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How to Make Sure Your Tutor Works for You

Your tutor should be able to answer your questions and help you learn to solve problems without their help. They also need to enjoy working with you.

Knowing which tutor to choose should be easy when you have the added stress of surviving a difficult course. A tutor should make your life easier when you get the right one for two reasons. They have a mastery over the subject you’re struggling with. Plus, they should have the teaching skills to adapt their plans and approaches on the spot according to the student’s need.

What Your Tutor Should Do For You

The typical tutor will walk into a session with an idea of what the student is working on in class. But, the tutor likely has no idea what the session will become by the end because it depends on what the student needs. That’s where teaching skills come in: tutors should be able to adapt to student needs.

Some sessions can have us looking deeper into your essay to determine what its fundamental issues are. Other sessions could have us going over readings to make sure you understands them before (or after) you’ve started your essay.

What Else Your Tutor Should Do For You

Beyond mastering writing and teaching skills, however, your tutor need be a person. There are lots of smart people that cannot communicate that to others, which is fine and also a good reason to not be a tutor. Your tutor should be someone who makes you feel comfortable with asking questions because that’s the only way you can learn. Tutoring should adapt to the student and that can only happen if you feel comfortable enough to say what you need help with. Or, if you talk to your tutor enough they can figure that out for you.

The moment your tutor becomes scary to approach with questions is the same moment they are no longer the right tutor for you. This might be someone you admire, befriend, and value; none of that matters the moment you can’t ask them questions.

What You Should Look for in a Tutor

Expertise

Your tutor should know their stuff, specifically the stuff you need help with. If you need help with more than one subject, there are a variety of tutors who can help you (depending on grade level). It’s worth remembering that the more subjects in which you need help and the higher the grade level, the more you will need compensate your tutor for their knowledge and time.

Happy to Help

Your tutor should be a people person. They can be introverted or extroverted. You should look for a tutor who enjoys helping you (because that’s their job). Yes, your tutor should be able to answer your questions and help you learn to solve problems without their help. But, a tutor won’t be right for you until they enjoy working with you.

Risk-free Introduction

Before you commit to paying them money, get them to meet with you for free. Good tutors will understand this is the best option for both of you because tutoring a student you don’t work well with is painful. Use this time to get to know them and talk to them on a friendly level; avoid bringing up specifics about your courses. You should certainly discuss what you’re struggling with because this a point of connection between you and your tutor. However, don’t talk about your specific assignments until you’ve seen whether you two are compatible. Register how you feel around this person.

As hard as it is to focus on anything other the class you’re struggling with, you need to be sure you can trust and befriend your tutor. Otherwise, it won’t matter how much you struggle; they won’t help you without adding to your stress. It’s important that you take the time to make sure this person will work for you (because that’s exactly what they’ll be doing).

Reflect on Previous Tutoring Experience

Lastly, you may never have worked with a tutor before and that’s perfectly fine. But, if you have, take that invaluable experience and reflect on what worked best with them. Consider what didn’t work for you as a learner or person. Think about how you want your tutor to approach a session, bearing in mind they might have a better idea based on their experience.

If this feels like an overwhelming task, then rest assured that every experienced tutor will have an approach they take to each session and student. If you’ve never been tutored before, you do not have to know to approach private tutoring; it is not your job. Though, this might be a good indication that having an experienced tutor will work best for you.

On the other hand, take whatever experience you have being tutored in the past and use it to think about what you might want in the future. For instance, you might prefer live feedback on all of your written work. Or, you might want your tutor to have read through before. Keep in mind that this approach might cost more since they will be doing work outside of your tutoring time. While all of this information is useful to consider and possibly shape future tutoring sessions, it’s equally useful to know when your tutor can draw on their experience with other students to shift the direction of the session to better fit your needs.

Your Tutor is Your Friend

Your tutor should make you feel comfortable; you need to be able to ask question after question until you get the help you’re paying for. Your tutor should be knowledgeable and make the knowledge easy to understand without making you feel less than them. When you seek out tutoring, you have to approach any tutor with the understanding that everyone has different strengths.

The hardest students to work with are the ones who only see their weaknesses. These same students have spoken multiple languages, grown up in different countries, and majored in the hard sciences. Part of tutoring can be developing student confidence. It’s hard to believe in yourself when you can’t do something. But, it’s equally hard to remember all of the things you can do that you should focus on just as much.

Asking for Help is Hard

If you’re not used to needing help or asking for help, then seeking out tutoring might make you feel uncomfortable–and that’s normal. In my experience, part of tutoring is helping your students see their potential, strengths, and intelligence. But, it’s important to work on that within yourself as well.

Your first meeting with your tutor should help determine if this person help with your stress; if they don’t relieve that anxiety, find a different tutor.

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