We learned from a young age that the “right one” makes all the difference.
Goldilocks showed us that porridge can be too hot or too cold, chairs can be too big or too small, and beds can be too hard or too soft. We discovered that when you find something that’s “just right” for you, it changes everything. That “just right” fit fortifies you. It feels satisfying and it provides a restorative strength to help you keep going.
It turns out that “just right” matters in other areas too. When it comes to people available to help you, the extent to which you feel “helped” can be relative to the “fit” between you and that person. Whether it’s your medical doctor, mental health counselor, personal trainer, or academic advisor, it becomes a more productive and supportive relationship if you feel a true connection with the person helping you. If they are useful to you beyond simply providing information, if they “get” you, they become invaluable.
Tutors are a resource that fall into this same category. It’s not just about finding a tutor that knows their stuff, you need to find one who is the right fit to help you excel. If you haven’t fallen for the myths about tutors and you’re ready to stop holding yourself back, you are definitely ahead of the pack. That said, you still need to give some thought to finding the right tutor. Here are three reasons why.
The Right Tutor Understands You
Having a peer tutor who knows you well makes all the difference in the world. Not only do they have a sense of your goals and needs but they also understand your learning style, challenges, and objectives. They know how to speak your language and what makes you tick. They don’t just “get” the material, they “get” you too. This magic combo makes them incredibly well-equipped to help you succeed.
This level of support is only possible through relationship-driven tutoring, where a genuine connection is built with consistency and time. Compared to drop-in tutoring, which may feel impersonal or transactional, working with the same tutor throughout a longer period of time offers regular and focused support that is specifically tailored to your needs. It’s the difference between working with a personal trainer with whom you don’t click and working with one who knows how to fire you up for your workouts. With the right tutor, you get guidance, support, accountability, advice, and instruction. A coach like this quickly becomes your secret weapon for success.
The right tutor isn’t just someone who knows you well, but someone with whom you feel a sense of security. You don’t worry if you get things wrong in front of them and you aren’t stressed about asking a question for the third time. If you make a mistake, they’ll understand how you got there and redirect you. You’re able to be honest, which takes the pressure off and makes for a more productive working relationship. Basically, it’s someone with whom you can just be yourself.
The Right Tutor Provides a Bridge
The right tutor provides a bridge between your current knowledge and the next level of understanding a given course demands. Since they don’t suffer from the curse of knowledge, they can show you how to get from where you are to where you want to be. As a translator and guide, the right tutor eliminates the feeling that you have to make this journey alone. This makes a huge difference because, let’s face it, some bridges can be pretty intimidating.
The right tutor is also a bridge that helps you feel connected to your school. They understand the student experience of your college or university as well as they do the class you are taking or the professor you are taking it with. They can relate to what you are going through and can offer tips about campus resources or other tools to help you succeed. With the right tutor, you get campus, academic, and personal support in an informal and casual way. Knowing there is someone on campus who “gets you” and is a good resource can be reassuring. It may even be a relief. With this secret weapon in your back pocket, you’ll feel more confident and empowered to take on your classes and find your place on campus.
If you find the right peer tutor, they can also become a bridge between you and faculty. If you’re nervous about how to talk to a professor, they can offer advice. They’ll have tips on how office hours work and how to get the most out of them. If you’re taking a class with an instructor your tutor has taken before, they can orient you to the course as well as the instructor’s style and expectations. This kind of guidance helps you do more than just pass a class — it gives you the inside track on how to navigate college with ease.
The Right Tutor Goes Above & Beyond
Any tutor can try to help you understand the course material, but the right tutor goes one step more and equips you with strategies and skills that make you a better student. More than helping you find the answer for the problem in front of you, they can help you learn the skills to find the answers for questions ahead.
The right tutor can also help you unearth the lies about learning that you may not even realize you believe. These might be keeping you in an unsuccessful loop, running in circles trying to do well in your classes but coming up short. Finding the right tutor can also take the pressure off and show you ways to make learning less intimidating and more fun. This skill can reduce your anxiety and improve your academic performance, giving more room for you to feel confident and demonstrate what you know. Once you’ve unlocked the Super Mario Effect, you’ll really be ready to achieve success.
Written by Priya Thomas
Priya Thomas is a wellness and leadership development director and consultant with 15 years of experience in higher education and student affairs. Her expertise includes wellness, mental health, student leadership and involvement, and fraternity and sorority life. She enjoys discovering local restaurants, travel, and learning new things. Connect with her on Twitter.