How Do I Prepare For a Tutoring Session?

Tutoring can be the most amazing thing in the world, or one of the most awkward. After five years of tutoring (at Penn and now online), I like to think I have learned how to make sessions better. If you're nervous about meeting a tutor for the first time, here are my best tips for making the meeting go smoothly:

1. Think of your goals for the session. Try to come up with 1-2 questions before the session, so you can make sure those questions will 100% be answered before you leave. If you just say, "I don't know" about a math problem, it will take extra time to figure out what you're having trouble with. Saying you don't know how to solve further will help you get targeted help!

2. Schedule your session wisely. As a writing tutor during finals, I would often get students with 1-2 hours left before the deadline. If the paper had a huge problem, the best I could usually do was help on the introduction and conclusion. Scheduling the session even a few days before could have completely transformed the paper! Similarly, my friends who tutored math said students would try to get help on a topic weeks after it had been taught! If you recognize (or anticipate) a problem, schedule!

3. Print your materials. I know it can get nerve-wracking (especially if you normally don't use tutors), but please remember to bring *anything* you might need for the session. I have tutored students who forgot prompts, computers, and graded papers...and it could have been so much more productive! There have also been wireless problems and low battery, so I would suggest printing out at least one hard copy. (Your tutor will appreciate not having to lean over your computer, too!)

4. Get to the session ahead of time. Many tutoring centers run on a tight schedule, and will require a few minutes for you to sign in. If you come late, you are losing out on your own time. Those last few minutes can be full of breakthroughs, so make sure to come early!

5. Come with an open mind. Even if it can feel like more criticism, your tutor really does have your best interests at heart. If you don't learn the material (or feel like you haven't learned it), you won't come back to that tutor. Don't worry if your questions seem "silly" or "easy": take full advantage of the fact that your tutor isn't grading/judging you. 

If you follow the steps above, you are on track for a great session! Good luck!