Preemptive Tutor?

I am new to this forum. I have a high school sophomore who is just starting the college process. My child is interested in Chemical Engineering which I am learning is a challenging area of study. Also, while I did not study engineering in college, I struggled my first year (I went on to have a good career, but my freshman year of college was a hot mess). I would love it if my child did not face the same setbacks as I did. I have a kind of bizarre question. How does tutoring work in college? Can I preemptively hire an on call tutor so that my child always has academic support? Do colleges even allow such a thing or do they generally require you to do peer tutoring through the school? Anyone know? Thanks.

Colleges frown upon this stuff. You will likely be violating honor code. That would be a serious infraction. Often resulting in suspension etc.

I am glad I asked. Thanks for this information. Is no tutoring allowed at all or is it just that the tutor has to be provided through the school?

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You are free to go to office hours to the prof, or to the TAs during precepts etc.
I don’t think tutoring per se is frowned upon, but certainly homework help is a clear ly not allowed. Homework is strictly regulated. Different courses allow different kinds of help for different assignments. For example my son once had a homework for which they could take absolutely any help, even from a Prof at a different university, but they had to acknowledge all the help they got.
Sometimes group work is allowed to discuss how to solve a problem, but kids need to write up their own solutions.
Sometimes some websites are allowed to be consulted but not others.
Rules change from course to course and assignment to assignment.
In the first semester math course, for the mid-term, the kids that always solved problems in a group without trying them first got very poor marks because they never really learned how to solve a problem – the median on that test was a 30 on a 100. The kids that first attempted the problems on their own, very seriously, got much better marks.
You may think who would find out, but if they can prove plagiarism, you could be suspended upto a year, depending on the school. And they manage to prove things from time to time. During covid some 30-40 kids were accused of having cheated from a website. What happened was that some tutor posted a solution with a mistake, on purpose, on a commonly used online platform. One person cheated from that. Other kids discussed that solution on discord channels and copied the same intentionally wrong solution down. Then the whole group was charged. I don’t know who got how much of a punishment for this.
The school also has your browsing history as you connect into the internet through the school.

I’m surprised that using tutoring services would be considered an academic infraction. My daughter has used tutors in 2 areas during high school and intends to do similarly in college, hopefully before any real struggles arise.

I just now checked to see if this use would violate any regulations at 2 of the schools she’s interested in. I couldn’t find any mention that tutoring would violate codes of academic conduct.

A good tutor, whether a peer tutor provided by the school or one hired for the purpose, should understand what general boundaries should be observed to prevent academic misconduct. And a review of school- and course-specific policies should easily prevent any inadvertent violations. I hope my student makes use of any appropriate academic support she needs for success!


The school provided tutors are supposed to explain things to the students, but not solve the problem for them. That is often a delicate needle to thread. I would just urge caution.

Would the student have the discipline to take help on the course material and not on the homework?

I don’t think providing homework solutions is part of any appropriate tutoring service. I assume that both tutor and tutee have the discipline to work within the boundaries of academic standards. I’m surprised at any presumption of behavior to the contrary. :man_shrugging:t2:

I have no qualms about my student’s use of tutoring, and I’m happy that she’s considering using tutoring services along with use of office hours and TA support. I feel like this is a proactive responsible approach.

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Since your child is still in high school, this is a great time to help them learn how to figure out when they need help, how to work together in groups without violating honor codes, advocate for themselves and get help from teachers and tutors. All engineering students benefit from help at some point (and even a good student may need help quite often), so these are all great skills to learn before starting engineering school!

All college courses will have some kind of office hours, and many will also have scheduled tutoring help sessions. In addition, engineering schools typically have additional tutoring services set up in academic buildings or even in the dorm where many engineering students live (check out engineering LLCs). There shouldn’t be any honor code violations involved in getting tutoring help through these college-provided servies.

Professional tutors, if your student ends up needing extra help, should also understand boundaries about how much to help a student. But I think it’s premature to assume your student will need a professional tutor outside of what is normally provided by the school. I also think that once your child is in college, it would be odd for the parent to arrange tutoring for them. I would expect my child to arrange their own tutoring if needed (although I’d be happy to advise them about how to do that, if they wanted).


Right idea, wrong track!

The lesson from your own bumpy transition to college is not to preemptively get somebody ready to hold your son’s hand, but to help your son be better prepared for the transition- and you are at a great time to start doing that! (start, b/c some of this involves maturing, and will thus be bumpy and uneven…)

Some things that will help him:

  1. learning how to manage his time. HS students live in the now, college students have to live forward. Working ahead makes all the difference. So, for example, you do the reading assigned for a class before the class, not after (so that you are better able for the lecture).

  2. learning that using the help on offer & asking for help early and often is not a sign of weakness or failure. I think this is possibly the single biggest thing that you can help him with! Every college has some form of math lab, writing lab, TA/prof time, etc. Finding them on day 1 and using them shamelessly before there is any need heads off so many problems.

  3. get used to how to make and use a study group now, where he knows the other students already, and can build a group that is compatible academically. It’s a great way to make new friends in college and balance academic & social time.


Most of my kids went to large public universities, and students used outside private tutors, there just wasn’t enough help through the universities for some classes like organic chemistry or calculus. My advise to my kids was to sign up for tutors early, go to office hours, fond study groups, etc., but if they needed more help or the college couldn’t offer resources (which happens), I’d pay for an in person private tutor or online like through wyzant. I didn’t seek them out, they did.


Most colleges offer tutoring services. These are free to the student. The student needs to request these services. The parent does not do this at all once the student is in college.

Does your child need academic support available at all times now? If not, I’m not sure why you are assuming he or she will need it in college.

College is a time for students to discover how to:

  1. Advocate for themselves, and find necessary help if needed…office hours, tutoring, extra study sessions, etc.

  2. Find a major where they not only enjoy the material, but also do well. IOW, if they find a major is not working for them because they are struggling getting the grades they need, maybe they need to explore alternatives.

  3. The student needs to reach out to their academic advisor if they feel they are having any academic difficulties. Of course, reaching out to the course professors during office hours or extra study groups is also important.

The tutors who work at the tutoring center should be the first stop…but your kid needs to be very vigilant if they think they need help. These services typically fill up, and sometimes students just wait too long to seek the help. There is nothing wrong with seeking help understanding course material.

And lastly…your kid needs to attend all classes. Don’t skip any. The material covered in classes is important…plus there is an opportunity for clarification during class in most cases. Missing classes…no. Just no.

THIS…seek tutoring BEFORE struggles happen. Student know when they don’t clearly understand the material…but some delay seeking help until it’s really too late.

For the record…I’m speaking from experience. My kid was an engineering major in undergrad. Kid did seek tutoring in a couple of challenging courses…and she didn’t regret it.


Our experience was that there was plenty of free help through the university and students were encouraged to use them on day one - help rooms for one on one tutoring, office hours, review sessions, study groups, etc….

I think the important message is to not go it alone and use the resources immediately, do all the homework and review questions (even if they aren’t graded) and don’t overcommit to ECs until you get into the right balance with study time.


You can hire a private coach for time management and similar issues. Therapists can also help. Tutoring is often available at the school, sometimes with other students. A student can register with the Office of Disabilities for accommodations and extra support.

I trained at our state U. as a “non-directive” tutor so that the student does the writing themselves. This keeps it ethical and allowable, It is a tricky skill to learn and maintain. Every school may be different in this but at my state U. al tutors were trained.

One of my kids used a private tutor after exhausting all available university options (office hours, TA help, Supplemental Instruction). Sometimes the professors/SI instructors are terrible. This service was used:


Agree with what several others have said. The best thing you can do now is show your student how to advocate for themselves. I see many students get under water by not keeping on top of work, poor study time management, and by not seeking help, going to office hours, or signing up for peer tutoring or review sessions. I’ve never personally heard of any issues using private or outside tutors. They’re common here, especially closer to testing windows when peer tutors are booked solid. They offer private test review sessions and are often run by graduates who tutor as their side gig. They’re sometimes necessary for advanced classes where few peer tutors exist. Obviously, students should keep in mind honor codes and properly vet tutors, but there are reputable private tutors out there. The best thing your student can do is become very familiar with their school’s Academic Success Center’s programs, services and hours. Most schools have so much help that just goes unused until it’s too late. To give you an example, DD lived in an engineering LLC her freshman year; there was tutoring downstairs in the dorm from 6-10pm Sunday through Thursday. She was one of the few students who used it. TAs often have test review sessions Freshman and Sophomore years; she said few students attended. There were always plenty of appointments at the ACS, except for the 2 weeks right before testing windows. That’s when students, and more so parents get on the university parent page complaining there are no services available :roll_eyes:


Just adding, I called Landmark School for referrals for coaches (ADHD).

Say this 3 times. “Time Management”.

Then get Cal Newports book…

This is essentially a book on time management with fun tips and tricks. It’s a quick read. Hugely useful for engineering and just about any subject.

The college your kid goes to as already stated should have the resources. Engineering is collaborative even in studying. Also, your child is not you. But totally understand what you are saying.

Asking for help now will make it easier to ask for help in college.

As far as outside tutors I would do anything to help my kids if their school couldn’t provide the help. Luckily I never even had to consider it since both schools (very small to very large) had excellent help resources. This should be something high on your list if it’s a real concern when looking at colleges. Forget about brand name. Which college will support your child the best? But… Cough cough, LOL. Most brand names will have excellent support also. :wink:… Good luck

BTW - my link didn’t work well it’s the Straight A in a College Book. I haven’t read the others. It’s not about getting all As it’s about how to study to be more efficient with your time

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So this always has amazed me. At many schools it’s actually the better students going to take advantage of these services. I usually tell students /families to go to like everything the school offers, Math labs, office hours, writing labs, break out groups, peer to peer, study groups and then see how you do at the first few quizzes to mid-term. Then adjust from there. These are free services and we the parents are usually paying for this. The students job is to try to be social and try to do their best. College is hard and I think not too many parents put that out there. It’s not high school. Your not in Kansas anymore (unless going to a school in Kansas :joy:)


A big help is to take only 12 credits. I was engineering and took way too many credits every semester. I just thought everyone was smarter because I struggled. Never thought that my 18-21 credits each semester, plus working, was the issue. I don’t even remember meeting any advisors. :roll_eyes:

I would caution against taking minimum credit hours without advisor input since that can throw off the four year plan of study and delay graduation.

I do agree though with not overloading.