– Tutoring Track Records –
Secret #3: Most Tutors and Tutoring Firms Have TERRIBLE Track Records (if they have track records at all)
As a career one-on-one tutor, and as someone who formerly ran a one-on-one tutoring firm, I’ve learned two very important things:
1. Effective one-on-one tutoring is incredibly powerful
2. Finding an effective one-on-one tutor is practically impossible
Why am I able to charge $1,000 an hour for my services? Why do I get 90% of my clients from word of mouth? Because I get consistent results – something that is very rare in my industry.
There are MILLIONS of people who know all the math, grammar, and vocabulary necessary for a great SAT and ACT score. Again, this isn’t rocket science – there’s a very limited set of knowledge tested by these exams.
There are also THOUSANDS who know the best strategies and tricks to apply them to the SAT and ACT. Some tricks and tactics are better than others, but anyone with enough experience will pick up at least some of the good ones.
Here’s the problem: there are barely ANY tutors able to TEACH these facts and strategies effectively!
Just because someone is a rocket scientist doesn’t mean that she can teach you to build a rocket!
I get good word of mouth because I bring my students consistent results. My marketing for my personal services looks something like this:
A) I get a new student (usually a referral from another client)
B) My student’s SAT scores go up by about 350-600 points, or his ACT scores go up by about 5-11 points (often much more)
C) I ask his parents to tell their friends
D) They do
That’s how I’ve grown my personal tutoring practice. It’s how I charge more than most high-powered corporate attorneys for my time, and why I’m booked years in advance. I “get away” with charging that rate because there are remarkably few tutors out there who actually make any difference in their students’ scores.
But there are a LOT of tutors out there charging quite a bit – a few hundred an hour in many cases – without any results at all. Here’s the big problem plaguing the industry:
Most people hire tutors based on paper qualifications, and not on their track records.
When I ran my tutoring firm, I’d get applicants who were:
-Getting their PhDs at Columbia
-Had 4.0 GPAs
-Had perfect SAT scores
-Had “extensive experience tutoring the SAT”
Looking at those qualifications, most firms (and parents) might think: “wow, this guy would make an incredible SAT tutor!”
Here’s the only issue:
Most of these people couldn’t teach their way out of a paper bag.
Sure, they were smart as heck, and they were amazing at taking the SAT or ACT, but there is a world of difference between being good at something and making other people good at something.
That’s why, when I ran interviews, I would never ask people for their references until they showed up in my office.
In my opinion, if a tutor can’t pull 10 phone numbers out of his pocket, on the spot, and gladly have you call all ten to check in on his tutoring ability and track record of results, you should not trust him.
Whenever I asked these tutors for their references, most of them would get very uptight and awkward. “You mean…like, right now? Like, you want…their names and numbers?”
Most of the time, I was told: “I have to go home, collect my clients’ information, make sure it’s okay that you get in touch, and then I’ll email you the information later.”
80% of the time, I never even heard back from these people. Even when I did, it didn’t matter – I wouldn’t hire these people.
Any good tutor should have clients HAPPY to speak with prospective new clients. After all, if you raise someone’s SAT scores by 500+ points, don’t you think they’ll be happy spending 3 minutes talking to someone on your behalf? More importantly, why did these tutors not have their clients’ information on hand? Was it stored in their secret vault?
Before you spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a one-on-one tutor, you should tread VERY carefully. Most of the firms out there hire based on “on paper” qualifications, brag about those qualifications, and expect people to “bite” – hook, line, and sinker.
“Our tutors all went to Ivy League schools, got great SAT scores, and have years of experience.”
Fantastic. Now show me the results.
As we’ll discuss later on in this guide, even when these tutors are fantastic teachers, most of them are either “winging it” and working without an actual plan in place, or they’re following a strict company curriculum that doesn’t allow them to use their teaching abilities in the first place.
So, if you are looking for a great one-on-one tutor, find someone with incredibly solid references and consistent results! Those are the only two things that matter!
Many parents, avoiding the sky-high prices and inconsistency of most one-on-one tutors, and the ineffective nature of classes, go for a third (and increasingly popular option): books, software programs, and flashcard sets. In other words, self-study is becoming an increasingly popular option.
The problem with these resources comes down to one very simple point: ‘Accurate Doesn’t Mean Useful’ – and that’s what we’ll cover in the next section!