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In-Person vs. Online Tutor: Which Is Right for You?

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In-person vs. online tutor: A stressed student studies alone

Finding a tutor isn't necessarily hard, but finding the tutor who's right for you can take a little extra work. For students who have never had a tutor before, the process can be unfamiliar or even daunting. Many students and adults might also wonder whether to go with in-person vs. online tutors.

Don't worry. When you know what questions to ask, how to weigh your priorities, and which factors to consider, you can decide between in-person vs. online tutor and choose one that suits your needs. If you're ready to start looking for a tutor and you're wondering whether online tutoring or face-to-face tutoring is a better match for you, read on.

What Are the Benefits of Having a Tutor?

In-person vs. online tutor: A tutor helps a student understand a passage in a book

Before we dive into choosing a tutor, let's take a quick look at why working with a tutor is a smart choice. Some people think tutors are only for students who struggle academically. While tutors can provide academic support to struggling learners, they can do so much more.

For students or adults who delve deeper into a subject area, tutors can provide personalized instruction.

For students preparing for important tests like the SAT or AP exams, tutors can provide exam-specific test prep tips that you might otherwise overlook.

And for students who feel like they're working exceptionally hard just to keep up, tutors can provide academic support and give organization and study tips.

Tutoring help is a great choice for any student, whether you need a little extra support with your school work, a few tips for homework help, or are an adult wanting to further your knowledge in a particular field of study.

Still, not all tutors are created equal, and if you want to maximize your gains through a tutor, you'll need to find one that's right for you.

Factors to Consider When Choosing In-Person vs. Online Tutors

In-person vs. online tutor: A student works with a tutor in a library

One of the first choices you'll need to make as you select a tutor is whether you’ll have face-to-face and in-person tutoring or online tutoring. Here are some questions to guide your choice:

1. Do you have consistent internet access?

A strong internet connection is a prerequisite for online tutoring, so if your answer is no, you can start your search for in-person tutoring right away.

2. Do you tend to have more time available in the later evening or early morning hours?

Your availability and schedule can also play a role in deciding where your tutoring takes place. If you're in school, at work, or have other commitments during the day, you might need a tutor with availability in the mornings or evenings.

This can be difficult for face-to-face tutors, but online learning tends to cater to those with tight schedules. This is because online tutors are available in multiple time zones. Also, they aren’t bound by the operating hours of a library or coffee shop where in-person tutors generally hold sessions.

3. Do you live in a metropolitan area, or are you in a more rural setting?

If you're in a densely populated place, you might find plenty of great in-person tutors nearby. But if your community is less metropolitan, you may have trouble finding tutors willing to put in the travel time to get to you. In this case, online tutoring services would likely be a better choice.

The Benefits of Online Learning

In-person vs. online tutor: An elementary-aged student works with an online tutor

Online tutoring isn’t just an option for when in-person tutors aren’t available. ​If your at-home technology can support online tutoring (you need a webcam and a strong internet connection), an online tutor can provide a number of advantages. Let’s discuss how online tutoring can help give you a better academic experience.

More Expertise at Your Fingertips

Everyone’s tutoring goals are unique to them. Maybe you are interested in an unusual field of study, or you know that your learning style is best suited to visual presentations. Or maybe you are preparing for the LSAT. In each of those examples, you will want a tutor who has experience working with students like you.

These may or may not be available in your vicinity, but one of the benefits of online tutoring is the ability to access expertise from far away in your home. Not only will you have more tutors available, but you can also choose from highly qualified tutors with direct experience in the areas you intend to study.

Increased Convenience

Running late for a paid appointment is a horrible feeling, but you're much less likely to be late for tutoring when your only step is logging in on your computer. Online tutoring is more easily accessible and offers more flexible scheduling options — this makes online lessons a convenient solution.

In addition, online learning reduces travel time, as you no longer have to drive to the library or another learning space to meet with a tutor. Instead, both parties can simply log into the platform and get to work.

Ability to Price Shop

Cost is an important consideration for most learners when they search for tutors, but it can be difficult to price shop for in-person tutors. This usually involves interviewing multiple people and discussing rates, cancellation policies, and other details.

When looking for online tutors, these policies are generally listed upfront. You can scroll through multiple tutoring platforms and tutors and easily compare costs.

Benefits of In-Person Tutoring

In-person vs. online tutor: A college student works with an in-person tutor in the library

While online tutoring certainly offers more conveniences, it isn’t for everyone. In-person tutoring offers a few advantages that are difficult to replace. Let’s discuss the benefits of in-person tutoring.

More Personal Face to Face Learning

There is no doubt that some learners just need face-to-face interactions. Body language, facial expressions, and the nuances of tone can be easier to interpret in person.

In addition, hands-on learning is easier to facilitate in face-to-face models. For tactile learners, traditional tutoring might be a stronger option. If you need personal interactions or don’t work well with screens, in-person tutoring is probably the right choice for you.

Ability to Use Existing Relationships

Sometimes, you find a teacher who you just really click with. When this happens and you build a meaningful working relationship, this person can make a great tutor. Sometimes, teachers tutor after school or during breaks from school. If you need a tutor and already know and love a teacher in that subject area, in-person tutoring may be a great match.

Online Tutoring vs. Traditional Tutoring: the Bottom Line

In-person vs. online tutor: A student raises her hand in front of a virtual classroom

There is no universal fit for everyone when it comes to finding a tutor. Some tutors and some tutoring methods will work better for some students than for others. By considering your priorities, your learning style, and the benefits of each tutoring option, you can narrow down your options and choose a tutor that works best for you.

If you decide online tutoring is right for you, be sure to use a reputable online tutoring platform. Sites like TutorMe allow you to search available, qualified, and experienced tutors in real-time to get started immediately. You can even filter your search by subject area or test prep experience. With 24/7 tutoring availability and tech support, you'll find an option to fit your schedule.