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What is the value of a great personal tutor?

Every time the Olympics comes around I get emotional as I watch phenomenal young athletes standing on the podium to receive their medals. I am proud of every athlete that represents the US on this world stage, but it’s the young ones who have the greatest impact on me. Like most Americans, emotion swells inside of me watching athletes like Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas and Katie Ledecky standing on the podium with the National Anthem playing, the Stars & Stripes being raised behind them and with a gold medal magnificently draped around their necks.

As the immediate emotion subsides, I also reflect on how all of these young athletes are able to achieve such high levels of performance at such a young age.

I have come to the conclusion that it is because of exceptional coaching.

“Whoa!” I hear you say. “How can you discount all of that talent, perseverance and self-discipline? For crying out loud, it wasn’t the coach on the balance beam in front of millions of viewers around the world. It wasn’t the coach who obliterated her own world record in the 800 meter freestyle, with the others barely in the camera’s field of view! How can you possibly give all the credit to the coach?”

The answer is that I’m not giving credit for the victory to the coach. I wasn’t wondering how the athlete’s performance could be so good. I was considering how were they able to bring all the talent, discipline, effort, perseverance and poise to the world stage in so little time.

Let’s change the question slightly: “How long would it have taken for Gabby Douglas, Simone Biles or Katie Ledecky to win a gold medal at the Olympics without great coaches?” The honest answer has to be, it would probably take an infinite amount of time, because it simply doesn’t happen.

In other words, here we have the same exceptional athletes, with the same natural gifts with which they were born, the same characters, the same physical potential and the same determination to win … yet they somehow transformed the amount of time to achieve an Olympic gold medal from “infinite” to placing at the top of the world as young as 15 years old! That’s some serious efficiency.

That’s my point. Coaches decrease the time required to achieve results … which is the goal in any performance related activity. They do this by staying 100% devoted to the athlete’s success. By imparting knowledge. By motivating the athlete and challenging them to exceed their own expectations. These are the elements which close the distance to achieve your goals from maybe never to standing on a podium at 15 or 16 years old with a medal around your neck. Simply put, coaches maximize the athlete’s potential in a shorter period of time.

So what’s all this have to do with the value of a tutor?

Like championship sports, academic success is a performance-related activity. Everything a student does from the day they start school until the day they walk across the stage with a diploma in their hand is graded, scored, racked and stacked, and measured against every other student, not just in their own class or school, but nationally and internationally – and it’s becoming more and more a performance related activity every day.

Great tutors are great coaches. They are dedicated to seeing their students succeed. They impart knowledge. They reinforce foundations while identifying weaknesses where the greatest potential for improvement may exist. They motivate and push students to work a little harder than they may want to on their own, and they challenge students to exceed their own expectations. Most importantly, great tutors significantly decrease the amount of time for a student to achieve their goals from perhaps never, to within a relatively short — and sometimes amazing — period of time.

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