There are many ways to earn pocket money as an undergraduate student, but few are as rewarding as becoming a tutor, and even fewer come with such good pay! Not only do you get to impart your wisdom to your students, but you also join an ever-growing industry that is worth $1.4 billion.
If you are seriously considering becoming an undergrad tutor, here is your ultimate guide for what you should know and what steps to take to land your first tuition assignment in Singapore.
Why should I become a tutor?
Firstly, it is crucial to recognise that tutoring isn’t merely a part-time job. While it does pay well (see the estimated tuition rates listed below), becoming a tutor comes with many responsibilities.
Consider the following questions. They will help you to reflect on your values and motivations coming into this role before making this commitment:
1. Are you fond of learning?
In her book, Mindset, researcher Carol Dweck says,
great teachers “love to learn. And teaching is a wonderful way to learn”
To become a tutor means to reacquaint yourself with the minutiae of your chosen subject’s syllabus and to dive deep into its many facets. You’ll have to know the material so well that you can explain it in different ways depending on your student.
2. Do you believe in the growth of intellect and talent?
Once again, this comes from Dweck’s book, wherein she declares,
“the great teachers believe in the growth of the intellect and talent, and they are fascinated with the process of learning”
This means setting high standards for your students - not merely for the sake of their parents’ expectations but also because you genuinely believe they can learn and grow. In addition, you will need to provide them with the tools and resources to then meet these standards.
The critical difference here comes from having a fixed versus a growth mindset. With a fixed mindset, many believe that intellect and talent are inborn, and therefore, some can do well in school and some cannot. But with a growth mindset, you have the conviction that everyone can learn with enough effort, motivation, support and time.
What is more, this isn’t merely a tenet of positive psychology. It is based on facts and has the potential of showing actual results. Studies find that average performing students can become the top 2% of their class with the help of the right tutor. So, do you think you have what it takes to nurture such growth?
3. Are you willing to commit your time and energy to this role?
Each tuition appointment is usually 1.5 hours or more, excluding travel time and the time needed to prepare lesson plans. You may meet a student multiple times a week for a couple of months at a stretch as they prepare for an important exam. You need to make sure that this doesn’t interfere with your studies but can still allocate the right amount of time to it. For learning more about MindWork’s tutoring best practices, click here.
If you find yourself hesitating before taking this responsibility, reflect deeply and consider some other part-time job alternatives. However, if making a lasting difference in students’ lives is your calling, becoming a tutor is one of the best ways to serve your community here in Singapore. So, if you answered yes to these, you have what it takes to become an excellent tutor!
Here is how you can get started on this journey:
1. Choose which subject and grade level you want to teach.
Before you do anything, you need to decide which subject you would like to teach. Pick a subject that feels genuinely interesting to you, as you will need to spend a significant amount of time learning and teaching it. However, keep in mind that tutors teaching certain subjects such as STEM-based (for example, chemistry, physics or math) or language-based (for example, English or Malay) are in higher demand.
Additionally, may want to consider parents may have a preference for same-sex tutors for their children. This means you may not get as many assignments in particular subjects more likely to be chosen by certain students than others. While we work to eliminate such gender bias in the subject selection, this is, unfortunately, a reality that needs to be considered if you wish to pursue tutoring as your profession.
2. Gain Experience
Before you can start earning as a tutor, you will need to develop your teaching skills.
For instance, the six competencies listed by MOE as Skills for Future Educators are
support for students with Special Education Needs (SEN)
CCE (Character and Citizenship Education).
One way to learn teaching competencies is by volunteering at non-profit or charitable organisations in Singapore. Here, you can start to develop skills such as how to engage students and instil curiosity (inquiry-based learning), how to explain things differently to adapt to a given student’s learning needs (differentiated instruction), delve deeper into your chosen subject area, and get accustomed to your role as a mentor/ coach who can contribute to their holistic development (CCE).
We have compiled a list of NGOs that need volunteers to help with education here*:
*If you do sign up for these NGOs, please make sure to check in with the organisation for specific procedures, as well as maintain hygiene and public safety during the pandemic. The above list is only for your reference.
Another way of gaining experience would be to tutor your younger cousins or neighbours. You may begin by volunteering your services for free to learn tutoring skills on the job before you have enough experience to be a qualified tutor.
The next step after gaining some experience would be to seek feedback on your performance.
For instance, some questions you can ask are:
How satisfied are your students and their parents with the tutoring experience?
Do your students see a marked increase in their grades or their familiarity with a subject?
Do they notice an increased appreciation for this subject since they started receiving tuition from you?
Would they recommend you to someone else?
Clearly compile this data so you can refer back to it. Such references will be excellent for your next step:
3. Register as a tutor at a tuition agency
Usually, the tuition agencies in Singapore have an easily accessible page on their website where you can register to become a tutor by simply filling a form.
What does registering at a tuition agency entail?
Firstly, you will be assessed for your credentials, such as where you study and how much experience you have. This is where testimonials from your previous tuition experiences can come in very handy.
After the agency determines you are credible, they will reach out to you with potential tuition assignments. As the bridge connecting you to clients, they will usually charge some commission, which you can learn more about by contacting the specific agency or visiting their tutor FAQ pages.
How do you choose which tuition agency to register with?
Here are some questions you can think about:
How long has this agency been in business?
What is the story behind the founding of this agency?
What is their mission and core values?
What are their tutoring best practices? This relates to rules about time commitments and code of conduct.
It is essential to align with the core values of the tuition agency because you will be associated with their brand when you provide tuition.
MindWorks Tuition Singapore
Here at MindWorks Tuition, we believe in holistic education and nurturing the curiosity innate in all children to guide them to become exceptional students and achieve all their dreams. If you are curious about registering with us and would like to know more, here are some important links:
Register as a tutor here
Visit Frequently Asked Questions by Tutors to learn more about our tutoring best practices.
Read about the tuition rates here.
For more information, contact us!
Phone: +65 85000358 (8:30AM - 4:30PM)
4. Find your first assignment!
After registering, stay active on the agency’s preferred communication channel, such as WhatsApp or Telegram. Your politeness and promptness will be recognised as high enthusiasm and passion for teaching and help you get more assignments!
Once you receive your first appointment, make sure to approach it with the right mindset! Remember the responsibility you will undertake, and strive to deliver meaningful experiences during each session.
If you want to learn more about how to prepare for your first assignment, subscribe to the MindWorks blog and leave a comment below to let us know what advice you would like to read next!
And if you are considering becoming a tutor, we want to leave you with our mission statement:
MindWorks provides a credible home to educators from all backgrounds who are passionate about mentoring their students and creating lasting change in the world through imparting their knowledge and expertise to nurture brilliance in Singapore’s youth.
If this resonates with you, register now!