Important Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing a Tutor

In a matter of months, the 2019-20 school year has morphed into something none of us could have expected. With schools and universities closed due to the coronavirus threat, education has transformed almost instantaneously from an in-classroom to an online experience. Forced to learn on the fly, teachers and students are still striving to get a grasp on “remote learning,” while parents are still asking themselves just how school is supposed to be done in the home without any teachers around.

Although the radical changes imposed on the education system stunned everyone, they simply accelerated an already developing trend.

For more than a decade now, institutions at every level have been harnessing the power of the internet to offer online courses. In the same period that schools were developing “distance learning,” independent educators have tapped into that same power source to offer online tutoring services.

As the COVID-19 shutdown continues, more and more parents are finding online tutors to be a valuable resource for struggling students in their homes.

1. Begin by assessing students’ needs and goals

Why do students need tutoring? Before you begin your search, consider what you hope to gain from the tutoring experience. From logistics and budget to subject matter and teaching methods, putting these goals into words will help you find your perfect match. Start by asking yourself the following questions:

What is my availability?

Consider how often you envision meeting, where you are able to meet, and what you can afford. Being honest about how much time you can devote to your tutor ahead of time will definitely make your search easier. Online tutoring options can help you fit in lessons when they’re most convenient for you and your children.

What type of credentials am I looking for in a tutor?

Credentials are important, but so are teaching experience and methodology. Keeping your options open can often help you find the right fit. Remember that being knowledgeable about a subject area doesn’t always mean someone can explain it well. On Wyzant, you will be able to research key information on tutors such as level of education, teaching experience, hours tutored, and student rating. You’ll also be able to read testimonials from students to get a stronger grasp of a tutor’s competence and expertise.

What type of tutoring do I really need?

Did you underperform on a recent test, or are you struggling to get by in class? If so, you’re probably looking for remedial subject tutoring to help you learn and retain a specific set of concepts that are holding you back.

Maybe you’re fighting to keep your head above water in general. In that case, you may want a tutor to fill a support role, offering extra help in the most challenging subject areas while providing general support for the duration of a project, semester, or school year.

Is your child just not being challenged enough in school? An enrichment tutor can help you tackle more advanced subjects outside the classroom or maintain a high level of performance in a course.

If your child is in high school, you are most likely worried about standardized tests on the horizon such as the SAT, ACT, or state exams.

Or perhaps you’re an adult studying for the GED, GRE, ASVAB, or TEAS. Whatever your test, there tutors out there specifically trained to help with test preparation and strategy, both to help you increase your scores and reduce the stress of studying.

What are my expectations?

Are you expecting to see improvement in grades or scores? Maybe you’re more interested in homework help? Are you seeking motivation or boost in confidence? Looking to get a promotion at work? If you don’t have a time frame for your goals, make sure you set one.

How would I describe my learning style?

Consider the styles and strategies that have worked for you in the past, as well as those that haven’t. Try to match your learning styles to one of the qualified tutors available.

What extra help does my student need during remote learning?

With students doing all their learning and work from home, they may need specific help from an online tutoring expert. Most parents who are homeschooling right now need some assistance keeping up, and they can use an ally in their endeavor.

Once you’ve settled on a tutor you want to work with, the key to developing a strong working relationship will be communication. Make sure your tutor knows what “progress” and “success” mean to you. Understanding your short and long-term goals will allow you both to focus on the task at hand, and will help your tutor plan lessons that meet your needs or the needs of your students.

2. Understand the benefits of tutoring

What are the benefits of tutoring? It all starts with the one-on-one relationship that a tutor can provide. Even the best teachers just don’t have the time to provide every student with personalized instruction, but skilled tutors can create customized instruction plans for each of their students.

Under the structure of remote learning, parents may want to lean heavily on someone familiar with online tutoring. Homeschooling is exhausting, so parents need a reliable tutor who can provide the assistance they cannot. For students who are actually thriving during this time, an online tutor can help them realize their full potential.

How does tutoring help? The primary goals of any tutoring are to help students improve their grades, prepare for tests, attain greater understanding, develop skills, and build confidence. While nothing can replace the special bond between students and teachers in schools, tutors can develop unique relationships with students that go beyond simple academic help. An experienced and versatile tutor can become a mentor who provides guidance in multiple subjects and advice in areas outside the realm of education.

3. Consider the advantages of online tutoring

Why is online tutoring so popular? In just the past five years, the market size of online tutoring has increased at a faster rate than online retail, growing an average of 6.2% per year in that time. By November 2019, approximately 65% of all lessons logged on Wyzant were administered online. Wyzant CEO Andrew Geant listed three main reasons for the rapid growth of the online tutoring market:

  1. It’s more convenient for everyone involved with no travel time or expense required.
  2. With more tutors to choose from, it’s easier to find the perfect fit, whether based on subject expertise, availability, learning style, or other dimensions.
  3. Online learning technology and broadband access continue to rapidly improve.

Under the current set of circumstances, of course, online tutoring has become the norm for the time being. Not only are there many companies providing or facilitating tutoring services, each one of those organizations offers thousands of tutors to choose from. It may be helpful to begin with a recent analysis of the various services. Once you land on one, you can begin your search for the perfect tutor.

Distance learning has created a demand for more online tutors, thus giving you more options to choose from. With the power of more sophisticated online platforms at one’s disposal, an online tutor can offer an experience more similar to in-person tutoring than ever before. Using the tools on Wyzant, tutors and students are able to see and hear each other, write and draw on the whiteboard, view assignments, edit text, and even code computer programs. Notes and text can be saved directly from the platform, and you even have the option of having your sessions recorded in case you need to review anything later on. Tutors submit a summary for every session, thus enabling you to track your children’s progress.

4. Develop a thorough screening process

How can you find a qualified tutor? Defining what you’re looking for is the first step: now it’s time to find an instructor who matches those needs. When you’re talking to prospective tutors, you’ll want to be able to quickly assess which could be the right fit. Depending on your needs, there are a host of questions to consider asking. Here are a few to guide your tutor selection process.

  • What are your qualifications? Checking credentials and asking for references is a good first instinct, but Wyzant takes care of that step for you by providing over 10 million lesson ratings and reviews from former students. Compare profiles to see which ones feel like a match for you.
  • What is your availability? While tutors usually have their availabilities posted on their profiles, those schedules are often quite fluid and subject to sudden change. It’s best to clarify which time slots are regularly available so that you can lock in the right tutor on a recurring basis.
  • How much do you charge? Hourly rates are always prominently placed on profiles, but there may be room for negotiation. It never hurts to ask if a tutor might consider a lower rate, especially during COVID-19 restrictions. Keep in mind also that many tutors offer different rates for online and in-person tutoring.
  • What is your teaching philosophy? Depending on the subject matter, you may be interested in a tutor’s approach to breaking down and explaining difficult concepts. Knowing how a tutor plans to approach your sessions can give you an idea of whether their teaching style will match your learning style.
  • Why do you tutor? If you’d like to get to know a candidate further, this question can help you understand how tutoring fits into that person’s lifestyle, and may give you more insight into his or her motivation to teach and help others.

5. Identify which online tutor works best for your budget

How much is private tutoring? Now more than ever, money is a huge factor in choosing a tutor. With many parents working reduced hours or laid off, budgetary concerns play a significant role in the selection process. To save you the trouble of looking online for affordable tutors, Wyzant allows you to search for and request candidates offering hourly rates that fit your budget.

The right tutor is a couple clicks away. Now that you have the know-how to choose the right online tutor, all that’s left to do is begin your search.

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