In-Person vs Online Tutoring: Which One Is Right for You?

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  • Feeling a little behind on your studies, or wanting to get ahead of the crowd?

    Tutoring is a fantastic way to improve your learning and motivation and can even help you to develop more effective study habits.

    A tutor could be another student, a specialist in your subject matter, or even one of your current teachers.

    Now, in the age of technology, face-to-face tutoring is no longer the only option available. In the twenty-first century, online tutoring is becoming more and more popular and accessible to anyone with access to the internet. How do you know which one of these two options is right for you? And how do you go about finding a tutor?

    Finding the Right Tutor

    Not all students are made equal, and neither are tutors. Finding a tutor to match your area of interest, personality, and learning style can be a challenge, but it’s worth hunting around for someone with whom you can really connect.

    Searching for a Tutor by Subject Area

    First, identify the subject areas that need improvement, or think about the new skills you want to learn. Do you struggle in math? Are you flunking chemistry? Are you having trouble understanding the questions in your French homework? A tutor can do everything from help you understand and complete your homework assignments to providing intensive remediation, as long as you make your needs clear from the beginning.

    Searching for a Tutor by Learning Style

    Second, look for a tutor who can connect with you and the way you learn. Do you get along better with males or females? A younger person or an older person? Do you want someone to nurture and encourage you or a tutor who is tough?

    Some tutors are great at giving detailed explanations and others are more hands-on. Analyze the way you learn best and look for someone who can provide this.

    In-Person versus Online Tutoring

    Now, have a think about the tutoring delivery format that might work best for you. In-person and online tutoring each have their advantages and disadvantages, and what might be right for you might not be right for someone else.

    Here are some of the main pros and cons of each tutoring style:

    In-Person Tutoring: Pros

    This is the traditional delivery format and it certainly has a lot of advantages. It can often be easier to find an in-person tutor because past students from your high school or college might advertise their tutoring services on the school notice boards or in the school newsletter, or it might be someone you already know.

    Local, in-person tutors will often be familiar with the curriculum and textbooks that you are using and might have even completed similar assignments to the ones your professor has given you. In a face-to-face session, your tutor can spread the textbooks out on the table and use diagrams and models to help you understand.

    In this context, your tutor will be able to use a range of teaching techniques to explain the concepts to you and can use their facial expressions and body language to communicate; this is especially helpful if you are a social person and rely heavily on visual cues.

    In-Person Tutoring: Cons

    The main drawbacks of in-person tutoring relate to logistical issues and the potential informality of the arrangement. If you or your tutor are sick or busy, lessons tend to get canceled. If traffic is heavy and you arrive late, your tutor may only have until your usual finishing time to teach you. If you just have a quick question, it might not be convenient to pop in for a visit.

    Online Tutoring: Pros

    Let’s explore online tutoring now. A great advantage of online tutoring is that you can find experts in your subject area from around the world—including some high-profile coaches and professionals. For example, if you want to learn a subject that is not available locally, like a particular foreign language, you can easily find an online tutor who is a native speaker and who can tailor the lesson content to your needs and interests.

    Without the need to leave your house for tutoring sessions, online tutoring can save you travel time and can also mean that the session can still go ahead if you are sick or injured. The large number of tutors available around the world can also make scheduling easier. For example, if you are most awake and alert at nighttime, you could find a tutor in a country where daytime hours coincide with that time of night.

    Online Tutoring: Cons

    The downside of online tutoring is that it can feel less personal, and it’s easier for misunderstandings to take place. Without the body language and instant feedback that you get in person, the interaction can feel a little awkward and it’s harder for your tutor to see that you are feeling frustrated and offer you encouragement. You can read this study for more on this intriguing social dynamic.

    The other main disadvantage of online tutoring is that you need a reliable internet service that’s fast enough for high-quality video as well as rapid uploads and downloads. Instead of lesson time being lost due to traffic, time can be lost due to technological issues and low internet connectivity.

    How Can I Decide Which Type of Tutoring Is Best for Me?

    As you can see, both types of tutoring have their advantages and disadvantages, and it really depends on your needs and personality. An online tutor might be a great choice if you can’t find a tutor in your subject area locally, and an in-person tutor could be perfect if you thrive on interaction and hands-on learning. To combine the best of both worlds, you can even find online tutors to connect with in your local area. That way, you have the choice of meeting online or at a coffee shop for your lesson!

    setting yourself up for success with your studies tips:

    Author Bio:
    Tiffany Rauschenberger is a freelance writer, content strategist, and former graduate assistant. She frequently writes about the latest developments in teaching, public policy, standardized testing, and educational technology.

    Image Credit: Pixabay

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