Supplementing education with a private tutor

When I was in high school, back when a solid 3.5 and a 1250 (out of 1600) SAT score got you into a great university, tutors were only hired by two types of students. First, the overly anxious kid who decided to only apply to one college-Harvard. Second, the kid that was truly struggling academically and couldn’t get by without a tutor. A few students had a tutor for one semester or for one subject to alleviate the stress of being in high school. Those days, I’m afraid, are long gone.

private-tutor-irvineIt’s 2014 and everybody has a tutor. Not everybody will tell you that they have a tutor, but they do. There are outreach tutors that drive 30+ miles from their home to work through government programs, there are elite tutors who charge an arm and a leg (and provide results worth their 3 digit hourly fee) and there is everyone in between. So what has changed in the last 15 years?

Many articles that I read blame the teachers. I refuse to do this. That would be like blaming a hotel manager because your vacation was ruined by a hurricane. Blame the hurricane. I have seen teachers stay after school for hours offering workshops where no one showed up. I have seen teachers simply skip lunch so that they could mentor the kid that needs extra help. There simply are not enough hours in the day for today’s teachers to help all 40 kids individually. If teachers don’t follow the State mandated curriculum, they get fired. Again, blame the hurricane.

Regardless of whether your child’s teacher is awesome or not, or whether you live in an affluent school district or not, the reality of 2014 is that, to compete, your child needs a tutor. Whatever is lacking, and for whatever reason, tutors are here to fill those gaps. They are here to find a solution.

There are several types of tutors but the main three are: Test prep (SAT/ACT), College level for high school (AP classes), and general homework help.

Test prep

Getting a test prep tutor is a given. If your child is starting their junior year this fall, you should be looking for a tutor ASAP. If your child is going into senior year, I recommend that you arrange for a tutor to come to the house tomorrow because October is right around the corner. For rising sophomores, take the PSAT as soon as you can (our private Irvine PSAT tutors are great) and call a tutor by the end of the calendar year. I have seen many a junior year ruined due to excessive SAT prep. Start early, take the test and be done. If they need to take it twice (most do) then there is still time. In the past 10 years, I have not met a single student who walked in to take the SAT (READ – “8 SAT Essay Tips“) and get the score they needed without help from a private educator.

College level for high school

AP classes are insane. The textbooks are written in a dry fashion that jumbles information together. However, this is not unfair (READ – “Last Minute AP Study Guide“). They are, after all, a college level textbook. College students are expected to be able to skim through countless passages and chapters and quickly determine which information is important and which is not. The problem is that a 20-year-old’s mind is fully developed and capable of doing this while a 15-year-old’s mind is still growing. That 15-year-old needs an expert adult to help them comb through the information, present it in a way that makes sense, and learn which information is just there as ‘fluff’. I do not recommend signing your child up for an AP class without arranging for a tutor ahead of time. Orange County AP tutors book up really early. By the first of March, most of the expert tutors are filled up until June and so you are relying on the possibility that the tutor completed tutoring with a student who took the SAT in December. Tutors that work on a full year basis are usually booked by October 1st.

General homework help

Many tutors work with students who need help a couple of times a week or even every day. I have talked to tutors who have told me that they have only 3 clients but their schedule is full. They go to each home for 90 minutes Monday to Friday. Not every family needs a tutor every day. Many students do just fine with a 90 minute sessions twice a week, especially if they only need help in one or two subjects.

grade-papers-tutorI’ve talked to many families who feel slightly embarrassed that their kid needs a tutor. No embarrassment is necessary. Nearly every kid has a tutor off and on or perhaps all the time. We, as a society, are asking so very much of our kids and it is expected that they will need some extra help. The sheer volume of homework, starting in elementary school and continuing until graduation day, is astonishing.

A lot of tutoring is based on competition. Think about a kid who has a 130 IQ (intellectually gifted), is getting straight A’s and takes their school work seriously. Then, think about the kid down the street, who has the same IQ, the same grades and the same motivation, but this one has a private tutor. Which one is getting that final spot at Stanford?

Further support:

Tutoring and its benefits

Benefits of tutoring

Private tutoring: pros and cons

Why top students hire tutors

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