So how does private tutoring normally work?

Contact the tutor via the website.

  • Ask them are they still available for tutoring.
  • Either ask when they prefer to meet or list some times when you are available.
  • Discuss where is best to meet. For safety, we recommend a public place for tutoring, like the library of a cafe or study lounge on campus.
  • Swap mobile numbers to make meeting up easier.
  • Put your tutoring session time in your diary and set an alarm.

Meet up

  • Bring the right amount of cash.
  • Bring any textbooks, course material etc you’ll need.
  • Don’t turn up after a long hot run, no shower and a garlic sandwich for lunch. You are sitting next to someone for an hour so its nicer to have deodorant and fresh breath.
  • Explain the topic you are finding difficult.
  • Tip: Don’t push the tutor to “just help me with the answer to this week’s tutorial question”. Think about it - you don’t want answers to a specific question, you want real understanding of the topic - then you can answer any question yourself. Sometimes the tutor will have to go back a few steps or a few weeks of class to sort out your base knowledge and build from there. This might take more than one session.
  • At the end of the session, pay the tutor in cash and say thanks. If you think the session was useful and you want to schedule some more, chat about good times to meet in the future. Otherwise, thank the tutor and say you will get in touch if you need more help.

Is private tutoring worthwhile?

Surprisingly, you might find that not all the benefits come from the session itself.

Private tutor sessions also;

  • encourage you to attend more of the lectures and tutorials for hard subjects.
  • motivate you to spend more of your own time working on the tough subjects.
  • make uni feel less depressing and more “I can do this!”.

Is it cost effective?

Some tutor sessions might seem expensive.

But if doing 6 sessions with a tutor at $40 each (that’s $240) gets you to pass a subject that you were going to fail?

Then that’s the best $240 you ever spent.

Remember, the HECS debt you have for that subject might be $2,000-$4,000!

Or what if the sessions make you feel like uni isn’t some impossible depressing place.

Did you know that huge numbers of students never finish their degree? Drop out rates at Australian unis are high. If tutoring gets you motivated to push through and get your degree, again, that might be the best $240 you spend!

So how does private tutoring normally work?

Join StudentVIP and set up your basic profile. It’s all free. You must be a current uni student or very recent graduate to use this site.

If you want better results, add the extra profile items like;

  1. a photo (you rank much higher)
  2. your average marks.
  3. invite friends to add a reference.
  4. rate and review subjects you have done (you’ll rank much higher).

When you get an enquiry message, answer it quickly.

Warning: If people contact you to do assignments for them, say no.

If we get reports of tutors offering this service on the site, the tutor will be banned from StudentVIP and reported to their university.

We are very serious about building a service that has a positive impact on university life and academic success, and not a platform for plagiarism and academic misconduct.

Safety first. Where to meet?

ALWAYS MEET IN A PUBLIC PLACE for your tutoring session. That’s a rule. Don't agree to go to someone’s house (use the local library), their college, (use the uni library), your house (suggest a cafe). If someone insists on a private space for the session, say ‘sorry, I only tutor at the library/cafe”. Be firm and be suspicious of anyone insisting on a non-public place. If someone acts weird - report them to the site by logging in and using the feedback tab. 99.99% of people aren’t weird.

The session

Start by mentioning the time - “It’s five past three, so let's get started”. That just confirms when the session has started for both.

Then ask what they would like to get out of the session, is it the whole subject? Just one topic? This week's tutorial assignment?

Often students want a very short term problem fixed, like “just show me how do I do this week's tutorial question”. But if they are to really understand the topic, you might have to take a few steps back from that and cover earlier material. Explain why you need to do that.

Preferably, keep the session to an hour. People have limited concentration.

Five minute break. Even better, do an hour+5mins session, and have a 5 min break in the middle. It’s a chance for your student to go to the bathroom, get a drink or coffee, or just walk around. From a learning perspective, a break achieves two things;

  • Their body gets active and pumps blood to their brain, which gives them more concentration for the second half hour.
  • Their brain gets some down time to subconsciously “process” what they have learnt in the first half hour. You’ll find that after the break your student might start with some questions that popped into their head during the break -that’s a good sign. Watch out for it. Their brain has been subconsciously processing.

Read more teaching tips under “Adult learning theory”.

The end of the session. Don’t finish short 3 minutes. It really annoys students. It’s way better to go over by a few minutes.

The motivation to learn

Did you know that more than half of the effect of your session will come from your ability to MOTIVATE your student?? So it’s not all about explaining the course CONTENT. It’s just as much about you being a MOTIVATOR.

Be empathetic

“Yeah, this subject is tough”.

Be positive:

“Once you get this topic, the rest is a lot easier”. or “I’m happy to help you get on top of this. It feels tough now, but you’ll feel great when you pass it”.

Why should I learn this?

Adult learning theory says adults won’t be motivated to learn something unless they understand WHY they should learn it. To be honest - even kids are like this. If you ask a kid to do something the most common answer is “Why???”.

So it can be useful to ask your student why they are studying their current course. If they are highly motivated about it, then you can connect this subject to that goal “We’ll if you want to be an engineer, you are going to have to pass stats!”. Establish why they want to pass this subject.

The three motivators

Different people find different things motivating;

A. Goal orientated people: They want to hit a specific target. “You should aim for a Credit in this subject”, or “Can you aim you finish the rest of the assignment by Thursday?”. Having goals they can tick off drives these people to action.

B. People orientated people: They want to please others. “I would be really happy if you could get this assignment finished by Thursday - text me when its done”.

C. Team orientated people. They want to please the group and feel part of something. “All my students have got great results so I want you to be part of that”.

The basics first

As a tutor, be a coach and make sure your students isn’t skipping the basics: “Make sure you go to this week’s lectures - even if you find them tough”. “Don’t miss the tutorials this week - you’ll be surprised how much you pick up”. “What are the readings for next weeks tutorials? - let's skim them now”.

When a subject is hard, it’s easy to get depressed and decide to skip lectures and tutorials, to stop reading the textbook and stop even trying to do the assignments… Of course that just makes the situation much worse.

Four step learning model: Talk, Show, Do, Teach. Talk: teacher verbally explains the topic. Show: Teacher works through an example problem. Do: Student gets the chance to work through a problem themselves. Start with an easy one. Teach: Swap roles - the student explains the topic to you.