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Tutoring as Part-Time Adjunct Work

posted: 7.15.09 by archived

Adjunct work is, by its very nature, part-time work.  As such, it rarely has benefits or decent pay.  Still, many of us continue to teach regardless.  In order to make ends meet, we need to make more money.  This money usually comes from other part-time sources. While none of this is news to adjuncts, what may be news to newer adjuncts is the ability to tutor for money.

There are several tutoring options open to composition adjuncts.  This can be appealing since the current economy and status of universities’ budgets are up in the air.  One option is private tutoring.  While this probably does not have the same pay scale per hour as teaching a room full of students, tutoring usually focuses on just one student.  Or, if you would like to try, group tutoring is an option as well.  Whether the students are high school or college students, tutoring offers you the chance to try out your skills in working with private clients, running your own business, and earning a bit of extra cash on the side. There is an emotional and creative investment in this kind of project, but, if times are tight, it is worth investigating.

When I look at trying to earn income in a new way, I often review competitors’ sites. There are also online how-to sites and wikis. Many colleges offer tutor training and tutoring services.  Reviewing their sites for training tips, policies, and general guidance can be helpful.  This is one good example.

Since this is a very tight economy, those extra dollars can go a long way. Tutoring can potentially pay more than your coffee or gas bill — it can potentially offset your other household bills as well.  And, if you do very well, perhaps it can become a more serious part of your income. Tutoring can also be a viable addition to your CV if you choose to list it.  Most importantly, tutoring offers a way to enter into the privatized side of education and potential access to wealthier or more privileged clients. Many adjuncts are not interested in this clientele, but, if cultivated, these students can offer long-term part-time work — just like any community college or university.  While this certainly does not appeal to everyone, it can be lucrative for adjuncts living in urban areas.

In the same vein, it is possible to locate work teaching or tutoring students in ESL.  Some colleges and universities run their own language programs, but there are also a number of private exchange programs who help students visiting the United States.  Many of these students want to improve their writing and speaking, and many of them come from families with the resources to afford tutoring.  While it may mean working with students who are under 18 or who have very limited English skills, this can help you develop your work with ESL students and give you a sense of whether or not teaching ESL to individuals or whole classes appeals to you.  Because most ESL instructors seem to be adjuncts, you may end up networking with other adjuncts or developing some skills so that you, too, can eventually teach ESL classes. Here is a good ESL site to check out.

One of the benefits of tutoring, whether ESL, high school, or college students, is that you are your own boss.  You can quit at any point if you do not like the work or the client.  Unlike adjuncting, you do not have a contract that you have to fulfill (unless you have signed up to work for a tutoring business).  Tutoring offers the potential of developing your teaching skills, CV, and income all while the economy goes through some difficult times.

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Categories: Adjunct Advice, Gregory Zobel
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3 Responses to “Tutoring as Part-Time Adjunct Work”

  1. John Soares Says:

    I have a friend who is an adjunct English instructor at a local community college. He also works in the college learning center as a reading and writing tutor.

  2. VIrtual Prof Says:

    Don’t forget online tutoring! This can be a great way to make a little extra $$.

  3. Jimmy Astacio, Humboldt State University Says:

    Just finished reading Greg’s post on tutoring jobs. This is very timely information, considering that I just completed my graduate education, moved halfway across the country, and am now contemplating the glacial speed of the community college application process.

    While I wait for an adjunct job to come along, I thought about tutoring and have applied for a couple of jobs. I like the idea about online tutoring, but I’m having a difficult time finding current job openings in online writing labs. Any ideas on where to look?

    By the way, Greg, hello from Austin, Texas. You may remember me from the English 100 portfolio scoring days at HSU. Keep up the great work!