Tuesday, December 13, 2005

How to Be A Tuition Teacher Part 2 - Getting Your Students

After the previous post on how to prepare yourself for getting your students, now I'll continue with how to actually go about getting those students.

In Singapore, there are hundreds and thousands of students out there who actually need tuition, or were harangued into it by their parents. ^_^! Your job now, after confirming your credentials, are to actually connect yourself to these students, and there are several ways you can go about doing it.

Free Advertising - Word of Mouth

blogger two057 in a comment to Part One mentioned that another way to get students was the good results of your previous students. Definitely, word-of-mouth is one of the best ways you can get students, since you have other parents who can vouch for your capabilities and spread your number to other parents. This is the best kind of free advertising you can get.

If you are a new, inexperienced tutor though, then you may not be able to draw on this with the same kind of success. However, you can still use some word of mouth to your advantage. Let your friends, parents, acquaintances know that you are going into the tuition business, and let them help you look out for potential students.

Remember though, to spread the news through people who like you, and who are willing to vouch for you. And make sure you can live up to your obligations. It's not beneficial to your social relationships if you taught Mrs Ong's daughter for a year, only to have her fall 20 places in the class ranking. Not to mention if such a thing happens, Mrs Ong can easily spread the news to Mrs Tan, Mrs Lim, Mrs Chai..... word of mouth can definitely work to your disadvantage as well.

If you want to avoid teaching the children of your immediate social circle, or you have no social life at all, then you can try DIY advertising

Do It Yourself

Make your own flyers, advertising yourself. Some may print namecards, but you can probably get the same kind of result printing out a simple flyer on your home printer and then mailing one into every mailbox in your estate. There are a few advantages to this, that you reach a wider audience than if you were to rely on your social circle, and you don't have to lose any of your pay to tuition agency commissions. Also, any students you get would be living around your area, assuming that's where you mailed out the flyers. It's also relatively cheap and easy

Make sure your printer can churn out hundreds of flyers though. You'd need to print out a relatively large number in order to assure yourself of students. And have fun cutting the papers if you want to print out 2 flyers on one A4 sheet.

Some may do a cheaper method and print out one flyer for each block, and stick it to the wall of the lift lobby, with strips of paper with their handphone numbers on it for the potential parents to tear out. There is one caveat to this, however, which is you may find your flyer torn off the next morning by the cleaners, or rival tuition agencies. This I found out the hard way after one afternoon of cycling around my estate. ^_^!

Tuition Agencies - The Pro Way

Tuition agencies are basically middlemen. They connect you, the tutor who needs students, to parents who want tutors. They are also the most common way by which most inexperienced tutors get students.

Essentially what you do is call up the tuition agency, give them info like your name, contact no, qualifications, what level and what subjects you want to teach, your expected fee and, sometimes, when you are free to teach. What the agencies do after that is try to connect you to a parent. Then, they deduct 50% of your first month's pay as their commission. Their numbers are also easy to find in the classifieds.

Mind you, this is all in theory. You may call up dozens and hundreds of tuition agencies, only to receive maybe 2 or 3 potential students about a month later. Then you may find that they will tell you that the pay that the parent is willing to pay is way lower than your expectations. The tuition agency biz is a competitive one, so what they do is offer parents lower tuition salaries [your salary, mind you] in order to attract the parent's commission. This means that your monthly salary will also be lower than what you could've gotten for yourself. And this is after half of your first month's pay has been deducted.

And then there may be other complications, like they may ask you to er, 'enhance' your tuition experience by a year or so. They may also ask you to teach subjects which you never learned, or which you failed miserably in school. They may offer you parents who live crazy distances from where you live.

Most agencies may also seem shady. Mind you, you may never see the agent who gives you the commission, and you may only speak to them over the phone, so be wary of agencies who ask for commissions higher than 50%.

Naturally, if you approach more established tuition agencies, you will not face this problem. But experienced tuition agencies may not give you, the inexperienced tutor, that much opportunities either. When I started out, most of my students came from the agents over the phone, and not the established agencies. In the end, what's more important is that you get connected with a student, and you are able to teach that student for more than a month.

Right, that's all for this installation! See you next week, when I prep you for your first lesson!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Funny Exam Answers

I doubt whether any of our local students are crazy or despondent enough to hand in this kind of exam papers, but apparently some students [somewhere] were. [my favourite is the last one]

Funny Exam Answers from Currytan

Note: Are we allowed to publish students' work online like this? :p Or is it alright as long as we don't show the names?