How to Choose a Learning Center

Story by Marie Pappas

Whether you’re looking for a tutor to help your child in elementary school, need help getting through a college class, or are simply interested in learning something new, there’s an option out there that is just right for you. The world of supplementary educational offerings and learning centers gives students of all kinds and ages the options to advance their education and achieve their goals. When you find a great class or tutor to support you and help you get the most out of your education, you’ll be glad that you invested the time and effort. These businesses offer a valuable service that everyone can benefit from.

The first thing to do when navigating the world of learning centers is to ask yourself what format will best suit your needs and schedule.

There are three basic options on the market today: Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), private centers that offer small classes either online or on location, and personal tutoring.

MOOCs are online courses from top universities, which offer anyone with an email address the opportunity to learn. The trade-off, of course, is that there is generally no personal attention from or interaction with the teacher. MOOCs, and similar self-paced online offerings for younger students, are great for expanding your knowledge base or exploring a new field. However, the self-directed nature of these materials makes them less useful if you are struggling in a specific area and are looking for help.

Learning centers, also known as tutoring centers, whether a large national chain or a small local school, offer supplementary classes or private tutoring and are usually aimed at those in K-12 education. For those struggling to keep up in school or needing to review the basics to succeed in a higher-level class, these centers offer classes with a low teacher-to-student ratio, so you get plenty of personal attention and help. A good center will have qualified teaching staff and an environment that is low-stress and conducive to learning and many offer both online and in-person options. For on-location classes, you should be able to observe a class and meet the staff to make sure it is a good fit for you before committing to anything.

Private tutors can be more expensive than a class. However, they are often worth the money as they can tailor their lessons to your learning style, strengths and weaknesses, and pace. Most learning centers that offer classes will also offer personal tutoring. Check to make sure that the staff have teaching experience and qualifications in their fields. Another potential source for tutoring, especially at the high school level and above, is grad students from your local university, many of whom are passionate about their fields, and as aspiring professors are keen to pass on their knowledge. Check your local listings, bulletin boards, or try emailing the department admin.

Whether it’s a large online class or one-on-one tutor, there is sure to be an option that fits your individual needs. MOOCs, learning centers, and private tutors can often be the difference between understanding and confusion when it comes to difficult subjects. Don’t be embarrassed to seek help — the real reward of understanding a subject and achieving success makes all the work worthwhile for you or your family.

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