Besides risking a provocative title for this entry, what am I talking about? I am talking about how the lives of tutors matter more today than they used to. I am addressing why students get a tutor in the first place and that it happens more now than it used to.
When I went to school, back in the 80s and 90s, no one got a tutor or no one admitted to it. I struggled in one very hard class: physical chemistry. I had the hardest professor who rarely gave anyone an A in his class. I ended up with a B+ but certainly didn’t earn it on points (thank God for curves). I was definitely a good student, a chemistry major, but I struggled in “pchem.” I never once thought about getting a tutor, perhaps because the culture was different or our options were limited. When I started college there wasn’t even an internet. I just hunkered down and toughed it out, worried a lot, and did my best. Students today don’t have to struggle without help anymore. Students have many, many more options to get help outside their professor. The internet provides most of those learning opportunities, from videos on Youtube to Yahoo questions and answers.
In addition to more online options, what has really changed is the culture. Students are more willing to hire a tutor. It’s not taboo like it once was to ask for help. No one is embarrassed to admit they have a tutor. In fact, if your grade improves drastically, many students will want your tutor. Word of mouth made me the number one tutor in chemistry at Cal Poly. Trust me, being hailed as a great tutor spreads fast!
Another reason students get tutors is they have more responsibility and social interactions. Furthermore, great grades aren’t enough anymore for getting into college or graduate school. Students now have a job, volunteer, join clubs, do internships, and have other distractions. Even modern nerds have impressive social lives. (Nerds used to not go out much.) Social media and other platforms give all of us a chance to meet like minded people. Alas, there isn’t much time left for studying, or at least studying gets pushed to the back of the priorities list.
So what is a student to do? Students choose to get an ace, a “pocket professor.” They can get the advantage! Students can get a tutor who tutored their class before, a tutor who already knows the typical test questions or can predict the professor’s tests. A good tutor is someone who knows how to tutor the material better than the teacher knows how to teach it. I bet, if they replaced all the professors in America with the most experienced tutors, there would be no need for tutoring services. Students would save time from struggling under a professor who can’t teach. Trust me, I have seen more than I care over the years.
Sorry professors, tutors just know how to relate better to students and how to present the material. In fact, bad professors are a tutoring company’s dream.
Note: One-on-one tutoring is also a better way to learn than lecturing, so we can’t completely judge bad teachers. Perhaps someday there won’t be anymore lecture format schools. Indeed, every “class” will be from home in a customized virtual environment. Now THAT would be worth going to back to school for.