“Tell me, and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

Benjamin Franklin

Tutoring, or supplemental instruction, has become more and more common as we progress through the 2000s. With growing competition to get into the best university bachelor programs or private high school, parents and students are turning to academic support to increase their marks.

It isn’t just grades that are affected when a tutor enters your life. Excellent teaching can be a life-changing experience. Why? Because they will not only give you knowledge, they will inspire you to know more, to challenge yourself and the world. Great teachers take you under their wing and show you that you can master ideas and create new ones.

Today teaching has come to a point in societal evolution that it can be accessed online – anytime, anywhere if you own a computer and have an internet connection. Let’s look at online tutoring services and how to find the best tutor for you, how much it will cost, the equipment you’ll need to have the most productive experience, and how a private tutorial should go.

Let’s begin with what you need to own first!

What Materials Do You Need for Online Private Tutoring Sessions?

The best online tutors use the computer as a virtual whiteboard, bring all subjects to life.
The best online tutors use the computer as a virtual whiteboard, bring all subjects to life. Source: StockSnap

There are three primary benefits to tutoring online:

  1. They are convenient: no travel is required for either the tutor or the tutee. You can learn from the comfort of your home.
  2. They are flexible: you can have a lesson any day or time. You don’t have to observe office hours or make an appointment. You can email them and set up the virtual classroom.
  3. It’s cheaper: tutors online are by and far more affordable than home tutoring because of the competition. There are thousands of tutors vying for your business online, and there are very few barriers to entry. Online tutorials are generally 30% cheaper than learning at tutoring centres or study groups.

Let’s get back to what you need to own to make the most of your online tutorial.

Very simply, you will need a computer and a high-speed internet connection. Most computers that are under five years old have high definition screens and good quality internal microphones. You can go with a PC or a Mac, in either a desktop format or a laptop. Tablets or phones will not give you a full enough screen and voice/picture quality to make learning online optimal.

Another item to consider is your computer should have a big enough CPU (central processing unit) to run video conferencing software. The most popular are Skype and Google Hangout. You may want to test this beforehand with a friend by downloading one of these free software packages, and see how your computer responds.

A good habit is to log on to your computer 15 minutes before your scheduled tutoring appointment so that it can perform any software updates.

Doing this will ensure you are ready when the tutor is for your lesson.

Your internet connection is another critical piece of the equipment puzzle. Your internet speed needs to be fast enough to not buffer during the video call, to be able to reach real academic achievement. The video takes lots of bandwidth, so you will want to have a 30Mbits/s connection to ensure a high-quality video call.

You can check your internet speed here on Speedtest.

Another important piece is ensuring your microphone and webcam are good enough so your tutor can both see and hear you well.  If you are in the middle of a language tutoring session and the audio drops out, you will miss valuable instruction and time with your tutor. The same is true if you have a math tutor who is showing you calculus, trigonometry or algebra concepts on screen and the video is too weak for you to read the equations.

What Is It Like To Have An Online Tutoring Session?

Individual private tutors cannot guarantee student success. However, if you give your private tutor all your requirements, they can assist and improve your academic performance.
Individual private tutors cannot guarantee student success. However, if you give your private tutor all your requirements, they can assist and improve your academic performance. Source: KokomoCole

As in all tutoring services via learning centres, peer tutoring groups, one-on-one tutoring, etc. Your online tutor needs to know your objectives and timeline for instruction to be effective.

Questions you can expect from your tutor are as follows:

  1. What subject or subjects are you studying? Math, science, chemistry, English, biology, anatomy and physiology, French, etc.
  2. At what academic level are you currently enrolled? Primary, elementary, high school, college level, graduate programs?
  3. What do you want to get out of the tutoring session? Test prep, exam review, homework help, note taking, or writing skills.
  4. Will you need the tutor to help in the short term or long-term?
  5. How do you learn best? Audibly, visually or kinetically?
  6. What are the areas that you struggle in most?
  7. When are the best times for you to schedule your sessions?

From there, the tutor can adapt the lessons to your needs. Just like a traditional face-to-face tutorial, most lessons will follow this format:

  • Review of the school lesson to ensure concepts are understood and clear.
  • Exercises to assess retention
  • Corrections to exercises
  • Additional homework assignments to ensure you are ready for the next lesson.

Of course, you can always amend this format and include other things you would like to cover, like study habits, SAT studying, or time management.

Studying with a tutor online or as part of a tutoring centre is much the same. The only real difference is your tutor isn’t in the same room as you when it’s online. Check out our list of the best online tutoring services in Canada.

How Do You Find an Online Tutor?

Make an appointment with an online tutor on one of several reputable tutoring websites.
Make an appointment with an online tutor on one of several reputable tutoring websites. Source: StartupStockPhotos

Now that you know what kind of tutor you want, it’s time to search the three most popular ways to source one;

  1. Classified ad sites: Craig’s List or Kijiji, tutors post their experience on the website and you can call and have a phone interview or video conference. You may also advertise for a tutor on these sites. However, keep in mind, you can’t verify their credentials and you are going on trust more than anything.
  2. Academic support centres: these groups like Kumon, Oxford Learning, or Mathnasium will interview and vet their tutoring staff ahead of time. You will get a guaranteed quality tutor this way. The rates though is usually the highest in the industry as the overhead is extensive.
  3. Online tutoring platforms like Superprof or First Tutor: Canada. On these, you can find a tutor for your subject, in your immediate area, work online or in-person with them, and review their experience and previous client's ratings. They also often provide the first tutoring hour for free. That’s free online tutoring, which is almost unheard of! The rates for online tutors are quite economical, averaging less than a tutoring centre by 30% or more.

Have a look at each avenue and then chose the one that best suits your academic skills and needs, your budget, and your timeline.

How Much Does Online Tutoring Cost?

The best online tutorial services make learning fun and improve student’s self-confidence.
The best online tutorial services make learning fun and improve student’s self-confidence. Source: StartupStockPhotos

Online tutorials tend to be the most affordable because there is no travel involved for either party, saving time for each. There are no centres to pay for office space, nor is there a middleman like a tutoring program vetting the tutor or sourcing them. Online tutors can also schedule more tutoring lessons and can, therefore, maximise their time. They can even charge by the minute for homework assignment questions.

It‘s a perfect time if you are thinking of becoming a tutor, either as a part-time or a full-time occupation. There is no teaching experience required. You need expertise in one subject (verified by school grade or a college/university diploma) and the ability to translate that experience into lessons that can be easily absorbed by your students.

Become a tutor and post your picture, subject matter expertise and rates on Superprof or other online tutoring sites and watch your students reach for academic excellence with you or even ivy league educations.

Or offer assistance to special needs students, an English language institute, or secondary schools to help build your resume before you launch your new career. You want to provide academic excellence at the best rate, so prep your student services first and then hit mainstream education by applying to all three tutoring avenues.

It’s easier than it has ever been to be one of the best tutors online or in person. The world can communicate globally in seconds over the internet. Take advantage of technology and start a new career. It won’t take long and it can be extraordinarily rewarding!

If you would like to learn more about the online tutoring world, check out our article on getting ready for an online tutoring session.

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I am a Freelance Writer from Toronto with two teenage boys who keep me laughing and perpetually learning.