Learning Center or Private Tutor?

Quality difference and cost are major factors that determine the choice made for a learning center. This choice ultimately impacts the long-term effects on a student’s educational performance and quality.

Good learning centers assess a student’s academic skills and develop a learning plan tailored to the specific skills gaps for that student. They only teach, reinforce, and practice the specific skills in which a student is weak. They do not help with homework or test preparation, unless it is directly related to the skills being addressed. They use curriculum that has been developed and tested for specific skills. They work closely with parents and teachers to ensure open communication as to the student’s needs and progress. Skill gaps are the reason why children struggle in school. If the skill gaps are not filled, the student will continue to struggle. Sometimes these gaps appear on the SAT, but with some SAT prep services teaching mostly strategy, students are able to ‘get by’. Parents often choose private tutors because they are convenient and help quickly increase grades. Private tutors assist and/or teach the material being taught in the classroom. They help with homework and test preparation. However, private tutoring is often needed for long periods of time while the student attends school. When the student gets to college, this private tutoring support is no longer available and for the first time in the student’s education career, his or her skill gaps are greatly apparent. Private tutors are a quick fix for the skill gaps, pushing them through the grade levels.

Cost — Learning Centers vs. Private Tutors — Which is cost effective in the long run?

Silver Oak programs are designed to identify basic skill gaps and build a plan to fill those gaps. Once these gaps are filled, the students are able to perform at a high level for the remainder of their education and throughout their career. Many students are reaching college with significant basic skills gaps. There is a real cost of time and money for students that are required to take remedial, or No Credit, courses to bring their basic skills to the collegial level. Subpar grades and SAT/ACT scores limit a student’s opportunity to attend the best school for the chosen career. This can have a twofold effect: first, students may not get accepted to the best school for them. This can lead to having to change schools — very costly in both time and money. Second, getting the best education at the best possible school will make a significant difference in the stability and earning power of the student. Students that do not achieve their fullest potential because of subpar grades or SAT/ACT scores, leave valuable scholarship money unattained.

Hourly instructional costs are approximately the same. However, private tutors are needed for much longer periods of time and basic skills are not fixed. This will not allow the student to function without continued support.

In the long run, learning centers are more cost effective because they fix the skill gaps so that the student can do their own homework and prepare for tests more effectively.

Long Term Benefits

Education is the foundation or building blocks in a student’s life. A child will never reach his or her fullest potential with a weak foundation and will always need additional support if skill gaps are not identified and filled.

The lifestyle of Americans today was built by a generation of workers that obtained great basic skills education and then went on to great achievements. This is a value that has been adopted by several other developing countries — Japan, China, and India. They are rapidly closing the gap on the USA as we move backward and they move forward. If this trend continues, the quality of life that we enjoy as Americans today will not exist for our children and grandchildren. The debt levels that our country is amassing now are directly related to the gap of our quality of life and our earning power. The US government has embarked on a path of supporting this country’s lifestyle with a lagging quality of education and work ethic. While it will take many years to visibly see the full effect of this, some signs are already appearing. This quick fix approach is one cause of the fact that college bound students do not have basic skills to learn at the college level and must take remedial courses to catch up. Lucille Davy, former NJ Commissioner of Education, stated in a recent interview — “I wonder how many parents know how many students wind up going to college and then taking remedial courses? At some of the county colleges, it’s up 85 or 90 percent. Four-year schools, about 50 percent of students must take remedial classes in reading and math before they can take classes for credit.” (1) Because of this, skill gaps will continue to plague students for their entire educational career and throughout their lifelong career.

(1) Quote from a Family Magazine interview of the former NJ Commissioner of Education, Lucille Davy.