You don’t need to use a tutoring service? Did I just write that??
These days, tutoring services are a “dime a dozen.” They are all pretty much the same. You pay them money, they give their tutors a few dollars, and then they send you a human being. Everybody is happy. You don’t really know who the tutor is, if they are good, and chances are the tutoring service doesn’t know either. Often, tutoring services have to scramble to find a live body and pass them off as “Oh, he’s one of our best” just to make the sale. No, I am not kidding. Other issues arise if the tutor is late or doesn’t show up at all. Sometimes a tutoring service is just buying time to recruit a second, better option, or they are just praying the tutor is good enough to wing it. It happens more often than you realize.
What you probably don’t know, as it’s the best kept secret in the industry, is that you could just get a tutor on your own. There are several ways. First, you could go to Craigslist and weed through all sorts of tutor advertisements. It costs them $15 per listing in the “Tutoring and Education” section, or it is completely free in the “Lessons and Tutoring” section. But here is the drawback, while you can usually find a great deal on a tutor on Craigslist, true, you don’t really know who they are. My best advice is to meet the tutor in a public place and guard your calculator. You should be just fine.
Second, you could call the local university or college and ask for the unofficial “tutors list,” and then call every tutor on the list. The departments do not screen the tutors and cannot advocate for any of them, but they are typically students at the college or university. However, most college departments do not keep their lists up to date as most of the tutors have graduated and gone, their numbers out-of-service, or the tutor won’t respond until the end of day or week anyways. They are often not even good enough to work for a tutoring service while some are not supposed to have a job even if it’s tutoring for “side money.” Oddly enough, some “tutors” are actually tutoring services that managed to sneak onto the lists. Be weary! What you might be surprised to learn is that local tutoring services scour these same tutor lists for new recruits, snatching up a few good ones and overcoming their aversion to tutoring services (after all, the tutors chose to be on a list instead of working with a local service in the first place). Yes, it is true, many tutors hate the tutoring business.
Third, you could pay $15 for an advertisement on Craigslist asking for “help”; that can work very well, too. The the drawback here is that the first “tutors” who call you will be from the same tutoring services you were trying to avoid, so wait awhile before you start responding. You should be able to sniff out the fakers, eventually.
However, if you really don’t have the time to peruse Craigslist, you don’t want to waste time calling out-of-service numbers, you don’t want to be approached by tutoring services pretending to be solo tutors, or you worry about trusting an unknown, unscreened tutor, then a CREDIBLE tutoring service will be your best bet.