Is there ever a time when I tell a student or parent not to schedule tutoring? Yes! It is rarely a good idea for a failing or struggling student to come to a tutor the night before an exam—not good for the student, not good for the tutor. The student stressed to the point of not being able to focus. Often, the student has been shown two ways to solve two different, but similar, problems and is mixing up the two methods. The student is often angry with the course, the professor, etc., and, clearly, frustrated. Secondly, the student now has to open up to a stranger, conveying reasons for not understanding, reasons for failing, etc., and that is an emotionally vulnerable place to be in the night before an exam and that can lead to covering. Third, because the student is meeting with an unknown tutor, students/parents predictably schedule less than one hour of time (often 30 or 45 minutes), when three would have been much more appropriate. However experienced and composed, the tutor will not have enough time to build a rapport with the student, calm the student, and re-teach the student. Then the student loses faith in the tutor and tutoring process.
I like exceptions to rules. If you really want tutoring the night before an exam, then:
- Have the student talk with the tutor for 15-30 minutes at the time the reservation is made.
- Resolve simple problems before tutoring (e.g., how to get into radian mode).
- Reserve 2-3 hours of the tutor’s time to prepare for a single chapter test.
Tutors can avoid this very uncomfortable scenario by asking new clients the date of the student’s next exam. Tutors should issue a disclaimer that it is generally not a good idea to get tutoring the night before (or the day of) an exam.