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Making tutoring work for you

Many students who are having difficulty with particular subjects hear "get a tutor!" 
So, you go out and start looking. However, if you have never hired a tutor or worked with one, making the experience work for you can be a challenge. 
What is a student to do?
 
1)  Find the tutor that is right for you.  You cannot tell everything from a profile.  Someone might have years of experience in  the classroom, but that person might not be as effective one-on-one.  Some people have very little experience, but know how to impart the information they do have.  Meet with the tutor for a get-to-know you session.  Ask questions about the person's experience.  And, let that person ask you questions. 
Bring past work to the first session, as well as syllabi and other information from the class.  This will help the tutor see if s/he is comfortable working with the material. 
 
2)  Don't necessarily base everything on the first informal session.  If you are not quite sure about how you will work with the tutor, but the s/he knows the material well, give another session a try. 
 
3)  Always be prepared for your session.  You are paying a significant amount of money for this person's time.  Don't waste your money and the tutor's time.  Bring the books you need, assignments, a pen/computer, etc. 
 
4)  Have specific questions.  Saying "I don't understand the assignment" is not much help.  Exactly what do you not understand?  Is it the wording of the assignment?  What information is being asked for?  The more specific you are about what you are having difficulty with, the better your tutor can help you.
 
5)  Listen.  Listen carefully.  Focus on the material.  Be prepared for the time you spend with your tutor to be intense.  You have a limited amount of time and your tutor is trying to pack in as much as possible.  If you are not listening or are distracted, you will not get the information you need.
 
6)  If you need a 10 minute break, ask for one.  Sometimes you are trying to deal with so much information, you need a few minutes to stretch, get a drink, etc.  Then, come back ready to work.
 
7)  Be courteous.  It can be easy to get frustrated in tutoring sessions because you are working with concepts that are difficult for you - that is why you have a tutor!  And, tutors understand that you can get frustrated.  Just don't take that frustration out on your tutor. 
Saying "please" and "thank you" is also advised.  Your tutor does not have to be there.  Yes, you are paying for the session, but your tutor can decide that s/he does not want to work with someone who is rude. 
 
8)  Follow the instructions your tutor gives you.  Your tutor might tell you to take notes, highlight certain information, write down definitions, etc.  Do that.  Tutors know what study skills help make students successful.  If you don't follow those instructions, why are you hiring a tutor?
 
9)  You might need to explain certain things to your tutor.  If your school uses a classroom management program like Blackboard, be prepared to possibly explain how it works.  While many tutors, especially on the university level, have used classroom management programs, many have not.  This does not mean a tutor is not qualified, it means that s/he has not had the same experience you have. 
 
10)  If there is something you do not understand, ask questions.  When I was teaching, there was nothing more frustrating than asking "Does anyone have questions?" and having the class shake their heads "no" when half of them should have had their hands in the air.  If your tutor explains something and you don't understand the explanation, ask a questions, or lots of them. 
 
You get out of tutoring sessions what you put into them.  The vast majority of tutors are tutoring because they enjoy it, not because they have to do it.  We enjoy working with students one-on-one or in small groups.  Your tutor can be an incredible support system and source of encouragement.  You have hired a tutor, so get everything you can out of the sessions.  You will not regret it!
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