A private tutor is an individual who works one-on-one with students to provide extra help and instruction in a particular subject. For younger students, tutors might provide overall help with schoolwork, such as assisting students in developing good study skills, or helping them get ready for tests. A private tutor may get paid for this work, or he or she might do it on a volunteer basis. Some colleges and universities will offer college credit for acting as a tutor to other students, provided the student completes a specific number of hours per semester, but this is not common.
Virtually anyone with expertise in a given subject may decide to become a private tutor. In many schools, peers or older students will tutor each other, or older students will work with younger students. In colleges, students working in a certain major may work with students who have to take courses in that major, but may be struggling with it. Students pursuing English or communications degrees, for example, will frequently work as private tutors at a "writing center" or other study center on campus to help students write and edit their papers for class.
An individual who is not currently a student may choose to become a private tutor as well, as they can frequently earn money for these services. Retired teachers, for instance, will often choose to tutor students, and parents are often more comfortable with this as well. A teacher may work with a student in a specific area in which he or she is having trouble, and provide assistance, or the teacher may develop lesson plans to help students in a more general way. Individuals who are simply experts in certain fields may also decide to become private tutors, whether they ever taught professionally or not.
Private tutoring is not limited to academic work. Private tutors may also exist for individuals learning a musical instrument, or working on their singing voice. Students who are particularly dedicated to a sport, such as those who might want to earn a college scholarship in the sport, might hire someone to work with them one-on-one to develop the skills necessary to succeed. There is almost no better way to learn than receiving personalized instruction from someone who is an expert in the field, which is why so many people choose to work with a private tutor at some point in their lives.