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The ROI of a Tutor

written by: Chuck Cohn • edited by: Carly Stockwell • updated: 12/19/2012

Parents are sometimes reluctant to hire tutors, imagining them to be a waste of resources. However, tutors are in a much better position to help your students with individual attention than a teacher who is strapped for time, or yourself who may not be as familiar with the subject matter.

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    Often, parents are reluctant to hire tutors. This can be because parents are confident they can help their student on their own. Or parents might think that the teacher would be able to provide the best help as he/she is the one teaching the class. Many parents simply think that tutoring is not a good investment. The reality is that a tutor offers unique services that parents and teachers lack.

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    Focused and Free of Distractions

    Tutoring First, and most importantly, tutors can give your student full and complete one-on-one attention. Tutors will not be distracted by a burning pot roast, unruly siblings, or a bad day at work. They can establish a connection with your student — free of any of the conflicts that might arise in parent-child or teacher-student relationships.

    A tutor can teach a student to learn concepts, rather than to memorize facts for an upcoming test. A good instructor has expertise and depth of knowledge in the subject they tutor. A teacher may only be familiar with one way of approaching a problem or only choose to teach one particular method, while a tutor can present multiple approaches until they find one that your student can understand. And a parent might have advanced degrees in history and Japanese, but that won’t help when their student starts struggling with chemistry. A talented chemistry tutor will be able to help substantially more.

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    When to Make the Investment

    There are three situations when a parent should consider investing in tutoring for their student, and it is not always when their son or daughter brings home a failing grade. Tutors are an exceptional resource even when your student is doing well.

    1. Extra boost. If your student wants to push that “B” to an “A+”, a tutor can give them the edge they need to meet that goal.
    2. Tests. Standardized tests are important for college admissions and many scholarship applications, and a tutor can help your student meet their score goals.
    3. Struggling. This is when most people start looking for help. If your student is completely lost in a class, needs to build more confidence, or is showing a lack of study skills, a tutor can pull them out of the fog and set them back on track.
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    The Payoff

    What are the long-term benefits of having a tutor? After all, you are the one writing the checks and the only change you might see now is an improvement in test scores on a standardized test. The reality is, though, that high quality tutoring has a financial payoff of at least four- to five-fold of your upfront costs (not to mention the lifelong skills that a student can learn that will empower them to learn effectively on their own).

    If students do well on AP and IB tests, they could skip virtually all of the typical first year courses in college, saving you tens of thousands of dollars in tuition. Having a great academic résumé will also significantly increase a student’s chances of winning a merit scholarship, resulting in even more college-cost savings. Most importantly, a great tutor will build up your student’s problem-solving skills, confidence, and ability to approach any question. These are skills that can be applied to any discipline and throughout one’s entire life, giving the student an edge in studies and careers.

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    Finding the Right Fit

    You can spend thousands of dollars on a nice suit, but if it does not fit well, it’s a waste. Similarly, if your student and a tutor do not connect with each other, it matters little how much time you spend trying to force the issue. The fit between the tutor and your student comes down to communication skills, personality, and content matter knowledge.

    Shopping around for tutors is difficult and exhausting, and it can sometimes feel hopeless and daunting. One of the benefits of working with a high quality tutoring company, though, is that they will do much of this screening for you. They recruit and work with trusted, experienced tutors, and they make sure you are matched to the one that is right for your student’s area of study and their unique learning style. Great tutoring companies will do the legwork for you — wading through tutor applications and conducting in-depth interviews — enabling you to start on skills building right away.

    The best tutors will help your student meet academic and test score goals. Whether it’s an extra push to get a 4.0, helping them in a class that may as well be in a foreign language or even helping them learn a foreign language, tutors are an invaluable resource — one that pays for itself, many times over. A tutor is more than just a study partner. A tutor is a solid investment in your child’s future.

    About the Author: Chuck Cohn is the founder and CEO of Varsity Tutors, a service offering tutoring in Atlanta and 15 other metro areas. You can connect with Chuck on LinkedIn.

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