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Successfully Navigating Your First Year: The Advantages of Hiring a Private Tutor as a Freshman

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Successfully Navigating Your First Year: The Advantages of Hiring a Private Tutor as a Freshman

Roughly 25% of first-year college students don’t return for their second year to any school, and about 35% don’t return to the same school, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSCRC). While reasons for dropping out can vary from student to student, striving for academic success is the overarching goal for many. Whether you’re in need of valuable study skills or are finding it challenging to navigate online classes, a private tutor can help greatly during your first year on campus — from helping to develop healthy academic skills to bridging the gaps of online learning.

Developing Valuable Skills

The pace of college life can be a major shock for many, with a healthy dose of responsibility resulting in challenges such as improper time management, stress overload, and learning to successfully balance a social life with academics. As a result, students may find themselves quickly falling behind in class, regardless as to the subject. A 2021 Inside Higher Ed post delves into the findings of the Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement that year, which noted that 53% of first-year students reported “a substantial increase” in both mental and emotional exhaustion. Of these, it’s pointed out that nearly 70% indicated “high expectations of academic difficulty,” compared to 42% of their peers who didn’t experience greater exhaustion.

A private tutor can help greatly when looking to address specific problem areas, though additional benefits should also be noted. Generally speaking, improving academic performance, encouraging self-directed learning, and even helping a student to improve their attitude towards learning are all advantages of hiring a private tutor, according to Oxford Learning. For college students, a private tutor can also help in developing valuable academic skills that can be carried throughout their time on campus. For many first year college students, lacking basic academic skills that may not have been developed in high school (like knowing how to effectively study for an exam) can be a great reason to hire a private tutor. One Florida State University page highlights the value of study skills tutoring, a specific type of tutoring that can offer students assistance in several key areas, such as learning proper time management, effective study and motivation strategies, and addressing challenges such as anxiety, stress, and procrastination.

At Florida State University, study skills tutoring is noted to be located alongside coursed-based tutoring in the Learning Studio during open hours, with study skills tutors available by appointment or walk-in. While this type of tutoring may not be available at your institution, hiring a tutor that specializes in such skills can be a major advantage. General study skills, problem solving in regard to academics, and gaining confidence for an upcoming exam or assignment are all advantages that can come from a university tutor. It’s worth noting that when a tutor is a college student themselves, developing a peer-to-peer academic relationship can also be beneficial when aiming to pick up on valuable skills that will serve a student well throughout their time on campus.

Addressing the Pitfalls of Online Learning

In recent years, online classes have been a staple for college students — though the virtual classroom can present academic challenges on its own. “Many college students find themselves disappointed with the quality of the academic instruction they receive via online lectures,” highlights a post from Child & Adolescent Behavioral Health. “Some students report that they have very little direct instruction from professors, relying instead on reading material, pre-recorded lectures and written assignments.” Due to the nature of online learning, many may find it difficult to retain information, while the learning style itself can present a major adjustment when it comes to the style of asynchronous classes that limit real-time participation. For example, students who typically thrive from live feedback, classroom discussion, and the ability to ask questions in the moment can find it challenging to succeed in a virtual environment.

A private tutor can help immensely by bridging the gap that online learning methods bring. Meeting with a tutor once a week while taking an online class, for example, will provide the in-person element that many may crave, though it can also serve as an opportunity to ask questions, receive feedback in real time, and supplement ‘unhelpful’ methods with those that a student can utilize to their advantage (having a tutor walk you through an exercise, for example, can be more helpful to some than listening to a pre-recorded lecture). Meeting with a tutor in person can also give you the chance to dive deeper into a topic, have meaningful and thought-provoking discussions, and address any questions that may come up immediately, highlighting the many benefits for those who may struggle with online instruction.

Finding the Right Tutor

When looking to find a tutor while in university, contacting your school’s student services is a great place to start — this can be especially helpful when determining whether or not your school has qualified tutors or a tutoring program available. Asking other students or even your professor can present additional resources, while finding a tutor online is another option that can allow for flexibility when managing a busy schedule. When it comes to selecting the right individual, determining your goals ahead of time will allow you to communicate what you’re looking for, whether it’s help with one subject, general study skills, or something else entirely.

When looking to hire a private tutor that is not associated with your school, carrying out a few simple steps can help ensure that you’re hiring the right individual. The right qualifications, experience, and a positive demeanor are all necessary characteristics, though assessing additional factors — such as safety — should be a top priority. A simple online search and criminal background check, for example, will help you to determine that a tutor is who they claim to be, though an interview is equally as essential in ensuring that a candidate is fit for the job. Apart from providing the space to address any concerns or questions, an interview can help you determine whether or not a good working relationship can be established depending on whether a good rapport is present. Additionally, holding at least one interview before hiring a private tutor will help in revealing any red flags (if there are any), such as showing up late, last-minute cancellations, or refusing to answer any important questions. From there, arranging a second, more informal preliminary meeting can be used to discuss money and fees, additional costs, and logistics.

Enlisting the help of a private tutor may sound unnecessary to many first year college students, especially when aiming to successfully balance academics on your own. However, private tutoring can make a world of difference, from better navigating the academic ins and outs of college life to addressing gaps that may need to be filled when taking online courses.

SEE ALSO: How to Build Marketable Skills Alongside Your College Studies

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