You’ve got a part-time job, a full college course load, and you’re on your way. But that calculus class is turning out to me a really tough nut to crack. In order to maintain your grade point average, and save your mental energy for everything else, it may be time to try tutoring.


In the old days, in-person tutoring was your only option. In the digital age, you have a wide variety of tutoring choices. So how do you choose between in-person and online tutoring? Weigh the pluses and minuses of each tutor type before choosing, or try both to decide which is best for you.


In-Person Tutoring – Personal Face Time


The obvious advantage of an in-person tutor is proximity. Your tutor is literally there for you, in the same room. Your tutor knows your school’s individual curriculum and its teachers. An in-person tutor also gets to know you and your study habits over time.


Online tutors communicate with you over Skype, but that’s not the same as personal human interaction, and today’s digital devices separate us more often than bring us together. You’ll develop a working relationship with your in-person tutor, and they will quickly identify your learning habits and adjust their tutoring methods to help you.


But what if your tutor is ill and you need to cram for the mid-term math test? Or maybe your other courses pushed you into a corner, and you need help immediately. In-person tutors are great for a fixed schedule over time, but when push comes to shove, online tutors are available any time.


Online Tutoring — Convenience


Convenience is the biggest advantage of an online tutor. A digital world of online tutors awaits when you need last-minute help for that major test, or just need to shuffle your busy schedule. Online tutoring agencies match your needs with a wide range of skilled tutors, 24 hours a day.


Online Tutoring — Choice


An online tutoring agency matches the experts with the students. You choose the schedule, the agency finds your tutor. Your math tutor may not be able to help you with your French homework, so find two tutors in one agency, even if they are miles apart.


Maybe you really want to get into a certain University. Find an online tutor alumnus from your chosen school to get the best-qualified tutor, one who knows your school from top to bottom. You also have regular access to your online tutor, even if one of you moves to another city.


Online Tutoring – Expertise


Most tutoring agencies rigorously screen their tutors to find the people best qualified for the job. This means you can always turn to another expert for help if your regular tutor is ill.


Finally, it all comes down to you. How do you learn best? Do you love software and digital solutions? Do you prefer personal meetings? Some tutoring agencies claim there is no difference between screen time and face time, but beyond the marketing message, only you know what’s best for you. The best way to find out is to try both types of tutor.


For many first-generation students — students who are the first in their family to attend college — post-secondary education is a huge deal. They’re taking a different path than the rest of their family, one that their parents may not understand or even support. In many cases, they have more financial stresses than other students and may also feel like they don’t belong on campus. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources to help first-generation students adjust to college life.


Not every first-generation student comes from a low-income family. However, the National Education Longitudinal Study found that first-generation students are more likely to have dependent children, not receive financial help from family, and come from a lower-income family than students with parents who have degrees. Clearly, this puts them at a disadvantage right from the start.

There are several methods for getting funds. The most obvious (and first) step to take is applying for as many grants and scholarships as possible. If the amount received still isn’t enough, there are ways to make money while going to college. For example, you can try doing a work-study program. Also, many courses are available online, which makes it easier for students to schedule classes around their work schedule.  

Family Relationships

For many students who come from a family of college graduates, getting a post-secondary education is expected. This isn’t always the case for first-gen students. Their parents may not see the value of attending college. For other first-gen students, their parents may be proud of them but not understand just how much work college really is. This translates to less emotional support, which adds even more stress. 

The only real solution here is communication. If possible, students can include their parents in discussions with the high-school guidance counselor or precollege staff. If it’s too late for that, telling mom or dad “I just want you to say I can do it” can help them know how to help you.

Fitting In on Campus

It’s common for first-gen students to feel as if they don’t belong on campus. Things that come naturally to other students, such as talking to professors, may be confusing. Income inequality is noticeable in casual conversations. For example, a first-gen student may have nothing to say when her wealthier classmates discuss their latest trips to Europe or the Caribbean. Sometimes professors unwittingly ask questions that make first-gen students feel uncomfortable. For example, while getting to know students in the class, they may ask everyone what their parents do for a living.

Building a support system is the best solution. Student-run organizations for first generation students are popping up in colleges across the states, including Ivy League schools such as Harvard and Yale. These organizations create a community on campus, provide social and financial resources, and give first-gen students a voice. When choosing a school, first-gen students should do some research to figure out which ones have well-developed support programs.

Attending college can be challenging for first-generation students. They may feel as if they’re trapped between two worlds without belonging to either one. However, it’s definitely possible to graduate and even have fun in college by asking for help and looking for like-minded people.