven’t learned. There might be a class most people in your school take before this one, even though it isn’t a prerequisite. A tutor can help catch you up on concepts “everyone” keeps referencing.
In some cases, your teacher may have designed the class with the assumption that everyone would know certain things, or have certain skills, on the first day. If it seems like the whole class falls into this category for you, it may be necessary to transfer to the class below it. But if it’s just a few ideas, concepts, or a set of facts or two, a tutor may be able to help catch you up.
Tutoring can be a way to turn things around if you did not work as hard as you should have in previous classes
As much as we hate to admit it, sometimes the reason we’re struggling in school is our own attitude. If you skipped assignments, ignored your instructor’s lectures, tutorials, outreach, and other material, refused to participate in class discussions, didn’t bother studying for your exams, or just sat there and let everyone else do the work in a group project, your bad grade is indeed your own fault. There’s no getting around that. But there is a way to fix it. A tutor can help you catch up on all those concepts and skills you didn’t feel it was necessary to learn last year, or last term, or last week.
Tutors can help supplement your learning
Deficiency in some form is the most common reason for hiring a tutor, but tutoring is not strictly for those who have fallen behind or struggle in a subject. A tutor can also supplement your learning when things are already going well. They can discuss the topic of your paper with you, offering insight and ideas you may not have thought of or heard about in class. A tutor may be able to recommend, or help you find, quality resources for additional learning in the topic of your course. They may even be able to help you jump ahead a bit, teaching you things you would learn in a more advanced version of the course you are taking.
Enrollment in a course is not necessary to hire a tutor
In order to use tutoring services provided by a school, you will need to be a student, or the parent of a student, at that school. But an independent tutor may be a great resource for those who are largely self-taught. YouTube content creator Lindie Botes is a well-known polyglot. She has taught herself multiple languages, as a hobby. But even someone that devoted to language learning hires a tutor when she chooses a particularly challenging language. You may want to hire a tutor if you, or your child, is doing well in a subject but needs more of a challenge, or if you are teaching yourself, and think you could benefit from some input from an expert in the field.
Tutors can help focus, catch up, or enhance your learning. They can offer insights, input, or feedback you may not get in class. A session with a tutor may even spark an idea for a whole new project, or even a whole new direction in your studies.