Posts published on March 21, 2018

Can a Private Tutor Help You Get Better Grades?


There are several reasons why you might be struggling with a specific subject. You might have a professor who’s hard to understand. You might have missed a few lectures due to illness or a family emergency. Or maybe the subject has just never come easy to you.

In any case, you’re not on track to get the grades you want, and you feel like you’re behind the other students in your class. One option is to hire a private tutor to help you get back on pace, but is this the best way to go?

Initial Steps to Take

Before hiring a private tutor, there are a few steps you should take to gauge how far behind you are, and potentially catch up:

  • Invest some extra time. You’ve probably already taken this step, but just in case—take some extra time to review the material. If you budget 5 hours a week for studying, add two more hours specifically for this subject, either considering the coursework or finding online resources to guide you. In a couple of weeks, you may find yourself understanding it better.
  • Talk to other students in your class. If you’re still struggling, have a conversation with the other students in your class. If everybody’s struggling the same as you, it means something’s wrong with the class; if nobody’s struggling, you may be able to ask them for advice or help.
  • Talk to the professor. Talking to your professor is never a bad idea—they’re here to help. Ask them for pointers, or explain that you’re struggling; they may be able to offer you different coursework (unless you’re trying to get out of a test last-minute).

Pros and Cons

There are several options for where to go from here. For example, you could double down on your studying habits, you could work with a study group to improve collectively, or you could consider retaking the course at a later date. Hiring a private tutor is another viable option, and offers unique pros and cons that the other possibilities can’t.

  • Dedicated attention. First, private tutors will give you specialized attention that you won’t find in a classroom or group studying setting. They’ll be able to adjust their instruction to fit your strengths, weaknesses, interests, and personal preferences. It alone may be enough to help you overcome your academic obstacles. You’ll spend extra time on your most difficult challenges, and you’ll have a coach to keep you motivated along the way.
  • Incentivized, structured time. Private tutors are also an excellent way to hold yourself accountable. If a group session meets twice a week and will continue regardless of whether or not you’re there, it’s easy to skip or show up late. But when you’re paying out-of-pocket for a tutor in a dedicated session, you’re much more likely to show up on time, every time.
  • Of course, you do have to consider the cost of a tutor. If you pay one of your peers to help you out, you can probably negotiate a low rate, but if you want an experienced professional, you might have to pay hundreds of dollars. On top of your other college costs, this can be financially crippling.
  • Priority shift. Some research indicates that students working with a private tutor may be less inclined to attend their traditional classes; they believe tutoring is enough to help them succeed, which makes the traditional classroom less efficient. Fortunately, this disadvantage is easy to overcome, so long as you’re aware that it’s a possibility and are willing to work proactively to prevent it.

How to Choose a Tutor

Let’s say you’ve decided to hire a tutor. You should know that not all tutors are alike, and there are some key criteria you’ll need to consider when reviewing your options:

  • Training and education. How familiar is this person on the subject you’re struggling with? Have they had any formal training in the education field?
  • How long has this person been a tutor? Are they professional, or are they doing this on the side for a few extra bucks?
  • How much does this person cost? How do other tutors compare?
  • What kind of goals and coursework is this tutor prepared to offer? How long will it be before you’re ready to move on?
  • Spend some time talking to your tutor before hiring them. Do you enjoy their company? Are they easy to get along with? This is more important than you might think.
  • How available is this tutor? Will they be able to meet with you around your schedule, and keep that schedule consistently?

For many students, hiring a private tutor is the best possible choice to recover from an academic slump. For others, it’s an expensive distraction that may pull you away from your classes and primary studying strategies. Understand your studying style, and don’t be afraid to draw on other resources for help; just make sure you know what you’re getting into before you make a final decision.

Sylvia Kohl is an IT teacher with more than 8 years of professional experience. Her main spheres of interest are e-education and she convinced that learning process doesn’t stop after years in school and university.


Students Learning While Working: Adapting to the Business Environment


Times, when work opportunities for an absolute majority of college students were limited to temporary side jobs, are gone; today a student sufficiently savvy in his (or even unrelated) field can hope to land a full-fledged job with a company. Also if one doesn’t stay with the same business, later on, it is an excellent opportunity to acquire invaluable experience of working for a real business. However, the contrast between college and corporate culture is often too drastic, and requirements of a new environment may turn out to be too different from what one is used to. So how does one make this transition easier? Let’s find out.

1.    Adjust to the company’s culture

Every business that has been around for more than a week inevitably acquires its own set of traditions, inter- and intra-department politics, values, relationships, customs and so on. And while getting involved in policy isn’t a good idea at this stage (or any stage, for that matter), the rest calls for more attention. Just pay attention: how do people behave and talk? When and for how long do they take breaks? How do they react to particular managers? Failing to adjust will both create an unpleasant emotional background for your work and make it harder to do your job.

2.    Use your company’s education tools

Many businesses – especially many forward-looking IT-related companies aiming to expand their workforce quickly – have their dedicated tools and programs used to impart experience and knowledge to new employees and those of old ones that seek to improve their skills. PayPal, for example, recently invested in education portal development to make introducing new employees to the company work routine and culture easier. Find out if your company has something similar and don’t shy away from using it – it will both help you improve and demonstrate your willingness to do so to use your company’s education tools.

3.    Ask what you can and should do

In a modern business environment, people often have somewhat eclectic sets of responsibilities: if you ask someone working for a typical company whether he does only what is mentioned in his job description, he will usually answer that, in reality, his work is broader in some respects and narrower in others. So, to better fit in don’t be afraid to ask for feedback and recommendations from your manager – he may have a lot on his plate. It is part of his job to make sure you do yours, and to do it properly you should know what is expected of you, what you can do better and what you shouldn’t bother with at all.

4.    Make yourself indispensable

One of the most efficient and simplest (but not easiest!) ways to fit in a work environment and acquire experience along the way is to make every effort in your power to do an excellent job and make yourself valuable for the company. Keep track of what has to be done and do it before you are asked. Look for ways to do your job better and faster. Going an extra mile may be an incredibly trite and tired expression, but it doesn’t make doing it less efficient.

Juggling college and a severe job can be incredibly draining and hectic, but it is achievable – if you know where your time is going and know how you spend every minute of it. It requires considerable self-control and discipline that few people have naturally, so a good idea would be to embrace an efficient and established system like GTD – people who adopted it go as far as claiming it changes the way they think, not just the way they manage time.

Melissa Burns graduated from the faculty of Journalism of Iowa State University. Nowadays she is an entrepreneur and independent journalist. Follow her @melissaaburns or contact at