Want a job that enhances your communication skills, feeds your ego, strengthens your own knowledge and pays ridiculously well? Tutoring, then, might be for you! Let's review the benefits...
--Pays up to $20 an hour
--Works around YOUR schedule (work 3 hours a week!!)
--Increases your understanding of subject matter
--Makes a positive impact on the community
--Free food from parents
Still not convinced? Say you work one hour three times a week for the 36 week course of the school year. That's $60 a week multiplied by 36, giving you a grand total of $2,160. That's a little less than 2/3 the cost of tuition for an instate resident at the University of Florida ($3790). For three hours of work a week.
Let's get started.
Step 1: Deciding What Subject to Tutor
You can tutor academic subjects most successfully, I believe, if you live in a suburban area that's middle class or upper/middle class (concerned parents with money to spend). As for nonacademic subjects, if you are a musician, singer, or artist, your talents might be sought after, but probably not as much as an older person's, meaning you'll have to teach for not much in the way of coin. Heck, even if you have a weird skill that you think people would want to learn (fire dancing, glass blowing, monkey taming), go for it.
These subjects below will probably net you the most customers, in descending order.
1. Math- Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-calc, Calculus, Statistics, Trig, etc...
2. Foreign languages- German, Spanish, French, Latin... (bilinguals and native speakers have a great advantage here)
3. Science- Chemistry, biology, natural sciences, environmental science, psychology, physics, and more
4. Standardized test preparation
5. Social Sciences or history based classes
6. Classes at your school that people have a hard time in but you seem to have a knack for
NOTE: Even if math is not your best subject, if you make good grades and did well in the class, tutoring is still an option. For most junior or senior honor students, the subject matter in algebra I is not going to be challenging. You know that comfortable feeling you get when seeing material that you've already mastered? Algebra I and Geometry is where it's at.
Step 2: Building a Client Base
From here on in, I'll be assuming you'll be tutoring math, for the sake of convenience, though the rules all apply for different subject areas.
I joined Mu Alpha Theta, the math honor society, which put me into contact with a lot of students who needed help (we had to volunteer to tutor twice a semester).
My school actually had a list of students willing to tutor for money available in the guidance department. Find out if your school has one and get your name on it.
Talk to the teachers. There's probably at least four teachers at your school for the same subject of math (two honors and two standard). Give them your name and number, and ask if they have had students inquiring about tutoring, or if they could mention that you're available. Most will be happy to help, as you're indirectly making their lives easier. Students who understand will be more engaged, disrupt less often, and ask fewer questions about previously taught material.
Put up fliers. Your town or city probably has a Publix or comparable shopping center that most moms go to. Type up NEED "MATH/OTHER SUBJECT" TUTORING? in big bold letters, and have some of those tear off phone numbers at the bottom, if you like. Write the subjects you are willing to tutor and your number, email address, and maybe your experience.
You can help some younger friends in math for a little while for free and then ask them to refer you to friends. I actually started tutoring because my friends did their math homework in art class and asked for help.
NOTE: If you plan to do this for several years, you might want to invest in business cards. I think the website vistaprint has FREE business cards plus the cost of shipping. (Or make your own with card stock/thick paper)
Step 3: Rate of Pay
If you are a high school student, these are reasonable rates to expect. These vary of course with your experience and the level of difficulty of the subject you are tutoring.
If you are tutoring _________ you can charge ________
A high school student -- $20/hr
A middle school student -- $15/hr
An elementary school student -- $10/ hr
Twenty bucks is a steep rate, but if you have the credentials to back it up, namely good grades, AP scores, and standardized test scores, you are justified in asking for it. You can go five dollars less on everything if you are just starting out and want to build references. I don't think I would ask for more, but if you believe you're worth it (made a 2400 on the SAT and are teaching that subject) then the worst they can do is say no.
I tutored maybe six or seven people at this $20 rate, and nobody complained. Once you have other people willing to pay you this much, that becomes your standard rate.
NOTE: You can tutor within a family for years, especially one with multiple siblings taking the same subject. That's why it's critical to be polite and do a good job. You end up fostering their loyalty, and they'll refer you to others from there. Also, sometimes you can get year round gigs. It's rare, but there are some extra concerned parents out there.
Step 4: Work Hard for the Money
Once you have a client, it's time for your first session. Make sure you ask them specifically what their problem is. Do they have a hard time on the tests? Is it the material that's difficult? Does the teacher go too fast and not explain enough? This will determine your teaching strategy, whether it will be focused on test preparation or simple review of the subject matter. It will likely be a little of both.
Go over the last test they took with them, and help correct their mistakes and show them what they did wrong. If there is a similar problem on the test, make them correct it themselves.
On homework, use the Socratic method. Ask questions when reviewing practice problem. "Why? How do you know that? What does that tell us?" Lead them on in the problem while making them justify their answers. You need to imbue your students with a thought process, not specific information related to one problem.
Stay one step ahead. If you're tutoring more than one student in the same subject, see if you can borrow a text book from the teacher. You can skim this for ten minutes or so the night before so you don't have to come up with explanations on the spot.
If they have a hard teacher, sympathize with them, and share what you know. Then make them work.
Teach them tricks or things they'll need to know later on. In the case of math, this includes special triangles, prime numbers, and factorials (things that show up time and time again on the SAT). This will add to your credibility. Example- 1/9= .1111 repeating. 2/9= .2222 repeating and so on. This actually proves that .9 repeating = 9/9 = 1. Crazy, no?
Step 5: And Yet More Tips
These are just some nice things you can do for your students.
Advise them if they want about high school matters- their teachers, what classes to take, and what worked for you.
Call to check up after major exams and tests to see how they did. Then go over the test with them when they get it back.
Hook them up with your old review books (SAT/AP/ACT) or school reading. This costs you nothing, makes you look like a hero, and besides, were you really going to read To Kill a Mockingbird again?
(This only applies if you don't have a sibling who could use them. Family should get dibs.)
That's pretty much it. Here's an odd thing, though nice, that I noticed: the parents love you. They are so grateful, even though they're paying you to come to their house. You get free food, beverages, and all sorts of warm fuzzy feelings.
So, now you're ready to enjoy one of the best jobs out there for young people. This has plenty of benefits besides money, too. For example, if you choose to tutor algebra or geometry, you get an in depth review of the math that appears the most on the SAT. Especially if you take the test as a senior, with a couple of years of tutoring behind you, I guarantee you'll get a higher score than if you hadn't bothered. Also, tutoring forces you to think and explain extemporaneously. You'll become skilled at improvisation as well as getting creative enough to explain the same topic several different ways. It also helped me talk to adults in a businesslike setting, increased my confidence in my abilities and diminished my shyness.
Good luck, my padawans! There's no limit to what you can do. A friend of mine got started tutoring in high school and now has his own business with people working under him. That's probably farther than you're going to take it, but who knows?
As always, let me know what you think and what worked for you!