Tutoring can help to improve your understanding of course work, save you time, help decrease homework stress, and contribute to your academic performance. However, some students may not be familiar with how tutoring works, and in some instances, may even be intimidated by the service. Here, we offer some tips on what to expect and how to make the most of a tutoring session.

How to View Tutoring and Your Tutor

No one is a master in every subject, so we all need a little extra guidance or support at some point. There are two important things to know about tutoring.

1. Tutoring is a temporary support. 

Use tutoring as a scaffold or a bridge to help move you up and along your academic path. An over-reliance on tutoring can actually stunt your independent growth. 

Use tutoring to get a better understanding — then trust yourself enough to work without assistance. You will be much more empowered when you are able to stand on your own.

This is also true for paper reviews by tutors. Submit a draft, but trust yourself to make the revisions needed. Submitting multiple drafts of every paper won’t provide you with the confidence and empowerment that comes from applying what you have learned.

2. Tutors are not course instructors.

While tutors can work with you through a difficult problem or concept, they are not the instructor of the course. Since they may not know exactly what the instructor is expecting, work with your instructor whenever you need help to better understand assignment directions or course concepts. The tutor can then provide additional support.

Of course, always treat your tutor with the same respect you would show your instructor. 

How to Have an Effective Tutoring Session

Once you get to the tutoring space, you want to use your time wisely and have a productive session. Follow these tips for success.

1. Come prepared. 

To get matched with a tutor who can best assist you, be prepared to include the specific question or concept you are struggling with. Examples include: 

  • "I need help creating a strong thesis statement and citing a source in APA format.”
  • “I’m confused on how to calculate the simple cash flow for a business statistics assignment.”
  • “I need help finding a scholarly article on the impact of effective interpersonal communication in the workplace.” 

2. Maintain a focus and keep the session under 30 minutes.

Effective learning happens in short, focused sessions. Bring just one or two questions or problems to your tutoring session. Focus on those for no more than 30 minutes. This will allow you to absorb and think about how you can apply what you’ve learned. Work on your own to stretch your independent learning practice. You can come back the next day for another session if needed.

Like any support in life, tutoring can be a great benefit, but only if used appropriately and productively. To do so, you should strive to find the right balance of getting support, while also becoming an independent learner.

Stay focused and don’t be disappointed if your improvements come in small steps. Learning anything new is a process that takes time and independent practice.


Millie Jones is a Lead Writing and Learning Specialist

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