Tuition is costly! I know it! I am a parent too!
Tuition is also an investment for our children. As with all costly investments, one should carefully research and consider various factors. Thus it is important that we all learn how to correctly choose a tutor or tuition programme.
Quality is extremely important. This is for our children’s future! Do we really want to settle for something inferior? That will be costlier in the end!
However, assessing Quality is not so easy. Why?
- In economics, we call this “imperfect information”.
- Quality is multi-faceted and one indicator alone cannot tell it all.
- Tuition is such big business nowadays that there is so much persuasive advertising out there that can distort information and cloud our judgment. The ill effects of persuasive advertising is also covered in economics.
“So one should really check for quality and not merely level of academic attainment.”
In this post, I will focus on Quality in terms of whether the tutor is a Subject Expert.
Let’s put it this way, it is not easy to be a Subject Expert. Many times we think we know something, but we actually don’t really know…
Hence we end up making errors in explanations and applications. It requires years of learning, training and application to be an expert in anything!
So how can we assess? Well, the most convenient way is to obviously assess the tutor’s academic qualifications.
But nowadays, many tout “Master’s degree”. Some even tout a string of degrees!
That’s not a bad thing, but it does not really signal top quality. Many graduates, if they wish to, can easily continue to study for another year or so to obtain a Master’s degree. In fact, some may do it in order to cover up for poorer grades!
Let’s take an easy example of hiring a math tutor for a Primary 3 child.
Tutor Alfie has University degree qualifications, but with mediocre grades for PSLE, O, A Levels and in Uni.
Tutor Bianca has only A level Maths qualifications, and is among the top in cohort for PSLE, O and A Levels.
All else equal, who do you think can better help the P3 child?
It is quite well known that only a very small % of each cohort will graduate with a First Class Honours degree. Together with consistently superb grades throughout the different academic levels, you can be more assured that you are looking at someone who has top quality to help your child!
So one should really check for quality and not merely level of academic attainment.
Finally, the university is also very important. Obviously, there is a whole range of quality out there. Should you merely check based on Uni rankings? No! Uni rankings are a very crude, overall measure. To be more accurate, you should check based on the Uni rankings for a particular subject.
You can check out this site : https://www.topuniversities.com/subject-rankings/2018/
For Economics, you can use this: https://www.topuniversities.com/university-rankings/university-subject-rankings/201 8/economics-econometrics
NUS is ranked 20th in the world for Economics. Someone asked me about Murdoch University. It is not even on the list! It’s also not even in the top 20 within Australia!!
1) Quality is Key.
2) Check academic results to determine if he/she could be regarded as a subject expert.
3) Look for quality of grades and not merely level of academic achievement.
4) Finally, do a credibility check based on Uni rankings by subject.
Well, this is just Part 1. Let me know if this is helpful!