I met with a prospective tutoring client this past weekend, and any time I meet with a new student I’m intrigued by the questions that he or she asks. The questions that you ask tend to illuminate your priorities. There are good questions, better questions, and bad questions, but the one question that comes up most is cost. How much will it cost?
Now my particular experience may be skewed by the fact that I offer premium services that some people cannot afford. But, cost is most often viewed in two ways:
1. Can I afford this?
2. Do I want to pay this much for this?
The first concern is obviously valid, although I’ve found those that doggedly pursue what they want and are creative about finding solutions run into those obstacles less often than most. The second question is the one we really want to refine, because the chances are pretty good the amount you’re spending is not a good match for your needs.
The questions you should ask are as follows:
1. How do I learn best?
2. What study plan best matches my life?
Offerings in the test prep space are extremely varied, and almost everyone can find something that fits. But start with how you learn. Do you prefer to take information in passively? If you prefer to sit in the back of a lecture class or read a book about a subject, you might be a passive learner and a small group or 1-on-1 experience may do you more harm than good. If that’s the case, a Barron’s prep course that you can do at home or take with you on your phone might be a fantastic option.
On the other hand, you might learn best by having a conversation about topics and the ability to ask questions. If that’s the case a personal tutor might be the best route for you. A prep class would fall in the middle of these two learning styles.
If you’re looking at what matches your life, for some people showing up to a prep class a couple times a week might seem easy. Others need the freedom that videos on the phone might bring. A personal tutor who can work with your schedule falls somewhere in the middle.
All of these options are going to have different costs, but I think it’s essential to start by considering what method works best and then figuring out what fits best cost-wise rather than doing that calculation in reverse.