I’ve been tutoring for the past three years. Currently, I am a junior at a local university and work with other college students as well as elementary, junior high, and high school students. When I first started tutoring, I had no idea what I was getting into. I thought it was going to be a rewarding and satisfying experience. And it has been. However, it is far more difficult than I ever thought it would be. If you are considering becoming a tutor, there are some things you need to know.
First, I want to reassure you that there are a lot of benefits that come with tutoring. The pay can be one of the biggest advantages. Most tutoring services start around $20 an hour and if you are qualified to instruct in an extremely difficult subject – such as calculus – you may make over $100 an hour. Salaries are even larger if you have a graduate degree.
Another advantage that comes with tutoring (albeit a less tangible one) is the knowledge that you are helping another human being. Unlike some occupations (*cough* telemarketing *cough*), tutoring is extremely fulfilling and meaningful. I feel good about going to work because I know that I’m making someone’s life a little easier.
One more significant benefit to tutoring is that it allows you to learn while you educate. Since many of my students have mental or physical disabilities, I have learned a great deal about both behavioral and physical disorders. I have also learned how to cope with different learning styles and how to motivate students.
With that said, I wouldn’t want you to blindly invest yourself in a profession without understanding the potential downsides. Each age group has its own unique disadvantages.
If you are tutoring elementary, junior high, or even high school grades, you will inevitably end up dealing with the parents as much as the children. Most of the parents I deal with are fairly pleasant; I even got Christmas gifts from some of them. However, you will undoubtedly run into some issues with parents who don’t fully understand what tutoring is. They may expect you to baby sit their kids, to do their work for them, etc.
Another issue that commonly arises among young kids is that they don’t understand the need for tutoring, and therefore consider it to just be another thing that cuts into their free time. It’s difficult to encourage kids to care about their education when all they want to do is go out and play or watch TV. You may be able to win over most of your students, but some will be stubborn.
One difficulty that I have occasionally is incompetent teachers. Now, when I say this, I do not mean to criticize the teaching profession. Most of you care about your students and are working hard on their behalf. However, I still will sometimes run into a teacher who is incorrectly teaching a student something. One student of mine was taught MLA formatting completely wrong. What’s worse is that many teachers feel “competition” with a tutor, which is even more problematic.
If you’re working with college age students, you will face different challenges, especially if you’re working at a tutoring facility run by the college or university. Many students will come in simply because their instructor or professor is offering extra credit for those who get help on their papers. These students don’t think there’s anything wrong with their papers and expect you to just look it over, smile, and give them the thumbs up. Unfortunately, most of papers have poor writing quality, but these students can’t see that.
Another problem is that many students who come in for college tutoring expect to hand over their paper or assignment and have the tutor proofread or do it for them. Unfortunately, tutoring is about teaching someone to better his or her skills in a particular area. If tutors simply fix the problem instead of showing the student how to do it, what is the point of tutoring? The student will never learn how to do it on his or her own.
Tutoring has the potential to be a very gratifying experience. There are definite downsides – as with any job – but if you can handle these disadvantages, tutoring might be a good choice.