Deciding which tutor is your perfect fit is important…and can be challenging. On Wyzant alone, there are more than 60,000 active tutors listed, offering their expertise in more than 275 subjects. The possibilities can feel overwhelming. However, with some forethought, you can narrow down your choices to be sure you’re working with a tutor who has the right experience, philosophy, schedule, and price for your unique needs. Asking the right questions makes all the difference in choosing the tutor who will guide you to success.
We’ve created the following lists that anyone can use to help them connect with the tutor who’s got the right stuff, whatever the goal.
Experience and Expertise
Determining a tutor’s experience is perhaps the most obvious – and most important – place to begin. For most, the ability to teach subject-specific content is a skill that needs to be honed and developed, usually for several years. Subject mastery, as well as details about length of teaching or tutoring experience, are crucial bullet points on any tutor’s resume.
Begin a conversation by simply introducing yourself and your goal, then asking how long a tutor has taught the subject in which you’re seeking guidance. Be sure to ask for important details such as degrees, licenses, certifications, and the names of other organizations or schools where they’ve taught. If you’re looking for a tutor who can help with learning a professional skill like Excel, Project Management, or Tableau, ask about how they learned those skills, and where/how they have applied them in the real world. Don’t be afraid to inquire about specifics like specializations, examples of the tutor’s experience with other students who had issues similar to your own, and even past examples of tutoring materials that could be relevant to your goal.
- How long have you been tutoring?
- Where have you tutored, and in what context?
- What are your qualifications, certifications, or credentials?
- Where can I find reviews from your past students?
- Do you have references or letters of recommendation?
- Can you tell me about your expertise in this subject?
- Have you worked before with students with a similar issue as mine?
- Where did you learn this subject? How have you used it in your profession?
- What’s your track record?
- What if I or my student have an exceptionality? Are you experienced in helping students with learning differences?
Asking to hear a tutor’s personal approach and philosophy will help you determine if they’re a good fit with your own learning style and personality. A good tutor will have the capacity to reflect upon their own methods and share them in a way their potential students can easily understand.
Chatting with a tutor about their approach, distinct teaching style, and methods will help you to get to know them more personally. That may directly affect how well you’ll be able to work together. For example: a writing tutor who simply edits your work asynchronously with no instruction likely won’t be as deeply helpful as one who is focused on developing a customized plan to maximize the time (and money) you spend in pursuit of your progress.
Consider asking yourself some questions: Do you like this tutor? Share any common interests or experiences? Do you find them inspiring? Are you comfortable talking to them? Tutoring success requires a strong foundation of trust, so cultivating a rapport and relationship can be the first step toward deciding if you’ve found the tutor for you.
- What makes you a great tutor?
- What can you tell me about your teaching philosophy?
- What strategies do you employ when starting work with a new student?
- Can you tell me about your specific methods?
- When you last tutored this subject, how did the experience change your current approach?
- In what ways will you get a sense of my unique needs?
- How will my unique needs affect your tutoring approach?
- What things can I do to help make our sessions productive?
- How do you measure progress?
- How can I reinforce what I learned outside of sessions?
Whether you only have time to attend tutoring sessions late at night or on weekends, need a tutor who can help during peak weekday hours, or are considering working with a tutor in a different time zone than you, scheduling is, of course, key to success. Clearly communicate your scheduling needs with a potential tutor, and don’t be afraid to move on to different options if a tutor cannot meet them.
- What’s your availability?
- Do you prefer in-person or online sessions?
- Can you reliably tutor at times my schedule allows?
- Are you willing to set up a repeating session time reserved for our sessions?
- How should I contact you if I need to change the time of a session?
- (For in-person tutors) Where will tutoring sessions take place?
- (For online tutors) Do you use the Wyzant online learning tool, or some other platform for online lessons?
- Will you be unavailable at any time during the period in which I plan to take lessons?
Rates and Policies
When hiring an independent tutor, it should come as no surprise that pricing will vary greatly. The hourly rate a tutor charges for their services can depend on a number of factors: your specific needs, the tutor’s availability, experience and qualifications, credentials, where you live, where the tutor lives, the complexity of given subject matter, and many others. Many tutors listed on Wyzant routinely offer reduced-cost or discounted sessions to students who inquire about them, so even though discussing cost can feel uncomfortable, be sure you’re asking the right questions. Tutors expect to talk about money with potential students.
- How much do you charge per-hour?
- Are you willing to negotiate your hourly fee?
- Do you offer any discounts for multiple lessons or other situations?
- What is your cancellation policy?
- Do you offer make-up sessions if one of us has to miss one?
- Are there other fees (for travel or materials, for example)?
No matter how careful you are when choosing a tutor, sometimes the relationship doesn’t pan out. If you feel that you’ve chosen the wrong tutor, don’t be afraid to make a change. Remember: the focus of tutoring is you and your goals.
Remember: at Wyzant, your first hour with a new tutor – any new tutor – is covered by the Good Fit Guarantee.
Before you switch, however, consider if you’ve allowed yourself enough sessions to be totally sure your needs could be better served with a different instructor. It’s important to realize that working with a tutor is not an instant fix to your learning struggles. It takes time for any new tutoring partnership to reach its full potential, so if your situation allows, try to have a few sessions before making the decision to move on.