On tuition, pricing, and schools

I’ve recently been discussing tuition and pricing with a whole bunch of people — relatives, potential students, tuition centres, and also fellow tutors. Money can be a sensitive topic, so my apologies in advance to anyone I may offend. But here’s the thing. Bad tuition is just a waste of money, even if it’s $1 per lesson.

What parents and students should be looking out for is the value you’ll be getting for your money, and that’s true for any purchasing decision one could make. When you’re thinking about food, you don’t just go for the cheapest thing available (e.g. food in the garbage). In terms of tuition, what you want is someone who can get you what you want, be it grades or a greater ease with the subject matter.

Let’s change gears for a moment and think about how teaching is done in our schools. It’s so cheap to be in most schools here, it’s practically free. But parents here obviously don’t trust schools completely, if you take the sheer size of our private tuition industry as a measure of that (lack of) trust.

Students DO have the option of staying after school for extra coaching. And as overworked as MOE’s teachers are, we know that many of them will sacrifice their precious time to help their students (kudos to them). Still, parents all over the country have voted with their wallets, and have decided that tuition can give a safety net that schools can’t give.

I really wish the education system here will one day become a gentler, more nurturing version of the behemoth it now is. Both teachers AND students are overworked in our system, can you imagine that? Childhood is supposed to be a time of play, wonderment, discovery and fun, but what has it become? A time of worry, toil, and suffering. Something’s not right, eh?

Good private tutors plug this gap. We have enough time and energy to give our students the attention they need to be nurtured into fine young adults, the kind that will give you help when you need to learn how to use Adobe InDesign CS6 (thanks James). Bad tutors just do the same ol’ useless crap, and too bad for you if you’ve paid money for them, because you’ve wasted it.

It has been said before, but it’s worth saying again: a higher price doesn’t guarantee a higher quality product. If you can find someone better for your child at a lower price, you should go for that! But experienced tutors know that they have to set their prices at a certain point for tutoring to be a viable use of their time. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to teach for money, if the teacher cares for the students. We’ve all heard about bad teachers, and we may even remember some from our own schooling — how much money do they deserve?

I’ve long said that if our national education system was thoroughly fixed, I’d sign up as a teacher again in a heartbeat. But in the meantime, I blog from my own little corner of the world, and try to do what good I can.


Are you looking for an English tutor? For one-on-one lessons or group lessons, please send an email to kevinseahsg@gmail.com, or call/SMS/whatsapp 97700557 (Singapore only). I’m not always at my phone, so if I don’t pick up, please leave me an SMS to let me know you’re looking for a tutor.

For editing and proofreading services, email kevinseahsg@gmail.com or call/SMS/whatsapp +65 97700557 for an obligation-free quotation. I’m not always at my phone, so if I don’t pick up, please leave me a message to let me know your requirements.

On tuition, pricing, and schools

2 thoughts on “On tuition, pricing, and schools

  1. Well spoken, Kevin. I’m astounded at the appalling quality of so many tutors and tuition centres around, and am convinced that some of them succeed in making their students worse, not better.

    Your article brings some much needed common sense into the discussion. And common sense, as many of us know, is a massive misnomer.

    1. Haha.. thank you, Steven. I’ve seen some teachers absolutely kill the English language.. most of the time I feel like I’m just working to repair the damage, when I teach!

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