4 Things to Know Before Hiring a Tutor

By Kaitlin Hurtado on July 2, 2017

Sometimes you find yourself approaching midterms or finals and realizing that you have yet to fully grasp the course’s content, even if you’ve been going to every class and putting in extra studying in the library.

Before putting yourself in more trouble by trying to go through the content alone or throwing in the towel, try hiring a tutor that can help you learn the content you are struggling with. Before hiring a tutor, here are four things you should consider when picking the right tutor for you.

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1) Flexibility and availability

First and foremost, you need to decide how much tutoring you need. Will you be needing one tutoring session a week, or more? You should make it clear how much tutoring you need upfront because you don’t want your tutor to expect to meet you only once a week, and no more than that. Are they going to have a packed schedule with other clients, so much that fitting you in another session or two won’t be up for discussion?

You also want to know how flexible they are with scheduling tutoring sessions. Will they be able to reschedule if something important comes up? Or is every tutoring session at a fixed time, and if you can’t make the tutoring session it won’t be able to be made up? It is also a good idea to inquire if they are available for impromptu tutoring sessions if a big exam is coming up or if the last session didn’t get you to the level of understanding you wanted to achieve.

The more flexible your tutor is, the better.

2) Location 

The next thing you should consider is the location of your tutoring sessions and/or your tutor. Depending on your tutor’s location, the tutoring sessions can take place in person or online via Skype (or even both). If it is in person, the location of the tutoring sessions can be a deciding factor. If the tutoring sessions will be held at a location further from where you are, consider if the commute is worth it or if you would be better off looking for another tutor closer to you.

Figure out an exact location to hold your tutoring sessions before you actually hire the tutor. If you are hiring a tutor through a company (even through your university’s tutoring center), the location of tutoring sessions may already be decided at the company’s location. If you are hiring an independent tutor, figure out if they will be coming to you, if you are coming to them, or if you are to meet at another location.

3) Pricing

A major factor in your final decision of which tutor to hire is the tutor’s pricing. If they are too expensive, the cost of tutoring may not fit in your college budget. If the upfront price the tutor offers is too high for your liking, try to negotiate a lower price or a discount if you are willing to pay for a specific amount of hours of tutoring upfront.

It is also a good idea to inquire about how and when you are expected to pay. Is the price set by the hour or by the session? Are you going to be paying every session or will you be paying for a larger amount upfront/at a later date?

4) Past experience and credibility 

Regardless of whether the tutor is willing to meet you whenever or whether they are the least expensive you could find, you should find a tutor that will actually help you learn the content you are struggling with. You should know that they are qualified for the job before hiring them. Learn their credentials — have they taken the course you are struggling with? Do they have a lot of experience working with the subject they are offering to tutor you in? If they are students that have taken the exact course in the past, politely ask them if they could provide their experience in the class, from class involvement to their final grade.

You also want to ask if there are any of their past clients willing to provide a testimony to evaluate the tutoring you are expecting from the prospective tutor. If the tutor says they have a lot of experience with a high success rate, but no clients to provide any testimony, you are better off finding another tutor that is more credible and has concrete evidence of their success as a tutor.

As a final precaution, you should get a feel for the tutor’s personality/tutoring style. If they are unfriendly or make you uncomfortable, it will be harder for you to approach them for help if you feel like they are unapproachable or not available to help you with any questions. At the same time, you want someone that will be professional and be able to keep tutoring sessions efficient enough for you to get the understanding you need.

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