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Archive for September, 2011

100,000 students drop out of university

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

This month will see about half a million students start a university course in the UK. This is the last entry year before many universities will introduce higher fees (some at £9k or more a year) and the number of applications to universities rose sharply. Many missed out on places but did you know every year hundreds of thousands of students drop out of university? A 2008 study estimated 100,000 students left their course after the first year.  Almost a quarter of students, around 22%, failed to complete their course.

There are probably lots of different reasons that students drop out of university – they didn’t want to be there in the first place, they chose the wrong course, they miss friends or home, they can’t cope with the change. Lots of people think that widening participation (getting more people into university) is one of the main causes of drop out rates and that may be a contributing factor as students might not have the support of people at home or struggle financially.

We tutor lots of students, in all kinds of subjects from Maths to Spanish, who are about to apply for university. Here are some questions to ask yourself before you make that final decision.

  • Why are you going to university? Is it for you? Are you doing it to make your parents happy? This is probably the first adult decision you will have to make that could have a real impact on the rest of your life – it has to be right for you.
  • How have you chosen your course? Did you decide on it because your mates are doing it or because you did an A Level in it? Sit down with a piece of paper and make a list of the things you enjoy and are interested in (and would be willing to study for at least three years). That’s a good starting point to choose a course.
  • And the same goes for university locations – choose carefully, visit each campus. Remember you will be living there for at least three years – think about how easily you can get home, get around the city and see people so you don’t feel isolated.
  • If you are the first person in your family to go to university then make sure your friends and family understand that you’ll need financial and moral support. It’s great if you have someone to talk to who has been to university.
  • Think about what you want after uni. This will help determine if it’s right for you. University does give you some great life skills (and general transferable skills like research) but it can be a confidence knock if things don’t go well. If you really want to be a writer then is going to Aberdeen to study Engineering the right thing?

If you are applying for university this year and need help with your UCAS form or tutoring for A Levels including Maths, English and Science in Manchester and Cheshire then contact 121 Home Tutors.





Why using an agency to find a tutor is a good idea

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

At 121 Home Tutors we’re very aware that when you take on a private tutor you are inviting a stranger into your home.

And this person is going to be spending intensive alone time with your child.  The most important thing when choosing a tutor for your child is that you (and your child) feel completely comfortable with them. If you have any niggling doubts then the tutor isn’t right for you. It’s important that both you and your child get to know your tutor well and build a trusting relationship. Many tutors prefer a parent to stay with the child to protect all parties and this can be a good idea to build the bond up during the first few visits. It’s a relationship that has to work both ways – both the child and parents need to be involved, interested and understand the tutoring process to get the most out of it.  Your child needs to find the best method of working to get the most out of tutoring, some won’t work well if you are hanging around so it’s worth discussing this in detail with your tutor. You can talk about whether tutoring in your home or the tutor’s home is the best option.

We have a rigorous recruiting processes which include full and continual background checks and ongoing monitoring through student and parent feedback. One of the advantages of using an agency rather than an individual is that we can carry out all the checks you need to keep your child safe. If you are looking for a tutor then these are some of the steps we go through:

–          Checking their qualifications and assessing their suitability for private tuition – our tutors include current teachers, ex-teachers, retired teachers, professional tutors, college teachers, trainers, lecturers and expert professionals from specific fields.

–          We check at least two references for each tutor; one academic and one from a current/former employer.

–          We check for proof of identity and address. We check their passport, driving licence and utility bills.

–          We regularly keep in contact with and meet our tutors. It’s a good opportunity for training and for us to share tutoring ideas.

But don’t agencies cost more?

Answer – not necessarily.  At 1-2-1 Home Tutors we ask our prospective tutors the fees they currently charge or the fees they hope to obtain. Sometimes a  tutor will have a fee expectation or charging structure which, from our experience,  we know to be overpriced and not competitive in the subject area/level they tutor. While some tutors will find students willing to pay the higher price we would recommend the tutor re-consider their fee structure to give the client a better deal (and  the tutor more tutees).  By acting as an intermediary we can offer advice to students, parents and tutors about the fees that are realistic in our area – we also keep our fee structure within these realistic limits. 

Finding a tutor on the ‘open market’ can lead to parents/students paying above average for a tutor and a higher fee doesn’t necessarily mean the tutor is more experienced in the subjects they tutor (we often find that it is the newer, less experienced tutors  that have the higher fee expectation; maybe because they don’t know the marketplace in the area so well).  There may also be costs involved in advertising for a tutor or obtaining their contact details.

If you are looking for a trusted personal tutor for GCSEs, A Levels and 11+ in Manchester and Cheshire then drop 121 Home Tutors a line today.

Tutoring helping children secure Oxbridge places

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

The Independent recently revealed that more than 100 states schools are paying a private company to tutor their brightest pupils on how to get a place at Oxford or Cambridge. This news has come at the same time as a report from the Sutton Trust that shows that most people who get places at Oxford and Cambridge are from selective state grammar or independent schools.

Getting a place at Oxford or Cambridge has never been easy – they turn away around 8,000 applications each year and expect pupils to gain A* grades at A Level.

Now it seems it isn’t just parents who want to use tutors to help their child gain a place at Oxbridge but also the schools. In the last few years it has become more acceptable for both parents and teachers to seek the help of an outside tutoring company or private tutor to help them get a child into Oxford or Cambridge.

Specialised tutors can help in a number of ways:

  • Prepare and help your child for exams throughout the year so they get the grades they need to get into Oxbridge – because getting a place is so competitive these universities won’t accept lower grades so you need to be on top academically. It’s worth thinking about university before GCSEs – when students apply to university they will only have their GCSEs (and possibly AS and predicted A Level results). Their grades at GCSE will need to be as good as possible (usually A*).
  • Coach on interview techniques – Oxbridge interviews can often be used to test how you cope under pressure, so the interviewer may throw unexpected questions your way.
  • Help with test preparation – you might be asked to take a written test or engage in a healthy debate, you need to know how to handle this situation.

Oxford and Cambridge do offer a number of opportunities for students from lower income households, if you contact the universities they can tell you about these schemes.

There are two main things a private tutor can help you with – building your confidence and helping you develop as an independent thinker – these are two key skills that Oxbridge are looking for. We can’t wave a magic wand and guarantee a place at Oxbridge and any private tutoring company or personal tutor claiming to do so should be avoided.

If you’d like to know more about Oxbridge tutoring then call 121 Home Tutors on 01625 531 630. We work with students across Manchester and Cheshire.