Tutoring centers and private tutors are both options to help struggling students or those seeking extra attention. But which is better? The debate has gone on for years, and at the end of the day it comes down to what is best for each individual student. Here we will examine the advantages and disadvantages of both options in the hopes of helping you decide what is best for your specific situation.

Tutoring Centers

There are certainly benefits to private tutoring centers like the widely known Sylvan brand. One benefit of private tutoring centers is that they have their own curriculums and structured learning plans. Another crucial strength of tutoring centers is their ability to diagnose students’ strengths and weaknesses through a variety of tests, which can provide insights into where students are struggling or succeeding. Tutoring centers also provide an atmosphere where tutors work with 2–4 students at a time. This group setting can keep students engaged in the learning process and also allows students the opportunity to help each other if the tutor is occupied with another student.

However, there are serious drawbacks too. Tutoring centers are expensive, sometimes requiring parents to pay upwards of $50 an hour or more. When you consider that the fact that a student’s experience will likely not be one-on-one, you might wind up paying the high price for 15–20 minutes of individual instruction. As for the actual tutors, while most centers do provide training programs, there is no guarantee that tutors will live up to expectations. Also, there is no guarantee of working with the same tutor in each session, which impedes rapport building.

Private Tutors

Individual private tutors are quite different than tutoring centers, though they suffer from some of the same problems as well. Let’s start with one of the best benefits of private tutors: one-on-one instruction. One-on-one instruction allows a tutor to focus all of their efforts on one student’s progress, often leading to a richer experience than group learning. This also means that tutors can individualize assignments and techniques as they develop a rapport with their students individually. Also, when compared to private centers, private tutors are often much cheaper and provide parents with more control over selecting a specific tutor of their liking.

Now for the bad. Individual tutors don’t offer the structured curriculums and diagnostic test that tutoring centers do. While this means the tutor will naturally be more willing to work on the student’s school assignments, it can be argued that this “reactionary” pedagogical style is a Band-Aid like solution that corrects missteps, but doesn’t push students any further. Also, a similar problem of qualification exists among the ranks of tutors. Though it is certainly possible to find a great freelance tutor, at a categorical level you’re looking at a mixed bag. However, if you do your homework and ask the right questions to potential tutors, you can find the diamonds in the rough.

Ultimately, neither of these options will be better for every student. With this information, hopefully you will be able to make the best decision for your own situation.

Would you choose a tutoring center or private tutor for your tutoring needs?