Why a private tutor should be on every student’s back to school list

Why a private tutor should be on every student’s back to school list

Year 12 is an overwhelming time for all students. For me, it was the first time I realised that the effort and work that I was putting in was going to directly correlate to what I was going to spend my next few years doing – was it going to be studying Law? Journalism? A gap year maybe? 

This realisation was heavy, but I wasn’t overly worried, and I had the excitement of Year 12 Formal and other large social events which seem to consume the mind of everyone during this exciting, transitional period.  

After a few weeks of class, the teachers began to assign tests for each class as a way to gage where we were sitting and what we knew, and importantly to orient where we needed improvement. I had studied for these tests and was confident in my ability to pass with flying colours. 

To say I was shocked when I got these tests back would be an understatement. 

For two out of my four subjects (Biology and Psychology) I received a C- on both tests. Hardly enough to even a consider a pass, let alone be enough to gain the ATAR I desired. I had always been proud of my work and tried to put in my best 100% of the time, so this was as upsetting as it was surprising. 

Both my Psychology and Biology teachers were disappointed by my results but left it to me to ‘try harder’ next time. Teaching carried on as usual and I felt like I had been left stranded. I didn’t have any animosity to the teachers, I understood that there were 20 or so other kids in the class who needed help. Still I knew that if I wanted to get the grades I knew I was capable of getting, the help I needed to have wasn’t going to come from the teachers or the school.

That night I pulled out my laptop and did a simple Google search for Psychology and Biology tutors in my area. Within 5 minutes of looking I contacted a young girl named Ebony who had just completed her year 12 studies the previous year and was heading into her first year of her Psychology degree. 

We gave her a call and agreed that she would come over to my house once a week for an hour and begin tutoring me. 

That extra hour a week changed everything. By the time the next test came out a few weeks later I went from a C- to an A for both subjects. The help Ebony provided was invaluable. I don’t know if it was because she had just completed Year 12 herself, but her knowledge on course curriculum and knowing exactly the right things to focus on was far beyond what I was receiving in the classroom. 

I hate to think of a reality where I didn’t reach out to a tutor for extra help. Who knows if I would’ve been able to get into my desired University course? I really owe a whole lot to the extra help I received from my tutor. 

From my conversations with friends and peers at University, it seems that tutors and tutoring were very common within the cohort. One of my friends attended a prestigious private school (I attended a public school in South Australia’s Western suburbs), and I asked her about her tutor experience and what drew her to one. Surprisingly, the story wasn’t that different from my own, in fact it was worse.

For her the teacher was much harsher. He told her parents that she was not only a waste of space in the maths class, but a lost cause general. Out of spite they hired a tutor to help fill in the gaps the schoolteacher wouldn’t attempt himself. In her words her tutoring experience “made the difference in helping her complete Stage 2 maths with a respectable grade”.

Another friend actually became a tutor after her Year 12 studies. Similarly, her experience plays into the same theme of both my own and others’ experiences; that schools don’t seem to be doing enough to help their students achieve high academic standards. She expressed that her time with her clients was spent running over content that they were struggling to comprehend. There was a drastic improvement from the beginning of her tutoring to the time the student would be ready to sit their final exams, and all of her students said that her role was invaluable. 

It seems like a sad reality, but it seems that tutoring is an essential part of the school experience if you wish to achieve a high standard of academic results. Of course, there are exceptions – there always are – but the lived experience of many students seems to support this notion. 

Until schools do more internally to alleviate the need for students to receive out-of-school tutelage, if you have the means to do so, every parent should invest in a tutor if they want their child to succeed.

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