How to Communicate With Your Student Tutor

By Christine Ascher on May 23, 2017

Having a tutor when you’re in college can be a great resource, and the easiest place to find a tutor is often among your fellow students.

There are countless benefits to having a student tutor: they’re on your campus so it’s convenient for both of you to meet up, they understand the pressures and expectations of college life, and they’ve learned the material you’re being tutored in recently, so it’s fresh in their minds.

However, in order to get the most out of your tutoring sessions, you’ll need to have a comfortable student-tutor relationship. While having a student tutor might sound easier than having someone older, you might find that it feels a bit awkward to be tutored by someone who is around your age.

Get past the awkwardness and improve your student-tutor relationship with these tips.

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Set the tone for your relationship

When you have a student tutor, you might feel like you have to be friends. After all, you’re classmates and have probably shared similar experiences. However, if you’re not comfortable with being on such informal terms with your tutor, it’s okay to keep the relationship on a more formal level. The goal is to optimize your learning, and it might be better to keep your relationship more professional so that you’re not unnecessarily distracted during your sessions.

On the other hand, if you’ve established a good rapport with your tutor, don’t feel like you have to be stiff around them. If you’re comfortable joking around during your sessions, this will undoubtedly make them more pleasurable. You might also feel more comfortable asking questions if you’re more casual with your tutor.

However, your relationship will vary based on the person so wait to see how you get along before you try to force a casual relationship.

Make sure to treat them with respect

Often when students are dealing with a tutor their same age, they expect a little more slack; for instance, you might be more tempted to ask them to give you the answer to a question rather than working it out. Remember that, however young, your tutor is trying to do their job, and be extra conscious that you’re not taking advantage of them due to their age.

Being a student tutor to one’s peers can be difficult, as it’s difficult to obtain the same level of respect that would be given to someone older. You can easily improve your relationship with your tutor by giving them the same level of respect that you would afford to someone older and more experienced.

Ask them about their own experience

One way to bond with your tutor, and to learn some information that might be useful to you in your classes, is by asking them about what their own experience was. Even if they haven’t taken exactly the same classes, they might be able to give you some useful tips for how to study and what to include when writing papers or taking exams.

Just learning about some of their study habits might help you improve your own. Given they’re sharing similar experiences, they’re a valuable resource, not just for improving your understanding of course material, but for learning how to be a better student all around.

Don’t make it all about you

When you have a student tutor, keep in mind that they’ll have their own classes and activities on their mind. When you’re being tutored, it can be easy to get caught up in making the session all about you — which, of course, in the academic sense, it is.

However, remember to ask your tutor how they are as well. Showing an interest in them, beyond just how they can help you, will make them feel much more appreciated and will help you get to know them. Not only will you both feel more comfortable, you might also find that you have a lot in common. In addition to being tutor and tutee, you might even become friends.

Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions

Sometimes when you have a student tutor, you might feel embarrassed about not understanding certain concepts or knowing the answer to a question, considering you are roughly their age. Remember that, ultimately, your tutor’s goal is to help you learn. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even when you feel that they’re too simple. Your tutor is there to help you learn, so make their job easier by letting them know what you don’t understand and thereby how they can do so most effectively.

Be forgiving of their mistakes

When you have a student tutor, you can’t expect the same level of expertise as you would find from someone older. While there are many benefits to having a student tutor, one of the downsides is that they might still be learning and adjusting to teaching. It’s understandable for them to make mistakes once in a while, so be forgiving if these occur.

While this shouldn’t happen all the time, understand that your tutor isn’t perfect. Being angry or judgmental when they make a mistake will only make them feel less comfortable — and it could lead to even more errors.

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