Academic Coaching vs Tutoring: What Is the Best Solution?

Trying to decide between academic coach vs tutor.

Finding the right academic support for your teen is a challenge. One of the most difficult choices is between academic coaching vs tutoring. Both are effective in the right circumstances.

However, which is the right one for your teen? 

I created this guide to help you make the right choice for your teen. The correct academic support can help your teen reach their academic potential and making that choice doesn’t have to be stressful.

What is Tutoring?

Tutors are a time-tested method of academic support and can positively impact many students.

A tutor is “a person who gives private instruction in academic subjects.” Most tutors help with a specific academic subject or topic. For example, if your child struggles with Algebra, you will likely seek a math tutor.

Tutors will often meet with students one-on-one to help them understand academic concepts they are struggling with. The tutor will work with students on a specific assignment or task to provide a solution to an immediate problem.

While tutors can be very effective at helping a student overcome a specific knowledge gap. However, there are some shortcomings to this style of academic support. 

Tutors don’t focus on the bigger picture and don’t address the foundational issues that may be causing a student to struggle academically. Furthermore, many tutors work on an “as needed” basis and, as a result, do not build close relationships with their students.

Tutors are an excellent option for overcoming a specific knowledge gap or improving grades on an assignment or assessment.

Working with an academic coach
Working with an academic coach.

What is Academic Coaching?

Academic coaching is a newer form of academic support that has seen tremendous success in recent years. This is largely because academic coaches target the areas where tutor’s come up short.

An academic coach is “a professional who meets with students to provide guidance and support in planning, goal setting, academic skills development, and time management.”

Academic coaching is a more holistic form of educational support. 

Academic coaches help students with specific academic concepts but also help them develop academic skills and strategies, set goals, and learn time management strategies.

Additionally, this type of academic support is much more comprehensive than tutoring because it addresses the immediate educational needs of students and the underlying issues causing academic difficulties.

Furthermore, academic coaches typically work with students regularly, allowing them to build close relationships with their students. Regular meetings build trust between the teen and the coach which allows them to have difficult conversations and address the root causes of the student’s academic struggles.

Beyond improving foundational academic and executive functioning skills, working with an academic coach can help students build their confidence, develop a sense of empowerment, and take responsibility for their academics.

Academic coaches focus on providing long-term and lasting solutions for their students. The focus is not on a specific knowledge gap but on the foundational academic and executive functioning skills students need to succeed in all their classes and in the long run.

Academic Coaching vs Tutoring 5 Key Differences

Now that you know the fundamental differences between academic coaching vs tutoring. Let’s look at how each form of academic support impacts students in critical areas of educational development.

A student working on homework with the assistance of an academic coach.
Tutors and Academic Coaches help with homework.

Working on Homework

One of the biggest challenges that students face is completing homework and turning it in on time. Tutors and academic coaches approach this problem in completely different ways.

Tutors help students understand the academic concepts they are struggling with, so they can complete a specific homework assignment.

Academic coaches take a different approach, teaching students organizational and studies skills they can use to stay organized, use their time wisely, and complete their homework assignments independently. 

Academic coaches empower their students with the skills they need to learn how to get straight A’s.

Test Prep and Studying for Assessments

Tutors and academic coaches also approach helping students prepare for tests and assessments differently.

Tutors will often review academic concepts with their students and help them understand the material they are being tested on. A tutor may also help a student study for a specific test.

Academic coaches teach students skills like note-taking and effective study methods. Additionally, a coach helps students develop a personalized study plan that can be used on any test. 

A tutor will help a student study for a test; an academic coach will teach a student how to study. 

Moreover, academic coaches often meet with students before important tests or assessments to help them develop a confidence-boosting mindset and build their test-taking skills.

Time management academic coach vs tutor
Time management is an essential skill.

Executive Functioning Skills 

Time management, organization, and assignment prioritization are essential for students trying to sustain their academic success. Unfortunately, these skills are rarely taught in schools, and students are expected to pick them up independently.

Tutors often do not focus on executive functioning skills because they are not academic concepts. 

Academic coaches specialize in teaching executive functioning skills. Academic coaches often meet with students regularly to help them develop and implement customized educational plans. These academic plans include concrete strategies for improving executive functioning skills.

Focusing on the bigger picture allows academic coaches to teach foundational skills. Foundational skills help students create a system where they thrive academically rather than just surviving.

Critical Thinking Skills and a Growth Mindset

Critical thinking skills are academic skills that students use to analyze, interpret, and question information. These skills are essential for academic success because they help students understand academic concepts and retain information. 

These skills are essential for success in both the classroom and in life. Critical thinking also allows students to identify challenges, overcome them, and develop a growth mindset.  

Tutors do not directly teach critical thinking, and the nature of the relationship between student and tutor does not foster critical thinking. Tutors often come in and provide the answers and solutions. 

A tutor providing answers and solutions is the opposite of critical thinking, and this type of relationship can make a student dependent on a tutor in the long run.

Academic coaches focus on teaching critical thinking by constantly asking students what they think is the solution and encouraging them to trust their judgment and ideas. Over time, this encourages critical thinking and helps students take control of their academics and responsibilities. An academic coach can help students develop a growth mindset that unlocks their potential. 

Make it possible with academic coach vs tutor
Confidence can make anything possible.

Empowerment and Confidence 

At the end of the day, you want a student to feel empowered and confident. It is challenging to help a student reach these feelings when you are focused on a specific subject and not addressing a student’s holistic needs. 

An academic coach’s end goal is student empowerment and confidence. 

By building positive habits, study skills, organizational and executive function skills, and fostering critical thinking, academic coaches are uniquely positioned to help students achieve empowerment and self-confidence.

By achieving these emotional states, academic success is accomplished along the way. Furthermore, these emotional states are the secret to motivating teens and success in the long run, not just in school. 

Academic Coaching vs Tutoring: What is the solution?

If you are looking for someone to help your student with a specific academic subject, then a tutor is likely the best solution.

If you want someone who will focus on the bigger picture and help your teen build academic skills and strategies they can use now and in the future, then an academic coach is the best solution.

Let’s talk if you think your family would benefit from working with an academic coach. I am a former classroom teacher and educational coach that has helped hundreds of students get on track and reach their academic potential. I offer complimentary discovery calls to help you determine your teen’s next steps and identify the support they need to succeed.

About the Author: John Hyde

I am an educational coach specializing in teaching students academic fundamentals and a growth mindset. 

After graduating from Duke University in 2015, I taught at a public middle school from 2016 to 2019. Although I loved working with students in the classroom, the public education system was not teaching students the skills essential to academic success. 

I left the classroom in 2019 to start Academic Empowerment Academy. Since then, my coaching program has helped hundreds of students realize their academic potential by building confidence and empowering them with the skills and mindset to meet their goals in school and life. 

If you’d like to discuss how I can help your teen be more motivated, foster good habits, and improve academic organization/performance, Book a Complimentary Discovery Call Here.

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Author Spotlight

Hi I’m John, author of this blog, academic coach, and founder of AE Academy.

I help teens reach their academic potential by empowering them with academic fundamentals, a growth mindset, and critical thinking. 

If your teen is struggling to reach their academic potential, or isn’t learning the skills they need to succeed in school, we should connect.

It’s on me – Book Your Free Call Here