The Difference Between Tutoring and Coaching

Here at State Street, we often get asked what is the difference between tutoring and coaching. This is an important question, and it’s one that parents need to understand when seeking out academic support for a college student.

First, let’s focus on the main objective of each. Tutors are focused on the content of classes; generally, this will be one specific course. For example, if a student needs help learning the material in Calculus or Organic Chemistry, a tutor can help teach, demonstrate, and review class content so that the student better learns in the course. They can focus on specific information and help students better understand what’s being covered in class. 

A coach has a more zoomed out approach. Coaches work with college students to improve the process of their learning, effectiveness, and productivity. By focusing on the process, coaches can help students make gains in areas like organization, planning, time management, and work completion. Coaches work to support students as they learn and develop lifelong skills that the students will need in many areas of life. Coaching can also help students with their confidence, self-esteem, and perception of school. Essentially, coaches are helping students learn how to learn, identify the strategies that optimize their academic work, and become more independent.

So who is the ideal candidate for tutoring? And who is the ideal student for coaching? Tutoring works well for students struggling in 1 specific class or those that need more support in an academic skill area such as reading or math. A tutor can help a student progress in a specific subject, make academic gains, and provide content support that goes beyond the classroom. 

Students that are struggling to manage their work, not meeting the daily demands of school, or often feel stress and pressure are candidates for coaching. This includes students who may be disengaged, overworked, shutting down, or underperforming. Coaching can provide these students with work on the skills and processes that they need to re-establish their independence and improve their academic skills. These students will strengthen their abilities when it comes to homework completion, long-term project planning, notetaking, writing skills, or any other academic challenge.

Tutoring is a great tool to use throughout the course of a semester or year when a class is difficult. Most colleges will even offer some form of free tutoring. It is also great when students encounter a rough patch with a specific class and need a boost to learn concepts and content. Coaching is effective at allowing students to learn skills, practice them, and develop routines, habits, and methods for success. 

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