The Tutor at Harvard.
Tutoring is a very thriving business at Harvard, and, I suppose, elsewhere. Certainly Harvard cannot have a monopoly of the men who need to be tutored, nor of those who wish to tutor. However, in this, as in other respects, Harvard is not behind her sister colleges.
Tutors get very good pay. The average amount, I believe, is about a dollar and a half per hour. Some, however, tutor for only a dollar, or a dollar and a quarter. One of the recent notices set the price at forty-five cents, which is getting it down pretty low. Then there have been those who have received two, three, and even four or five, dollars an hour, which is pretty good pay. But to command such prices, we may be sure that the tutors have established reputations for getting their men through. The five dollar tutor must have a master mind, as well as a natural talent for teaching.
Tutoring of late has occasionally taken the form of "Seminars," or parlor lectures. The tutor charges a certain fee for admission to his room at an appointed hour, giving, when the time comes, as full a resume of the course as possible. Forty and fifty dollars an evening are often made in this way.
The good prices that most of the tutors get, show well how great is the demand for their services. The tutor of maximum ability is, in a way, in the position of a monopolist, and can get his own prices. A man comes to him and cries; "Oh, Mr. Snodkins, tutor me and get me through,-get me through, remember,"-and I will pay you almost any sum. This is the wail of the sinking student. It may be, he is going down for the third time. His tutor reached down his arms and, we will at least hope, rescues him. At all events, either he comes from the examination with the cry of "saved !" on his lips, or his name has to be enrolled among the "lost !" Certainly such a rescue, if made, deserves good pay. There are, to be sure, some men who pay their tutors well, but who remind one of the old fellow who exclaimed, "I will die, and nobody shall save me !"
In view of these facts then, we must acknowledge that tutoring is a noble calling. It is at once a life-saving and a life-sacrificing employment. To be sure, many are lost, but then how many more are saved. We are forcibly reminded of the noble exploits of our life-saving service on the sea-coast. Some day we may expect the rescued men to erect some grand memorial to the tutors.
It is not an easy thing to tutor. Indeed, the most successful tutors must have natural ability in addition to the thorough knowledge of their subjects. Many men who attempt to tutor, while they may have a thorough knowledge of the subject,-perhaps a knowledge more thorough tnan that possessed by certain other brothers in the trade,-nevertheless are unsuccessful in their work, just because they lack the necessary natural qualifications. Men who combine both qualifications, namely, natural ability and thorough knowledge, most perfectly, are the most successful, and get the highest pay. Then there are those who fail, because they undertake to do what even their bare knowledge should forbid. Some men, who advertise themselves as tuors, are like that class which seems to think it can get money without labor or ability. They don't recognize that if they want good pay for tutoring they must be able to give someting of value in exchange. Why, there are cases of men who have set themselves up as tutors, yet in the reports of examinations give evidence by their very marks of utter inability. Marks are not always the best criterion; but there are exceptional cases. Such ambitious men, we may feel quite sure, don't make much by advertising.
The abolition of required mathematics and physics in the Freshman year has had a very depressing effect on the tutoring business; but, notwithstanding this great narrowing of the field, tutoring is a business that thrives to-day, and doubtless it always will thrive.
Another name for tutoring is "coaching." However, this is a term that is rapidly going out of use. Paid coaches, you know, are objectionable.