When I first started to work as a tutor many years ago, I started off by working for mainstream tutoring agencies that were the most advertised. It didn’t take me long to realize that most of these companies were focused more on the business side of things rather than on student success and tutor satisfaction. I recently learned that the most prominent tutoring agencies are franchises and anyone with the means and money can purchase the rights to own a franchise. Those that purchase the rights to open one of these franchises are advised to spend a considerable amount on marketing and this explains why these agencies are so well-known and have such a widespread presence. Moreover, the owner of a franchise is likely to not have a background in education, and might be more interested in just making a profit. Big tutoring agencies adhere to the same business principles as other large, multinational businesses such as McDonalds and Nike. The goal of these companies is to sell their products or services to a large number of people, while minimizing the costs of operating the business. So how do you go about minimizing costs and maximizing profit? You find people that are willing to work for very little pay.
On average, a tutoring agency will charge about $50 per hour, but the tutor will only be paid $18-20 per hour. The tutor travels to the home, works hard to help the student improve, and is also often required to write session reports. Any just person will quickly realize that this doesn’t seem ethical. So who is willing to work for these agencies? Generally, these agencies look for university students that have knowledge in a particular subject and want to try tutoring. Don’t think that these agencies spend a lot of time training tutors because that would increase costs. Does this mean the tutors are not going to be that good? Not necessarily, some might be very good at tutoring, even though they are not that experienced.
What happens when the tutor learns that the agency is charging $50 per hour? I’m assuming that he or she will feel cheated and might not be as loyal to the agency as they first were since they’ll realize that they are being taken advantage of. This could lead to the tutor quitting and looking for a job where he or she will be valued more. For this reason, large tutoring agencies are always looking for new tutors. It is not that common for a tutor to work with a particular agency for long. There are better opportunities for those that want to tutor out there. There are many small tutoring agencies and centres that have a much smaller profit margin, and pay their tutors respectably. People that have a background in education, usually teachers, generally run these smaller establishments. The smaller businesses are generally much more invested in the success of their students and the satisfaction of the tutors that work for them. They generally have fewer clients than large tutoring agencies, so they care much more about the satisfaction of every client.
The most experienced tutors won’t be found working for mainstream tutoring agencies or centres. A tutor that is just getting his or her foot in the door might be okay with not being paid much, but an experienced tutor knows his or her value and wouldn’t do the same. So where do you find the most experienced tutors? The most experienced tutors work for themselves; they either offer in-home tutoring or run their own centre. What are the advantages of hiring an experienced tutor rather than one that is just starting out? An experienced tutor will have tutored a particular course or subject dozens of times, so they’ll have much more familiarity with the subject matter that is covered and will know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to tutoring a given subject. They can achieve more in one session than can be achieved by a tutor that doesn’t have as much experience.
Is in-home tutoring better than tutoring that is offered at a centre? The advantage of in-home tutoring is that it’s usually one-on-one, so all of the tutor’s attention is focused on just one student as opposed to three or four. Another advantage is that the student does not need to travel or be driven to a particular location. It could fit into the schedule of a family much more easily. Moreover, a home environment is generally quieter and has fewer distractions than a tutoring centre, so more effective studying can take place. The downside of one-on-one tutoring could be that it’s more expensive, and the student will not get a chance to interact with other students during the sessions.
Don’t make the mistake in assuming that a tutoring agency or centre with the most prominence has the best tutors, even though they all guarantee results and say that they are the most trusted. They are prominent because they have the largest marketing campaigns. Tutoring centres are generally better for younger children that prefer to learn with other children around them, while one-on-one tutoring is better suited for high school students that need to get the most out of each tutoring session. When looking for a tutor, look into smaller tutoring businesses and independent tutors. They tend to have a closer relationship with every client and their success depends on the achievement of their students.