College parenting means being concerned about many things when your student heads off to school. Naturally, one of the major areas of focus is your student’s academic success. You want your student to learn. You want your student to get good grades. You want your student to take the appropriate courses to be able to find a good job or get into a good graduate program.
Working with a good advisor will help your student make the course and schedule choices that are appropriate. Learning in those courses and achieving good grades includes many factors. Some of the most successful students may be those who have mastered three important skills. They understand the differences between high school work and college level work; they have learned the skill of good time management; and they seek the support or help that they may need early in the game.
One important source of help in a course is the professor. Students who work at making an out-of-class connection with their professor, perhaps during office hours, can receive some of the help and guidance that they need. Another important source of support, often overlooked until too late, is the help of a tutor — for a specific subject or for several subjects. Tutoring at many colleges is a service provided for free — or at least included in tuition. College tutoring is not necessarily a remedial function, but rather like having an academic personal trainer. Good students know how to take advantage of the possibilities of good tutoring — early in the semester before trouble starts.
Why not wait for tutoring until things get difficult?
Getting help with course work is always a good idea — no matter when it happens. Even when it occurs at the last minute, getting help with a paper, or help understanding important concepts, or help studying for a test, can make a difference. However, starting early to work regularly with a tutor — especially for a difficult subject — can make a significant difference. Here are twelve reasons why starting tutoring early can help your college student.
- Real learning takes time. Starting with a tutor early in the semester gives your student a chance to learn concepts slowly and solidly.
- Early work with a tutor helps your student grasp foundational concepts on which more difficult work may be build. Getting the basic building blocks early can prevent difficulty later in the semester; it’s a proactive approach.
- Beginning early with a tutor means that there is time to change tutors if that is necessary. All tutors are not alike. If the match-up isn’t right, there is time to make changes before crunch time occurs.
- Beginning early means that your student and their tutor will have time to get to know one another. They will have time to establish the rapport that can make a difference in how they work together. The more that the tutor works with your student, the more they will get to know your student’s strengths, weaknesses, and learning style. This means that the tutor will know best what areas need to be addressed and what style of approach will work best.
- Early work will mean that early homework assignments will be done correctly. This translates to a higher grade average and less jeopardy occurring later in the semester. It lowers the stakes for one major event such as a midterm or final exam.
- A tutor will hold your student accountable for completing work. This will help your student with time management skills and will also mean that your student may simply be spending more time with the material than they would otherwise.
- Your student will learn early some of the important study techniques of successful students. The tutor serves as an important role model as your student learns how to ”do college” successfully.
- The professor will see that your student is taking the course seriously and working hard to do their best work. That message of effort is important.
- Your student will receive constant feedback on their work. In some college courses, continual feedback may not come from the professor. There may be only one or two major tests or papers. Receiving early and continual feedback from a tutor helps your student stay on track.
- Your student may build confidence in their learning abilities as they successfully navigate work that the tutor may assign. This may help with your student’s motivation to continue to do well.
- When the busy tutoring season of midterm or final exams occurs, a student who has an established relationship and schedule with a tutor may be given priority of time. Tutors who are extremely busy or in demand are more likely to give priority to regular tutees.
- Your student will establish a relationship and make a new friend — a role model of good academic skills as well as a role model of helping others.
The work of finding a tutor on campus belongs to your college student. Tutoring is only successful if the student truly seeks and understands the importance of the help. Your student can visit a student support or tutoring center or even make informal arrangements with another student. As a parent, you can help your student understand the importance of finding help and finding it early. You can encourage them to take advantage of all of the opportunities for help that the college offers. If your student has had difficulty in the past, or has made some mistakes along the way, working with a tutor can be an ideal way to get help with a fresh start.