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Do you feel that tutoring has become an ugly word, a dirty word – within the larger academic community?

When you’re meeting new people and telling them about your tutoring business or the fact that you’re a tutor by profession, how do the individuals around you respond? Do they embrace your profession or do they make you feel as though you’re simply an academic prostitute, preparing only those children whose parents can afford to pay for additional test preparation and study?

Is Tutoring a Dirty Word?

This week in the Huffington Post, Alex Mallory, founder and director of Competitive Edge Tutoring tackles some of the stigmas associated with the tutoring profession. Responding to a Newsweek article that was written in 2005 called “Tutoring Rich Kids Cost Me My Dreams,” Mallory shares his experience in the tutoring world and calls into question the experience shared by the writer of the Newsweek article.

However, Mallory’s article, titled “Tutoring is a Dirty Word,” has me wondering what tutors can do to change the connotation about private tutoring being a last-ditch effort to help the offspring of wealthy families get into the college of their parent’s choice. By sharing his counter experiences, Alex Mallory took the first step in trying to put to rest the stigma that tutors only help those who can afford to achieve help. However, aren’t there ways that other tutors can make a stand on this point, too?

After all, there are plenty of non-profit organizations who offer tutoring help to those in need. There are also hard-working middle-class families who employ the use of a tutoring company. Also, there are many free online test preparation resources and tips which, if a student desired to, they could access on their own. If these self-taught students with can achieve on their own, then imagine what a student who has access to a private tutor and the inclination to succeeed could do…

Clean Up The Act & Don’t Tutor Dirty

Alex Mallory may be right about one thing, it doesn’t matter if every wealthy family in the world bought their child a tutoring class, if each pupil didn’t care one way or another about their success. A tutor’s purpose, as always, is there to guide a pupil’s mind toward the right answer, not to do it for them. No amount of money paid can ever guarantee a straight A-transcript, or admittance to the right school. There is still a certain amount of effort that a student must put in to achieve; no matter how many hours a private tutor is employed.

In the Newsweek article, the tutor who shares their story colors themselves as an academic prostitute and “paper writer” who helped “the wealthiest, and often stupidest, students” achieve. Reading over the article, one can’t really feel pity on the tutor that willingly accepted a job with a tutoring company which condoned unorthodox practices.

As a tutor, it’s your job to access the student honestly and help that student achieve their potential. If their disposition toward learning taciturn and unfocused, you don’t go and start writing papers for that student. Talk to the parents. Make your boss answerable to your moral compass. You should also work with the student and hold them accountable for the work in front of them.

You should prove, by example, that tutors aren’t academic prostitutes.  Every step you take in building your brand should be aimed at the goal of positioning yourself to parents as an educator and specialist who can and will help your child (if they’re willing to be helped).

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featured photo by Yume Photo


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