Tutor Skills Needed More Than Ever For University Study

When students work with a tutor to get a specific result, they may have been receiving this assistance for a number of years. For example, if their area of weakness was Maths and this was identified in mid-primary school, they may have been working with a Maths tutor for two to three years prior to high school. As their results improved, the parent or carer may have decided to continue tuition throughout high school. When all the work and effort is rewarded with excellent results in Year 12, the general feeling is that the job is done, and often, this is when the use of a tutor ceases.

This is not the wisest move, especially if the student is moving directly from high school to university. Dispensing with the expertise that a personal tutor can provide at this point in an academic career can result in the student returning a poor result in the first year of university.

There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, a good tutor doesn’t just turn up for a lesson and hope for the best. Preparation is required to identify the areas of weakness, and develop learning strategies that suit the particular student. Support materials are sourced, and a plan established to lead the student through the subject material.

This is all unseen by the student, who won’t realise the amount of support being provided, as the tutor makes it seem easy. When this support is not available, and they are on their own for the first time in many years, they may struggle with the unseen things that the tutor has taken care of, like time management, keeping focused on a particular learning goal and providing extension activities that sharpened skills.

Secondly, high school in itself is a structured environment where everything runs to a timetable and the students are followed up if scheduled work has not been handed in on time. University is very different. While lectures and tutorials are programmed in at specific times, the onus to attend is on the student, and there is no-one to chase them up if they are missing lectures or not handing in assignments.

After many years of structure, both at high school and in regular sessions with their tutor, a student to whom organisation and structure don’t come naturally will put study off in pursuit of other things such as part time work or leisure activities. They will find planning a chore and generally lack the time management and organisation skills to plot their own course through a semester. Without the skills and support, the student can slip back into below average performance as the academic work becomes harder.

Leaving friends and familiar surroundings at the end of Year 12 to move into the adult world is a daunting prospect in itself. To remove the mentoring and support structure provided by a tutor at this very crucial stage can be the catalyst for unexpected failure in the first year of University.