General Question

Jeruba's avatar

Subject-matter expertise aside, what do I need to know in order to tutor college students?

Asked by Jeruba (52938points) June 24th, 2009

I’m looking ahead to having some free time, and I am thinking of using my subject-matter knowledge in a teaching capacity by taking on a small number of tutoring clients. My professional role all along has had a teaching and coaching aspect, so I am not new to that, but I have never been a classroom teacher. I presume I would also be working from the student’s own lessons and course materials. What else would I need to know? What other considerations should I have in mind?

And—any idea about going rates?

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13 Answers

Steven0512's avatar

Get the payment (CASH) up front, then teach.

MrItty's avatar

You can’t do the work for them. Be careful of the balance between teaching/explaining and doing it for them. I was a tutor in college for an undergrad class, and at one point, two of my students were both accused of cheating in the class, because their code looked too similar – because they were both using my coding style. I had to go to the prof and explain it to him myself.

Darwin's avatar

Check around – There are tutoring services that can do all the accepting of payment, 1099 paperwork, etc. and who can pre-vet the students so your risk of non-paying strange people is reduced. That is what my SIL did – she was a physicist working on top secret stuff who got laid off when the grant didn’t get renewed.

If you are up to it, late night cram sessions for tests paid her the most. She is naturally a night person so the timing was good for her, she had very little competition, and the rate was about $30 to $40 an hour, and even more for group sessions.

You also need to decide if you will do the traveling or expect the student to do the traveling. My SIL chose to go to the students, in large part because so much was always going on at home that it would have been too distracting.

If you don’t go with an established service, contact the teachers of those subjects at the various schools you will be marketing to, and get to know them well-enough that they will recommend you.

Bobbydavid's avatar

Passion and enthusiasm. I’d like to think that when my children attend school that their teachers are there for much more than a payslip.

hug_of_war's avatar

Many schools have free tutoring services, so highlight what is so spiffy about your service when trying to entice students.

msright1981's avatar

A good knowledge of the subject is always important, but not as important of being able to deliver that information to your student. I know many professor who are genius in their field, but no matter how hard they try they can present what they know correctly. So being able to present the information in an easy manner is the most important bit of it.

YARNLADY's avatar

Arrange a meeting with the school counselor or principle. They can give you some good pointers. Here in my area, we have professional tutoring businesses that operate out of several of the little strip malls. They are very expensive.

Edit: Here is one (K – 12) that charges $55 per week – three 30 minute sessions.

Various private tutors are listed in the classified. You could find some there and talk to them.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I ditto @hug_of_war and @Steven0512 . I’d also offer your first lesson for free to get them coming. If you have the ability then I’d also offer free food because nothing brings a college student in like free food. Seriously.

Another point of information, however small, I’d keep in mind is that college-student time is often later than standard time. So expect them to be late so you don’t become too frustrated with it.

Advertising shouldn’t be too difficult. There are tons of billboards on most campuses. If there is a multicultural center or student group wing then I’d target those as they are often missed. The computer lab and library and eating centers as well.

Also most college students do not have reliable transportation so I’d arrange to meet on campus or somewhere central. You can also contact the specific department of your subject matter so they have you as a reference. I know we referenced people when I worked in the Math Department and the Multicultural Advising Office.

I know that most college students will bring their coursebook and you will help them with that. Sometimes with specific homework as well. You can usually check out the coursebook at the University library (or as a non-member you may have to read it there). You might also contact the department to ask if they have a spare you could use. I might devote half the time to a “lesson” of your choosing based on where you think they are. And the other half the time to their specific homework or lesson they are studying for.

Here are some tutoring fees from the college I graduated from a couple years ago.

I hope it works out for you!

malcolm.knapp's avatar

The key thing is to remember what it was like to not know the material. This will put you in the mindset of a student and it will clarify what concepts are most important to teach. You can then explain the concepts as if you were explaining them to yourself. Also it would be good to have multiple ways of explaining a concept. That way if a student does not understand one explanation you can try another.

Disc2021's avatar

@malcolm.knapp I highly agree with you. I’ve had a math professor that had multiple different ways of explaining the material – so if one language wasn’t working, she switched to another. She was VERY flexible and it seemed as if no one in the class was ever “lost” for long.

I think other than good articulation – a quality I absolutely hate is when a teacher/professor expects his/her students to immediately understand the material without any need for repetition. Some students need the same questions answered multiple times in order to familiarize themselves with the material and move forward smoothly. Trying to pressure or rush them into understanding only makes them uncomfortable to further ask any questions or for clarification.

As far as rates go – I would check your competition in the area.

StephK's avatar

Apart from taking the (fabulous) suggestions already made, I would be sure to set some kind of policy on missed sessions. Some things to consider: Will you allow your pupil to reschedule a session? If he or she cancels a session without adequate notice, does the student have to pay (or maybe you will waive payment in exceptional cases)? How many sessions, if any, does your student miss before you drop them?

College for me (and for a lot of my peers) is a day-to-day type of experience. It’s extremely rare that I have the same schedule one week that I had the week before – things are always cropping up. That being said, one of those 0 credit classes in college is Prioritizing 101. So perhaps you should cut them some slack in this area, but not too much.

mattbrowne's avatar

Motivation is key. I believe true motivation can only come from within i.e. from the students themselves. But tutors can try to remove obstacles, above all everything that might demotivate students. Number 1 obstacle in my opinion: Why do I need this stuff anyway? Students need to relate to real life and I believe there’s a connection to almost any academic subject. Sometimes it requires a little bit of creative on the tutor’s part.

Rickomg's avatar

You need to learn study technology, the 3 barriers to study, and how to overcome them. Then drill it untill you have it down cold. Its By L Ron Hubbard but you don’t have to become a Scientologist to get benefit from it. The Stuff REALLY Works! I have had tons of success with it. My students are totally getting everything they are learning and the knowledge retention of the information when used, and applied, is absolutely remarkable. You should look into it.

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