Thanks to the Internet, the days of being forced into a physical classroom to learn are long gone. But the new standard--online classes--still might not be the ideal solution if you're looking for education that will launch or advance your career. If you haven't considered online tutoring instead of (or at least, in addition to) online classes, here's why you should.
Where online courses still lag
Online courses are quite flexible in that you can "attend" from any location and submit homework whenever you're ready, but they still often are set up at specific times of the day. Those times might not work for busy professionals, especially if the workers have shifts that fluctuate. Online courses can be a problem for military personnel, too, as these individuals need to shift rapidly to accommodate mission needs.
Another issue is lack of personalization. Online courses still only give you one option in terms of an instructor, and that instructor might or might not be a good fit for your learning needs. They can be wasteful in terms of time, too. For example, you might need to sit through an entire semester of an accounting course waiting for just a few key principles. You can end up paying to do work on information you already know. In the same way, you might not be ready to take specific courses for a degree or certificate until you brush up on certain skills or topics. Here, tutoring can fill gaps.
An academic and psychological boost
Considering the above issues, psychotherapist and performance coach David Pearl notes some big advantages of hiring a tutor.
"Engaging with a tutor for career development can carry less of a time and financial commitment than regular schooling. This can lead to a person feeling like it is less risky, and [they] may see more immediate results to advance in the job they're already in. Also, working with someone one on one gives you the opportunity to master a specific skill set that's tailored to your individual needs with the availability of immediate feedback. It can feel psychologically safer to work one on one rather than in a classroom. The relationship with the tutor may allow you to experiment and take risks in a way that you might not feel quite so safe doing in a group."
Gina Smith knows the benefits of online tutoring firsthand. She used Varsity Tutors to prepare for the GRE and going back to school following a career in the Marines. Specifically, she and her tutor worked to improve her math skills, which Smith thought would be her biggest obstacle for the test. Thanks to the tutoring, Smith passed the GRE and was accepted into the Texas A&M University's Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction.
The demand for on-demand
Chuck Cohn, CEO and founder of Varsity Tutors, asserts that online tutoring and on-demand learning is the future for modern workers.
"While a large number of our clients are students in middle school, high school and college who are seeking help with homework, essays and test prep, learning is an integral part of life that extends beyond the traditional classroom setting. The current job market favors employees who have unique skills and deep industry expertise, and a sizable portion of Varsity Tutors' clients are adults seeking expert help in new fields in order to improve their workplace skills or to prepare for graduate school."
To provide some quantification for just how big the demand for online tutoring is, Cohn notes that, since Varsity Tutors started in 2007, the company has logged more than 2 million hours of live instruction from more than 33,000 tutors in across 100 subjects. This includes business relevant coursework such as computer programming, public speaking and presenting and marketing. The business also has raised $57 million from investors, including TCV and musician Adam Levine.
Cohn's competitors, such as Skooli and The Princeton Review, are enjoying success, too. But Varsity Tutors generally has more expert areas, and unlike other companies, you can apply a hybrid online-offline approach, meeting your tutor face-to-face if desired.
So if you're considering going back to school or just need someone to walk you through an hour of work? Smith has some advice.
"If you have had a dream or vision for the way you expected your life to turn out but you haven't been able to reach them yet - for whatever reason - I say make a plan and consider this time as your 'goal-reaching phase of life'. [...] Going for my dreams has helped me transition from military life to civilian life, build my confidence, and find my own identity again. I see this as my time! Make it your time too, because life is short and every moment counts."