Regardless of preparation, you may have occasional problems.  Listed below are common problems, along with suggestions for handling them.

What if the tutee says:

My assignment is due tomorrow.  Will you help me?

  • TUTOR'S RESPONSE:  Let's take a look at the type of problem you have.  We'll work on something similar, so that you'll be able to do the assignment.

    Reason It is not your job to do students' homework assignments.  If you do, the students will not learn how to do the work on their own.  Waiting until the last minute to do assignments may also be a sign of poor time management skills.  Model time management behavior in your sessions, and/or refer students to the Study Skills instructors.

I've already done my homework.  I just need you to check it for me.

TUTOR'S RESPONSE:  Well, you know, we don't proofread assignments.  But, I'll tell you what I can do.  If you'll show me the areas you're worried about, we'll discuss those problems in general and take a look at your book.  Then, YOU  can check your homework.

Reason:  It is not your job to make sure that everything a tutee turns in is perfect.  Helping students with specific homework problems is NOT what you were hired to do.  Review similar homework problems and help the student develop the critical thinking skills necessary to do his/her homework assignment independently.

Tutees must learn how to check their own work and how to have confidence in the answers they give.  If they can do this, they will:

  • have less anxiety during tests;
  • be able to defend their answers;
  • understand the material in-depth;
  • develop better self-esteem; and
  • become a more independent learner.

I've written this paper that I have to give in Spanish to my class.  Will you help me?

(Possible meaning:  I did get it written in English, but I can't write it in Spanish.  Will you do the translation for me?)

TUTOR'S RESPONSE:  You've gotten off to a good start.  You have the paper written.  Do as much of the translation as you can.  I can't help you with that.  But, once you've done as much as you can, right or wrong, then I'll see what type of problems you're having.  We'll work on those areas.  Then, YOU can go back and finish your paper.

Reason:  It's not your job to do students' assignments.  You cannot be with the student forever.  They need to learn how to do work on their own.

I have class (or work) during the times you're tutoring.  Can't you meet with me some other time?

TUTOR'S RESPONSE:  I'm sorry.   We're only budgeted for a certain amount of time and money.

Reason:  Nothing is ever perfect. Our hours are based on availability of tutors and money.  We cannot be all things to all people.  This is not your fault.

I'm your friend.  I can't come during your scheduled times.  Can't you make an exception for me?


  • I know how tough it is.  With my classes and work, I rarely have any spare time either.  Have you considered forming a study group with others in your class?
  • Have you checked to see what your instructor's office hours are? 
  • We also have other SSC tutors.  Have you checked to see if any of their hours coincide with your free time?
  • Have you considered hiring a tutor? 

Reason:  It's really hard to say no - especially to someone who considers you a friend.  Although it is difficult, saying no will help the tutee take responsibility for his/her own learning.  You should not be the sole resource for your tutee.

This instructor is really crazy.  She won't even listen to reason.  I think she's out to get me.

TUTOR'S RESPONSE: Sounds like you're having a bad time.  I'm sorry you're finding it difficult to succeed in this class.   Perhaps you could show me some of the problems you are having difficulty understanding.  I may be able to help clarify them for you.  We may also need to review how you are studying for this class.  You may have to invest more study time so that lectures are more meaningful and less stressful.  I can refer you to one of our study skills instructors, Al Mitchell and Lowell Martin.

Reason:  Regardless of how an instructor is performing, it will not help the student by complaining with them.  The student will still have to find a way to understand the material and pass the course.   Avoid talking about instructors.  Students sometimes use this as an excuse for doing poorly.  The more you help them find ways to learn effectively, the less dependent they will be on learning ALL the material through lectures and class time.   (Also, remember that anything you say about the instructor WILL get back to that instructor, which will reflect negatively on the SSC.)  

Nothing works.  I just can't get it.  I study all the time.  I don't know what to do.

TUTOR RESPONSE:  If you want, you can take a quick test to determine your learning style.  It's fun, and it doesn't take very long.  Once you know whether you learn better by seeing, or by doing, or by hearing, we'll both be able to figure out study strategies to help you.  Then, we'll take a look at your book. Also, I can refer you to a study skills instructor. You'd be surprised how much that can help.

Reason:  Sometimes, the students really are studying, but in a non-beneficial manner.  The SSC has resources and instructors to help with study skills. 

I can't take it anymore.  I'm dropping out.

TUTOR RESPONSE: I'm sorry to hear that.  Before you make any decisions, why don't you talk to one of the counselors in the Campus Center?  They may be able to help you find another alternative.

Reason:   Is the student having family problems, emotional problems, or something other than academic problems that are contributing to his/her feelings of hopelessness?  If so, this situation is beyond your job scope.  Please make a referral to someone with more training. 


Proceed To Step 6

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