“A tutor can prepare you for a test on Friday, an academic coach can prepare you for a lifetime of learning”

Each time a new student steps into our offices I ask the very same question, “Do you understand the difference between academic coaching and tutoring.” Nine times out of ten the student says no and probably 5 of those 9 say they never heard of academic coaching before that day. While tutoring and academic coaching do have certain similarities, they are completely different animals.  

  1. Tutoring is Subject Specific – parents seek tutors who are experts in a particular subject such as biology or algebra.  The session targets this subject alone by re-teaching concepts or using a different approach than how it was taught in school.
  1. Academic Coaching uses a Comprehensive Approach -The goal of academic coaching is to teach the student a variety of strategies and skills to increase academic success based on their individual needs.  Academic coaching commonly focuses on study skills, homework completion, organization, time management, building self-advocacy and various other skills.
  1. Academic Coaching May Include Life Skills Development – An integral facet of academic coaching is helping students become independent, resilient self-advocates while tutoring focuses solely on developing skills in one academic subject.
  1. Academic Coaching is Not A Quick Fix – A tutor is adept at addressing a particular skill or concept in preparation for an assessment, and teaching foundations skills.  Academic coaching takes time because it involves many moving parts, breaking bad habits, and replacing them with better, more efficacious habits.
  1. Type of Student – Students who seek academic coaching may be underachieving in many, or all, academic subjects. Usually, understanding concepts is not the issue, it is a weakness in executive functions such as time management, prioritizing, organization, pre-planning, working memory and problem solving to boost grades. Academic coaching is perfect for students who are under achieving due to an obstacle such a learning disability, ADHD, Asperger’s, and anxiety issues. Tutoring is best for students who are having trouble understanding concepts in a particular subject.

Because breaking bad habits and replacing them with better ones takes time and patience, students who work with an academic coach are in it for the long haul, whereas tutoring is more for the here and now. Many students work with an academic coach on an ongoing basis and supplement with tutoring as needed.