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Choosing a tutor: Individual or Agency?

Written by: Kimberly Selchan

Written by: Kimberly Selchan

At certain points of our children’s education, we may request the support of a tutor. We are fortunate as parents to have many options, but they can be a bit overwhelming. Tutors can operate privately, with a learning center, or with an agency. This article aims for a comparative analysis between tutors that operate privately or as an agency. A private tutor operates as an individual, while an agency operates as a team with oversight. This is the base of the difference between a private tutor and an agency. Tutoring is an unregulated industry; therefore, anyone can become a tutor regardless of qualifications experience, or competence.

Below is some comparative analysis between Agency and a Private Tutor Models:

Logistics:

In private tutoring, interviews, background checks, payments, and coordination of scheduling are done directly between the tutor and the parent. With an agency model, the client contacts the agency and requests their preferred schedule and skillset for one or more children, and once the agency agrees to support the client, it becomes their obligation to select the tutor whose location, availability, and skillset matches the needs. Sometimes, more than one tutor is needed for advanced subjects, learning levels and test preparation. (I personally assure you that is the most tedious part of running a tutoring agency!)

Cost:

A private tutor will typically offer their services at lower rates than an agency, but more than a learning center. A direct-to-tutor approach is more affordable and often a private would be paid in cash at the end of each session. When a client hires an agency, they will typically be subject to more fees, but the extra cost covers the agency’s costs for recruiting and supporting tutors with training and resources, background checks, and general business administration. It is generally required that tutoring hours be purchased in advance, and there may be more variety in payment methods, such as grants and financing.

Specialization:

With a private tutor, the client is limited to the tutor’s specialty and preferred grade level whereas clients of an agency can benefit from a wide range of specialists within the field of study. Agencies have tutors with various levels of knowledge, experience, availability, skills – and personalities! – and these give the clients an added advantage over choosing a private tutor.

Size:

A private tutor is an individual who handles all the academic instruction, administrative, billing and technical tasks, while an agency operates as a team with roles shared. For example at Tutor Doctor Chandler-Gilbert, we have a small team that handles the “administrative stuff;” marketing, recruiting, hiring, teacher outreach, client care activities, assessments, etc., freeing our tutors to concentrate on his/her core responsibility of teaching.

Continuity of sessions:

Tutoring Agencies can maintain regularly scheduled tutoring sessions for their students because if for some reason, a particular tutor is not the right match for the student’s personality or subject area, or the availabilities of either party change, he/she can be more easily replaced with another tutor within the agency. When an individual tutor’s availability or transportation changes, or they can no longer teach the curriculum, there is a disruption in the continuity of tutoring for the student, and the burden falls on the parents/guardian to interview a replacement and coordinate logistics.

Our agency, Tutor Doctor Chandler-Gilbert, has operated for 5 years and is highly beneficial to both the tutors and clients because of our carefully hired and matched tutors, and a creative approach tailored to each child. Tutor Doctor comes alongside parents and tutors to clear the hurdles in the way of learning so students can confidently achieve their personal best. Using our four-way dedicated system: Assess > Match > Tutor > Ongoing Support.

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