Improving Academic Performance

When, and When Not, to Hire a Private Tutor

Posted by Lisa Alvarado on Thu, Feb 09, 2017 @ 08:49 PM

Much as an athlete benefits from a good coach, a student can reap incredible benefits from a supportive tutor. Tutoring, in many ways, is similar to coaching: it requires relationship building, positive reinforcement, support, and a true, unwavering interest in a student’s success. The right tutor can be the difference between struggle and success. With a willing and coachable student, a tutor can identify weaknesses, build confidence, and act as a constant support. There are many instances when hiring a tutor can be beneficial, including:

  1. When you need a nudge

Let’s face it: something like standardized test prep can be monotonous. A dynamic tutor can not only bring some levity to a dull task, but can also install a sense of determination in the student. Creative, committed tutors take their work seriously and are truly invested in the success of the student. Having this kind of “teammate” and motivator can help push the student through a challenging and often tedious time.

  1. When school is overwhelming

No matter the grade level, school can be daunting. Particularly in this age of constant projects and assignments even over breaks (thanks, technology), having a support system and an advocate to help you manage the stress is vital. A private tutor can provide help with all subjects and any assignment, no matter the size.

  1. When you need to get organized

Tutors do much more than just show you tricks or shortcuts. From study skills to effective school habits, the breadth of a tutor’s capacity to help is wider than we often think. Tutors can help you do everything from take more effective notes to annotating literature to teaching you how to keep your materials in order and use academic calendars. Much like a mentor, a tutor invests in all aspects of a student’s academic workload, ensuring a smooth, organized experience.

  1. When you’ve tried the usual suspects

If you’ve gone to teachers for extra help, been in study groups, and spent time in the library studying but you’re still struggling, a tutor might be just what you need. No man is an island; asking for help is often seen as a weakness in our society, but consider this famous proverb: “he who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.” A good tutor may just be the answer you’ve been looking for.

  1. When you’re almost there

Let’s say you are a junior in high school; it’s the second half of the year and you’ve taken the ACT twice, done well, but feel that you haven’t quite hit your goal. You’re close, but recruiting a professional to your team might be the missing link. Adding a tutor’s expertise to your already strong performance and knowledge base could push you over the top and signal the end of your standardized test journey and the beginning of more exciting things, like college. 

  1. When you’re ready to ask for help

Tutors have seen it all: don’t think your struggle is too great to bring to a good tutor. Know that tutors are invested in helping you. They are not there to judge or to point out your weakness, but rather to help you see your strengths and work from a positive perspective. Tutors are accessible and truly want to help, so don’t be afraid or feel embarrassed to seek them out. The only stigma that should be attached to having a tutor is a positive one: the fact that you’ve got a staunch supporter in your corner.

  1. When you need personalization

You can do every online practice test under the sun yet still feel that you’re lacking that ever-important sense of rapport and human interaction. Tutors are skilled at building relationships and forming bonds. Bonding with your practice book is a little harder, not to mention it can feel far too clinical. Bringing some humanity to the process can really inject some much-needed feeling into an all-too-often impersonal experience.


Just as there are times when hiring a tutor can provide marked benefits, there are also those in which a tutor might not be the answer, such as: 

  1. When it’s more than academics

There are times when school problems might involve more than just grades and studying. If you are, for instance, struggling with situations at home or emotional challenges, it might not be the best time to bring a tutor on board. It is important to deal with any outlying issues first, using resources at your school and in your community. Then you can turn your focus to academic concerns.

  1. When you’re logistically uncertain

Often we have the best of intentions in hiring a tutor. However, being realistic about your investment and your ability to stick to it is also important. If, for example, you cannot commit to a consistent program of tutoring due to sports or other obligations, you might want to rethink making that investment or wait until it is more doable.


This article is written by Phil Lane who is a blog writer for iAchieve Learning.  Phil holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English with a concentration in Writing, and has also done post-grad work in Secondary Education and Adolescent Psychology.

iAchieve Learning specializes in one-on-one tutoring for all ages and subjects, test prep for the ACT and SAT, music lessons for a wide variety of instruments, and academic coaching for students who struggle with executive functioning skills.