My Search for Tutoring Centers Near Me
If you’re reading this, you must be a parent, or a guardian concerned about the academic development and overall wellbeing of your ward. And you’ve made the decision to provide them with extra help in the form of tutoring. I’ve been in your place and I know the effort it took to choose the right tutoring centers near me. Based on my experience, I’ve put together some handy guidelines to help you evaluate these centers and make the right decision.
At the start of my search for after school tutoring near me, a thought struck me that I must begin with the end in mind. Given the sheer number and variety of tutoring centers near me, I needed to look down the road and list clear outcomes. I would then go on to evaluate the tutoring centers from the perspective of whether these outcomes would be achieved.
The outcomes I had in mind were pretty basic that any parent would be able to relate to. Firstly, tutoring for kids near me had to be suitable for the academic goals of my children. This meant well-qualified, well-trained and approachable tutors amongst other things. The center had to be logistically convenient to avoid any inconvenience for my kids. Finally, I wanted a center that offered hassle-free, student-friendly services. All these factors came into play whether it was for elementary school tutoring or high school tutoring.
Now with the post-COVID world in the grip of social distancing norms, online tutoring seems to have gained a new meaning and significance. Therefore, I’ve examined all the factors from the perspective of online tutoring as well.
Evaluating tutoring centers near me based on who needs it
Choices by tutoring level
I approached the search for tutoring near me according to who needed the lessons because that also determined the outcomes. For example, my first target was searching for elementary school tutoring near me for my child who was just starting elementary school. The outcome was set at making learning more fun for her more than anything else. Some of my friends wondered if I was putting too much pressure on my child at a young age. However, my outlook was that she must have a more positive, confidence-boosting experience in school. This would be possible if she could engage better in the classroom, understand what is being taught and find opportunities to participate in groups. With that expectation in mind, I set out finding fun and welcoming tutoring for kids near me.
When it came to my elder son, the outcome and the search targets were different. He had signed up for high school tutoring to get help with assignments, improve grades in school and also develop some career clarity as he went along. The best options for him from amongst the tutoring centers I considered were those that had specialists in subjects like Math, Physics, Geography, etc. I even found tutoring services that prepped students for university and entrance exams. All in all, you need to evaluate if the center focuses on the age group that your kids belong to. This is the same whether it is elementary school tutoring or high school tutoring.
The online tutoring option
By the way, online tutoring can throw-up some really interesting learning opportunities for kids of all age groups that you may have difficulty finding locally. For example, I was looking for affordable tutoring near me with a specialization in Algebra. I found limited options in the tutoring centers near me. After weeks of tiresome searching, I went to an online tutoring platform. From amongst the thousands of tutors who signed up, I found a super specialist in Algebra. I also chanced upon an aircraft design enthusiast who gave my son a one-on-one counselling on how to build a career in that line! Now this isn’t the sort of jackpot I can expect from the brick-and-mortar tutoring centers such as Kumon tutoring.
Evaluating the tutors’ qualifications with a career lens
Limitations of tutoring centers near me
Your child’s needs must be matched with what the tutor is qualified to provide. I came across a wide range of qualifications when I searched for tutoring for kids near me. There really didn’t seem to be a fixed standard that you could look for. This problem was particularly pronounced when it came to first grade tutoring or even elementary school tutoring in general. Somehow for this category of pupils, qualifications didn’t seem to matter that much! Even some enthusiastic homemakers in the neighborhood were offering first grade tutoring. While on one hand I did appreciate the community spirit of these ventures, I must say I really wanted something more professional. Perhaps someone with a degree in advanced learning methodologies for elementary students, or a language expert for kids. Again, the options were limited in the tutoring centers near me I looked around.
The challenges I faced for my high schooler centered around quality. The handful of Math tutors with good qualifications and experience were unavailable. Super specialists in niche subject areas were hard to find in high school tutoring. The tutoring centers had some fine tutors with great testimonials to their credit. However, I often felt that their vision focused more on grades in school, rather than building a successful career. Even though some of them offered career counselling, it seemed a contrived effort rather than a natural organic way of nudging high school kids to think about the great big future.
More choices with online tutoring
In the online tutoring space, I could choose tutors from anywhere in the world. I was thrilled to find highly qualified teachers not just with teaching experience but also industry connect. From learning perspective, I felt this would make a significant difference to the child’s worldview whilst also improving their grades in school. Some online tutoring sites maintain a rigorous selection process and top it up with centralized training programs for their tutors. Personal tutors online have incentives to stay on top of their game to keep their ratings up. This ensures that you have the levers to get and maintain quality.
Evaluating both options, I felt that there was a certain wow-factor when it came to the quality of professionals you were likely to find in online tutoring compared to the physical tutoring centers near me.
Logistical considerations with tutoring centers near me
Location was an important criterion when it came to evaluating tutoring centers near me. If my children had to make the best of their day, travel time and effort had to be minimized. I needed the center to be close to home. But with a location constraint came availability problems. I found that most of the options I had for after school tutoring were often overbooked in some crucial subject or the other. The availability issue got more severe with high school tutoring compared to the elementary school tutoring. At least one of my kids was going to have to travel!
The other logistical concern I had was timing flexibility. Often, after school tutoring near me was inflexible about moving around a session to accommodate my son’s soccer practice before a weekend game. With so many students flocking the tutoring centers such as Kumon tutoring, they barely managed their timetables and had little patience for rescheduling requests. What seemed like affordable tutoring at the beginning didn’t seem that way after several sessions lapsed without refunds. This wasn’t even about money anymore. Our family places equal stress on extra-curricular activities and coursework. Therefore, flexibility turned out to be an important criterion for evaluating tutoring centers near me.
I must say that the online tutoring arrangements scored very high on flexibility compared to the tutoring centers near me. Firstly, travel went out of the picture and my kids were able to take their sessions from home. Since my options weren’t limited to local tutoring centers, I could freely opt for an online tutor anywhere in the world as long as she or he was accommodating of their emergencies.
Evaluating service level policies of the tutoring centers
Tutoring rates, fee structure, cancellation policies, rescheduling charges, customer support, refunds and redressals were not factors I’d start off thinking about. However, they can leave a bad taste should something goes wrong. I went through these aspects in detail while evaluating the tutoring centers just to avoid mid-year upheavals for my children. The sense I got was that most centers offering tutoring for kids near me had to really ramp up their customer centricity. Another service aspect I scrutinized was background checks. Particularly when it came to my first-grade child, I made sure the centers had criminal background checks in place.
When it came to tutor centers near me, there was a dearth of affordable tuition with no new competition challenging the authority of these centers to set tutor rates. Rates should ideally be linked to the complexity of the subject and the qualifications of the tutor. But these tutoring centers charged a set fee for services, plus a registration fee. They didn’t offer the option to calibrate the tutor’s level with my budget. A flexible fee structure is what any parent would look for. It could mean free sessions before finalizing a tutor, or a reduced fee during the test period, or the option to switch tutors within a stipulated time. In all the tutoring centers near me I evaluated, such fee arrangements were hard to come by.
I checked if the tutoring centers near me had a cancellation policy. There was one that had a detailed policy covering aspects like cancellation by students, cancellation by tutors, late arrival, no shows, etc. They offered limited flexibility but even a 24-hour notice is welcome compared to no policy at all. There was one tutoring for kids that said that if the tutor arrived more than 15 minutes late, you got the whole session for free. These are not exactly deal makers or breakers but good to have.
Refunds and redressals:
Most tutoring centers near me had a ‘No Refund’ policy loud and clear. This was fair from their point of view. But it’s quite common to find yourself locked into a year-long deal with a tutor that your child is not happy with. I was particularly concerned for my first grader who was just starting out with personal tutoring. The workaround was to opt for a place that had shorter terms, like a month or a quarter. But most institutes didn’t offer such options to hedge against mid-year exits.
Service level flexibility of online tutorials:
As far as service level is concerned there’s no denying that online tutorial sites have changed the dynamics of tutoring to the advantage of pupils. The first and foremost advantage of online tutoring services compared to tutoring near me is affordability. You can easily find tutors catering to different budget ranges with a bidding system that keeps rates competitive.
Online tutoring platforms often have provisions for refund or redressal for a service that you’re not happy with. You can easily switch your personal tutors online if you’re unhappy with their tutoring. You have formal feedback and complaint procedures as well. To make the tutor hunting efforts more student-friendly, many online tutorial sites provide you with free online chat that helps you gauge the tutor assigned to you before paying up. The whole process is in your control. This is a definite value-add compared to traditional centers for after school tutoring, such as Kumon tutoring.
Why is evaluation important?
These days, there are several avenues for after school tutoring nearby and around the world providing you with a variety of educational support to meet your every need. However, not all of these centers can meet all of your child’s specific goals. A structured evaluation of the options in front of you will, therefore, ensure that you’re on the right track in your search efforts. In fact, I came to the world of online tutoring only after I realized that the traditional tutoring centers near me were falling short on many fronts. Online options gave me a greater sense of control over the outcomes.
Evaluation doesn’t end with finding the right tutoring for your child. It is important that you discuss goals and outcomes with the tutor you finalize. It is also important that you have a structured approach in place to evaluate your child’s progress with tutoring. You should also identify areas of improvement constantly and make continuous course corrections.
Tutoring in itself isn’t the magic mantra that can put your child on the stairway to success.
Your role as a parent in the evaluation and selection of the right schooling service is what takes your child to success.