Pros and Cons of Tutoring at an Independent Location

In-home tutoring certainly sounds like a highly desirable service, but, believe it or not, some busy, active, or noisy homes are as far from a suitable learning environment as you could want. No wonder so many families prefer to arrange for instruction outside the home. But what if you don’t have a home office or learning center? Or if you do, your office is full or too far from the client. Plenty of reasons exist to recommend the judicious use of independent locations for tutoring sessions.

A mutually convenient location like a coffee shop or library can offer most of the benefits of your own office with none of the costs. Libraries excel at setting the right tone for industrious academic activity. Most libraries have suitable space for quiet tutoring, while some actually make special rooms available either to reserve or on a first-come-first-served basis. Libraries offer so many advantages that you’d expect them to always be the correct answer when looking for a space. Unfortunately, even libraries with ideal facilities have limited hours that do not always correspond to traditional tutoring schedules.

Luckily, coffee shops open early, close late, and generally operate every single day. Plus, you rarely need to travel far to find one (and if you do, you might consider relocating!) Coffee shops and similar establishments appeal to all kinds of students from high schoolers to post grads, so an atmosphere of erudition tinged with mocha typically lingers in the air. On the other hand, Starbucks on a busy afternoon is as far from a dedicated learning environment as you’ll find. At least the coffee is always good!

PROS
– can be convenient for both teacher and student
– may have on-site refreshments
– Free to low cost (can be rented for the price of a cup of tea)
– good parking

CONS
– learning environment may be compromised
– unpredictable access to space or seating
– distracting
– less professional than your own office

Independent locations make sense for many reasons, even if you have your own space. But if you do choose to meet students at libraries, coffee shops, or similar spots, always scout the location out before your first session. Make sure the seating, lighting, and noise levels are suitable for your session. Find out if you can reserve a room or be able to count on finding a seat. You may even want to scope out an alternate just in case a wave of unexpected patrons ruins the place. I used to schedule all kinds of meetings at one of my local Starbucks, but often found myself bumped to the Panera next door, which had better seating but significantly weaker coffee!

What is your experience with tutoring at independent locations?

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