Parents - Forget About the Price Tag!

Parents, can you really put a price tag on your child’s education? Well, believe it or not, most parents do think that money is an important factor when choosing a tutor. I have some advice for you parents.

I fully recognize the fact that times are tough and the economy is not what it used to be. But if you hire a tutor that asks for under $20 per hour do you really think that’s going to be the best tutor for your child just because they come at an economically appealing price? I’m sorry, but no. You do, however, want to find a tutor who may have posted a higher price and then find a way to negotiate with them. You’d be surprised, but some of those really costly tutors will reduce their prices for their clients if they can.

You have to realize though is that tutors need to make a living too. I don’t want to say that a high school tutor will most likely be horrible, but one with more teaching, tutoring, and life experience is more desirable for your child. Another thing I have to question is the abilities of a tutor who only asks for $10 or $15 per hour. I feel like, by doing that, a tutor is selling himself or herself way short. Are they that rich that they can afford to be that cheap or is it that they aren’t qualified enough? Maybe they are just so desperate to gain clientele and therefore want to make themselves more marketable. Whatever the answer is, if you choose to go the cheaper route you may be shorting your child of their education.

You also want to look at the subject you are inquiring about. Let’s say for instance, that you want a tutor to help your child with K-8 reading skills. My advice is, go with a college student who is getting a B.A. in Elementary Education, Literacy, or even a certificate in elementary teaching. These tutors might be the best choice, because their knowledge of the current standards are a bit fresher and they are specifically being trained to tutor your child. You can save money here and pay them a range of $15-$20 per hour. A current elementary school teacher (who is licensed) is also a good choice because they are regularly in the classroom with children like yours and subject to professional development that is geared pedagogically in the direction your child is in. You might look to pay these individuals $25-$45 per hour; they work hard all day with elementary level students and still have the time and energy to deal with more students – don’t be stingy! Someone with a Master’s Degree, lots of tutoring experience, and a current certification is also good, but most will want at least $50 per hour because of the extra degree. To be honest, I’m in that category, but I don’t think individuals like me may be the best choice. It’s true, someone with all three will work just as hard – but they might not be presently in a school, or their knowledge of current literacy may be out of date. This is why you need to investigate your options carefully.

For the subject of English I would use a reverse method of hiring a tutor. While a college student may be cheaper, they have not completed their English education. You want to hire someone with either a Master’s or a Doctorate who is certified to teach all areas of the subject, including writing. You can expect to pay a person in an M.A program $30 per hour, with an M.A. $50 per hour, and a PhD or EdD over $100 per hour. Your best bet is to go with a person with an M.A. , a current teaching license, experience in the field, and even some college teaching experience. Why do I say that – well if you are looking for a 7-12 instructor or better yet a 9-12 instructor, the skill sets are to prepare them for college. A successful college professor has to gear their students as though they’ve had poor training in earlier levels and work within their content requirements. College professors will whip your students into shape, challenge them, and provide them with the necessary tools they need to pass their exams, write their papers, and make their way through college. Your cost is only at $50 per hour for a lifetime of learning.

Math, Science, History – depends on the area, but you want someone with a lot of experience. Lower level areas of these courses can be taught by a college student, but remember, a person in an M.A. program in that subject area or one that has completed their degree will be your best choice because of the training they receive in their area. Based on the scale I gave you for the reading skills, I would say you could follow the same idea of cost when it comes to tutoring in these subjects.. I will say though, that those with higher degrees should tutor Statistics, Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and courses such as Ancient Civilization. You want someone really fluent in those areas.

Special Needs – if your child has disabilities, whether they be learning, physical, or mental, you should pay your tutor a bit more. These tutors not only have to work within their content, but also negotiate their lessons based on what your child’s needs are. That’s a lot of juggling. You want to find a tutor who has a lot of experience working with special needs, whether they have a degree in psychology or they presently work with students like your child –this is important. A college student studying in this area might not be the most qualified for this position. However, if they have been through an education program or a psychology degree, it is more than likely that they’ve been in the field and have dealt with all sorts of issues. These are the people you want. Parents don’t be stingy if this is the case – pay that tutor at least $50 per hour.

Cooking, Swimming, Music, etc – same advice as above. Find someone with the degree, license, or experience in that field. Pay them commensurate with experience.

TESTS. I cannot stress this enough you need to pay a lot for tests. Whether it be the ELA exams, PSATs, AP Exams, SAT’s, ACT’s, MCATS, LSATS, etc., you can expect to pay a minimum of $75 per hour for a tutor. Why is that – well, you want your child to do well on these exams and so these tutors will apply themselves a lot more to ensure your child is prepared for that test. You remember the line from Field of Dreams; “if you build it, they will come”? – well if you pay them, they will come, be consistent, come with activities, and work your child to their potential.

On a final note, I’d like to remind you that I’m not just a struggling tutor, but also all my life I struggled in school subjects. My mother was a single working mother with a child who didn’t have enough time or experience to work with me. She paid $100 per hour for most of my tutors because she felt it was really important for me to only have the best. Also, she screened every tutor that she considered very carefully. A tutor who gives you a free assessment is also a good choice, because they have interest in you and your child and want to see if they are well fit and can provide what your child needs. If a tutor is not good, you need to let them go right away and quickly find someone else who is a good fit. In the words of singer Jesse J - it’s not about the money, money, money….we just want to make the world dance, forget about the price tag” – in other words, if you want make your child successful you should do so at all costs. Being a tutor and having a mom who sacrificed everything to ensure my educational needs were met has taught me the importance of this. I will someday have children of my own and even if I can’t afford it, I will find a way to manage this so that they can have the best education possible.


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