Plenty of Reasons to Engage a Tutor (3) – Academic Guidance

In the final part of this series (Part 1 – the tutor as ‘mentor’ / Part 2 – ‘parental engagement’ in the tutoring process), we explore the tremendous value of a Book Smart tutor in terms of ‘academic guidance’, as provided to both student and parent.

By ‘academic guidance’, we mean a much more diverse approach than consideration of set school curriculums. The approach reflects the myriad of pathways and options that are available to many students in today’s educational sphere. Some offerings are understandably mandatory (core courses and prerequisites), while quite a few are hidden gems, not widely known or freely ‘advertised’.

Students may miss realization of their talents and potential, plus rewarding experiences, when they follow a school guidance counsellor’s ‘conventional wisdom’ that likely is slavish to the median. This is why, even in elementary grades, students need to be carefully assessed for their respective capabilities. Planning, and a look at options, with a tutor’s insight and assistance, really cannot happen too early, while remaining mindful always that the exercise is one of facilitation, and not restriction except as limited by the school system.

Even then, school boards do respond to overtures and clear indications of individuality and ability. A classic example is the ‘arts school’, where fine and theatre arts, and music instruction, are available within a study body made up of applicants who have through a series of assessments demonstrated talent that often is matched by above average academic performance. The key word here is ‘applicant’. Admission is not automatic, and applicants need to position themselves for acceptance. Most parents, and likely many teachers, are not aware of the elementary and middle school ‘International Baccalaureate’ programs that in certain school boards reach into primary school grades. A tutor can greatly assist focused preparation for a highly competitive entrance exam for that and other exceptional opportunities. The assistance often doesn’t stop there. Tackling a keenly competitive curriculum often requires professional teaching help outside the classroom.

These planning initiatives always take place with an eye to post-secondary education, and that objective is a whole area unto itself. In Ontario, the most recent grade averages for matriculation to leading universities and colleges hover around the mid 80’s, embracing the top third of a graduating class. Sustaining such a level of performance typically has a Book Smart tutor directly involved, although in Grade 12, the student also can be faced with submission of an essay or a video interview as part of an admissions process (and scholarship applications). Success with these challenging aspects can be the difference that results in acceptance of that ‘first choice’, and tutors can, and do, help make that vital ‘difference’.

Book Smart Tutors continues to recognize the complexity of the ‘guidance’ process, particularly that it is anything but passive. Opening a succession of ‘right doors’, and passing through every one, takes some doing, and tutors in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal are readily available with the ‘keys’.

(Robert MacFarlane is a graduate of Princeton University, and has been associated with Book Smart Tutors for several years. This is the FINAL part of a series that explores education and the role of tutoring in supporting and enhancing a student’s academic experience and achievement.)

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