Tutoring in College

By Alexander Diedrick

Tutoring can get a bad rap when you’re in college. When you tend to think of tutoring, you usually think of high school students getting help in geometry or European history. It doesn’t seem like college students would need tutors because they are more “adults.”

But the truth is that everyone could benefit from tutoring. It’s a relatively simple concept that could vastly improve your grades in just about any subject. You might think that tutors would only be necessary in gen ed subjects like science, but if you can find a tutor, you should consider seeking help in the courses that you are most passionate about.

For example, I attend Columbia College Chicago and have fiction writing as a minor. During my first semester at school, I registered for a fiction writing tutor to help me in the classroom. Never having a tutor before, much less a fiction writing tutor, I didn’t really know what to expect. Would the tutor simply read my stories and tell me which ones sucked the most? Would I be intimidated by the tutor to the point where my work suffered? Do I even know what my “work” is since I’m just getting started as a fiction writer?

On my first day, I was pulled into a closet-like space with my tutor. Over the next two hours, she followed the same format as my fiction writing classes, which included reading other authors’ stories, free writing, word games, and critiquing my own writing. It all seemed very natural, and that’s the sign of a good tutor – they put you at ease with your work.

Afterwards, I was baffled to find out that my tutor was only a year older than me. She had a few more fiction writing classes under her belt than me, sure, but she still knew what she was doing almost as much as one of my professors.

Now, over two years later, I know that I am a better writer because of my experience with tutoring. Classrooms are great, but there is something so much more personal with the one-on-one relationship between tutor and tutee. It’s important for someone who knows more than you to be as familiar with your work as a tutor would because sometimes, especially when you are just getting started as a college student, you need to be told where you need to improve the most…and when your work really does suck (told in a more polite way).

Go and find a tutor, even if it’s just a student in a more advanced class that looks over your work. Even if you don’t think so now, you’ll benefit in the long run.

Alexander Diedrick is a writing intern for myfootpath.com, a free career and education resource for students of all ages.

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