Academic Challenges in Today’s Challenging World
ADD, ADHD, Autism, Asperger’s Asyndrome, Traumatic Brain Injury
ACT, SAT, LSAT, GRE, GMAT, or MCAT
Many students and parents have a very limited idea of what tutoring is all about in the 21st Century. The days of the $5 an hour high school-aged tutor coming in after school for a bit of homework help are behind us.
Today’s pre-school, elementary, middle school, high school, college, graduate, and professional school students’ needs have grown exponentially over the last two or three decades. In an era that demands specialization, particularly in math and science-related areas (to include computer science), many students lack even basic communication skills. Significantly, the “video generation” is falling behind in a number of key academic areas…and there seems to be little hope of a remedy any time soon.
Interestingly, our education system appears to be floundering under the weight of increased class size, an emphasis on standardized testing, and a lack of funding. The focus on specialization, instead of emphasizing creative thought and the ability to write well, is having a profound impact on today’s youth…and it is not positive. I am afraid we will end up with a generation of specialists who are unable to think creatively, read and write well, think outside the box, to use a gobbledygook word, and see the big picture. In other words, we will be left with a generation, if not several generations, of specialists unable to think holistically and perform creatively.
Frankly, the thought frightens me…I hope it frightens you!
Tutoring has grown into a profession over the last decade and most professional tutors offer everything from disability services, education-related counseling, online academic services, standardized test preparation, and various forms of student support.
Not only do today’s professional tutors offer access to state of the art computers, desktops and laptops, as well as the associated software, they also invest in and offer access to relevant, education-related membership sites. Additionally, the professional tutor and/or tutoring service must also invest in and offer a substantial library of supplemental material (e.g., textbooks, literature, periodicals, etc.). The investment of time is crucial. Time is most precious and it routinely takes 2-3 hours to adequately prepare for a properly planned tutoring session.
Aside: Fortunately, many teachers still insist their students conduct research offline and a professional tutor will have a myriad of textbooks, periodicals, and relevant material at his or her disposal for their students’ use.
A qualified professional tutor will undoubtedly have an undergraduate degree. In many instances, a professional tutor will have an advanced degree. Optimally, a qualified professional tutor will be comfortable across a wide variety of academic disciplines. It is often the case that students require support across a number of disciplines (i.e., courses, subjects, etc.) and for more than one academic period.
The cross-discipline support is particularly necessary when working with students dealing with such learning disabilities as ADD, ADHD, Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, traumatic brain injury (TBI), etc.
Hiring a tutor unfamiliar with the demands related to disability services for such students is almost always a waste of time and money and may be costly to the child’s well-being, as well.
The Alphabet Soup of Academia:
GED, PSAT, SAT, ACT, LSAT, GRE, GMAT, MCAT, TOEFL, PRAXIS, USMLE, ASVAB, etc.
Unfortunately, standardized testing seems to be here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. Consequently, talented educators at every level are forced to teach to test, an unsatisfying and unproductive endeavor, at best. Teachers are held to an unrealistic standard and test results are often tied to wages, job security, and tenure (the topic of another article). Students’ performance on standardized tests for everything from overall proficiency to the right to graduation (i.e., OGT—Ohio Graduation Test) means there is often little time for anything else…anything other than teaching the canned test taking techniques, that is.
In my opinion most of these tests are set to an arbitrary standard, culturally biased, and absolutely unfair.
The GED, PSAT, SAT, ACT, LSAT, GRE, GMAT, MCAT, TOEFL, PRAXIS, USMLE, ASVAB, and so on were once considered appropriate, even cutting edge. The tests listed above are an alphabet soup of tests created to measure intelligence, proficiency, aptitude, and ability. The tests listed above are, in almost every instance, no longer even purported to do what was once claimed. The GED is arguably the only test listed above with some redeeming value…a second chance at a high school diploma.
The pre-college, college, professional school, and graduate school entrance tests (i.e., PSAT, SAT, ACT, LSAT, GRE, GMAT, and MCAT) are now an industry in and of themselves and the acronym is now the test’s sole name. The SAT is no longer the Scholastic Aptitude Test; it is simply the SAT…and so on.
Aside: Interestingly, when the State of California’s university system considered no longer requiring the SAT as part of their admissions process, the SAT writing segment was born. Talk about pull and a purely business decision!
All that being said, the ACT, SAT, LSAT, GRE, GMAT, and MCAT are part of the admissions process for colleges, universities, graduate schools, and professional schools across the nation. In order to prepare for the appropriate entrance test, whether it’s the ACT, SAT, LSAT, GRE, GMAT, or MCAT, a professional tutor is a must.
With intense competition for admission to the nation’s best schools, and equally intense competition for financial aid in the form of scholarships, grants, assistantships, and fellowships, an investment in a professional ACT, SAT, LSAT, GRE, GMAT, or MCAT, as stated above, tutor is a must. Selecting the right tutor is an investment that will pay dividends for years to come.
In fact, even the classroom-type test preparation is better than nothing…but just barely!
Ultimately, a private and completely individualized program, a one-on-one program tailored to the specific needs of the student is ideal. A program offering the above-mentioned features and focusing specifically on the appropriate test is optimal (ACT, SAT, LSAT, GRE, GMAT, or MCAT).
Tutoring has come a long way from the days of the high school student who just wanted to make a few extra bucks after school or the housewife who was “pretty good” in English a few years ago and is trying to supplement the household income. The professional tutor of today must be a well-educated, well-rounded expert. The professional tutor of today must be comfortable working with people under myriad conditions and across any number of different situations.
Finally, the professional tutor must be comfortable with a stressed-out, gifted middle school student going down in flames in advanced geometry, a medical student about to fail gross anatomy, a high school athlete in need of an “A” in chemistry to achieve the required GPA for a full ride to Ohio State and he’s failing 12 weeks from the end of the year, and the high school junior with a 282 on the Critical Reading section of the SAT and has to do better to get into the school of his dreams.
Follow up: The gifted middle school geometry student scored a 100 on his first test after starting working with Westside-Tutoring…and hasn’t looked back! The medical student is now called Doctor by his patients. The high school student needing an “A” in chemistry decided on another Big 10 school, “that one up North!” And the high school junior with the 282 on the Critical Reading section of the SAT? Well, he got a 610 on the Critical Reading section of the SAT on his first try after joining us!
There are so many stories like these, it is truly wonderful!
Are there disappointments? Certainly!
But then…that’s life!
I will say this, any student willing to put in the time and the effort, and blessed with parents willing to allow the process to unfold, as it always does, will succeed. That is, if they are fortunate enough to find a professional tutor, the right tutor able to make it all happen. It can be amazing…and I’ve been doing this for over 30 years!
Tutoring is a wonderful calling, and it is a calling, incredibly challenging and heartbreaking. I wouldn’t do anything else!
For information about the services offered by Westside-Tutoring and Educational Services contact us anytime.
Professor John P. J. Zajaros, Sr.
Westside-Tutoring and Education Services
Serving Northern Ohio for Over 30 Years!
440-821-7018 (private live)