Can Tutors Get You A’s?

The New York Times recently published an article titled, “Push for A’s at Private Schools is keeping Costly Tutors Busy.” The article cites a recent trend where wealthy families who have kids enrolled in private schools, spending a large sum of money on tutoring for private subjects and SAT instructions. One woman said she had paid, “$750 to $1,500 each week this school year for 100-minute sessions on Liberal Studies, a total of about $35,000 a year.” This is not counting the $40,000 per year tuition certain private schools can charge. Admission into college has certainly become competitive over the years, and it’s understandable why some parents would spend that much money.

Drawing from my personal experience, I can safely say that Chinese parents share similarities with the wealthy American families mentioned here. Growing up in China it was routine for parents to hire tutors. If the child was doing well academically it wouldn’t matter how much money they spent. When parents didn’t have the money to afford tutors, relatives would often help out. In China, a child’s academic performance is strongly tied with future financial success. Investing in a child’s education is also investing in the family, as it is expected for the child to take care of the parents when they become older. China’s one child policy is forcing many families to be concerned about their future well being, and in turn, the expectation for Chinese children to succeed has become even greater.

I was fortunate enough to be tutored on a variety of subjects at an early age, and I have a Mom who spared no expenses for SAT prep courses when I was in high school. So this subject hits close to home, but by no means was my single mom wealthy. I can say that no matter how much parents spend on private school tuitions or private tutoring sessions, it becomes meaningless if the child has no willingness to learn. If a child’s priority is partying or being popular and just refuses to study, it wouldn’t matter the amount of money spent on tutors because you can’t force someone to learn. It is true that expensive tutors can help students gain an edge academically, but that edge can never beat a student who has the burning desire to learn and willing to make great sacrifices in order to get that A.

What are your thoughts?

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2 Responses to “Can Tutors Get You A’s?”


  1. 1 Sarah June 21, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    I can understand desire to give SAT tutoring as it is a very strategy driven test that you need to learn tip on rather than retaining much added knowledge. I really think that far too much is wasted on that enterprise though because it is merely strategy and practice driven and not at all an actual barometer of how smart anyone is.
    As for tutoring in regular academics, that I can actually understand more. Sometimes a way a student learns does clash with the way that it is taught by a teacher and they do need someone else to come in a teach them in a way that will help them learn.
    Anyone paying money to that extreme though, clearly has a child that doesn’t want to learn. I understand when it’s one class where the kid would need the help, but that many tutors does imply a lack of resolve though.
    As for the blog, keep plugging away Hao. You’re doing well so far. The only thing that I can think of is perhaps defining your focus a bit better. Good luck though! Rooting for you.

  2. 2 Mao's Army June 23, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    Thank you for your comment and suggestions. You offer very good insights to this issue. Keep following my blog, and I would appreciate if you can subscribe as well ;o)


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