Finding a tutor when you're already swamped with classes, homework, a part-time job and a social life can seem rather daunting, especially when you're already worried about the classes and homework issue. Following a few steps, however, can help you resolve a few conflicts and identify your exact needs, making your search faster and more productive.
Sit down with your class schedule. Interject any predetermined work schedule, sports or other required activity. Identify exactly what days, times and time spans you have available for tutoring.
Be as flexible as you can in your projection. The tutor may charge for his time and expertise, but he, too, has a life. Be willing to adjust to someone else's schedule as much as you can.
If possible, have the tutoring sessions on campus and allow for use of the college's facilities—and their hours. Keeping the sessions in a learning environment gives you a psychological boost in focusing on learning instead of socializing.
Know how you learn best. Ask yourself a few questions and answer them honestly. The only right answers are truthful ones:
Do you require a lot of interaction and reinforcement or do you prefer only periodic instruction and guidance?
Are you a heavy note-taker or do you use a highlighter and skim material?
If you take a lot of notes, sessions will take longer and more of your attention can be diverted to the pad and paper. Allow extra time or extra sessions in your schedule.
What's the underlying factor in needing a tutor: Is it the professor's teaching style, the material itself or your study habits?
Most tutors charge an hourly fee; some charge by topic or a bulk amount for X-number of sessions. Know how much you can afford.
If cost is an issue, your choices narrow, but there's still hope. Look instead to barter tutoring and offer reciprocal services in one of your strong subjects.
Where to Look
If you have a classmate who exhibits a strong grasp of your weak subject, approach your peer first. Offer bartering services of some kind, such as the above subjects tutoring or task bartering like laundry services—two loads per one session or something similar.
If you're in a study group, ask fellow members whom you trust. Someone in your circle may be able to help beyond the group structure.
Next, talk with your course teacher's assistant. Often a graduate student, she has to know a good deal about the material you're studying; otherwise, she'd not be associated with that class.
Your professor might have some recommendations of reliable people either currently associated with the school or former students in the area.
Address the issue with your student advisor. He might have a list of tutors available.
Advertise. Put up notices in the student center, the administration building if allowed, local off-campus libraries, grocery stores and other free advertising venues. Don't shirk from grocery store or laundry mat bulletin boards. Even tutors need food and clean clothes. See if your school newspaper has services listed or accepts ads for tutors.
Don't automatically accept a tutor, simply because he shows up to teach. Create a list of questions for him to narrow down his requests and requirements.
Determine how often and for how long he'll be available for formal sessions. Find out if you can contact him with a specific question or problem outside the scheduled sessions.
Have him audition his tutoring style by an impromptu session with material you both already know.
Make sure you know precisely any cost and accrual method.
Working with a Tutor
When you find a compatible tutor, don't relax your study habits. Make a list of questions or issues between sessions and address those first.
When you hire a tutor, you are the employer. Use the skills and knowledge available but don't abuse the person or the expertise. You could find yourself repeating the search for help, but this time, you could also carry a bad reputation.
About the Author
JC Ryan is a freelance writer for MyCollegesandCareers.com. My Colleges and Careers helps people determine if an online education is right for them and helps them understand which online courses and online schools they can choose from to reach their goals.