Saturday, November 3, 2012

Weekend Thirsty: Private Tutoring Fees

They won't show up to class, so it goes without saying that they won't show up to their tutoring appointments either.

Q:  For those of you who do private-tutoring, have you ever considered charging a "new-student fee" or a "retainer-fee" for new clientele?  The thought has crossed my mind from time to time as a way of ensuring income since students are notorious for no-showing.


  1. I tutored when I was in grad school. I never charged a retainer fee but I told the students that if they didn't give me at least 24 hours notice for a no-show, I would need to charge them. If they didn't pay up, they could find another tutor. (Given that I was one of the only decent tutors on campus in that subject area and in fairly high demand, there was weight behind that threat.) I still had the occasional no-show but they would let me know ahead of time.

    I miss those days. On the topic of tutoring but unrelated to your question, I found a pretty good way of charging students. I charged $30/hour for one person, $40/hour if they wanted to bring a friend, and $45/hour for 3 people. You would be surprised how well this worked; people would almost always come in groups of 2 or 3 and during exam periods I was taking in at least $1000/week. Of course, if there is low demand for tutoring in your area, this will torpedo your ability to charge students separately.

  2. One of my children has a math tutor. She pays the tutor in advance from the money she makes working a crap job. Can you guess how many sessions she's missed?

    Answer: An argument at which the value of a function vanishes.

    1. I can almost always tell which students in class pay their own tuition.

  3. There's too much competition for that to work unless your reputation is *very* high, and it's awkward logistically anyway.

    Better to see the first session as a paid interview in my view. If you "pass" and they want to use you again, then you could start taking the money in advance and charging for no shows. Giving a small discount for a block of sessions is also a good idea.

  4. Tricky question. I have no direct experience, but the suggestions above sound good to me. I suspect this is one of the ways in which tutoring companies and/or tutoring brokers (of which there seem to be several in our area, but it's a large, wealthy metropolitan area) earn their cut: because they do the scheduling (and often offer discounts for blocks of time), they're also in a better position than individual tutors to enforce cut/cancellation fees.

    If there aren't a lot of tutors in your area, you might want to investigate the practices of people in similar positions. The first that comes to mind is music teachers who give private lessons.

  5. I think it really depends on the person on where he learns best. Some finds learning with others quite difficult, they prefer long island private tutoring they get to learn things at their own pace. It's the advantage of private tutoring. So, I guess it doesn't imply that when someone doesn't go to class, he wouldn't attend to private tutoring either.

  6. As a tutor, you have to make arrangements with your student, especially for not showing. There are times that you must charge them for not showing up, unless they notify you beforehand. I don't ask for a retainer fee, but some parents are giving me tokens of their appreciation, especially when their kids are performing well at their academics.