22 Year-Old Tutor… With a Waiting List

When I was 22, fresh out of college, and beginning my first year of teaching, I moonlighted as a tutor. I had so many tutoring clients, I had a waiting list!

How did I manage that?

For one reason and one reason only. I was a study skills tutor. Not just a tutor…a Study-Skills-Tutor. It turned out, that was like the difference between Clark Kent and Superman.

Getting Started

You may already know about my own experience as a student; I struggled all the way through K-12, but learned study skills as I entered college. I suddenly went from “struggling” to earning a 3.9 GPA that first semester.

The transition from “struggling” to “soaring” (pun intended) was so simple, I couldn’t figure out why someone hadn’t taught me *how* to study before. (I assumed that if there was an easier way to learn, someone would have surely taught it to me…right?) I was WISHING someone had shown me the light earlier in my life. It would have saved me countless hours of frustration and years of feeling “stupid.”

Meanwhile, I was a “hungry” college student and needed a job.

It wasn’t long before lighting struck my brain; why couldn’t *I* be the one to share the “light” with others? I could be a tutor! I was in college to become a teacher, so the idea was a perfect match with my passion and goals.

I approached a few guidance counselors from local schools. I shared my story, along with copies of my report cards from high school and college to prove it. I also brought a few resumes and hand-made flyers and asked if they would be willing to share my information with families in their schools.

Looking back, I can’t believe I had the guts to approach the guidance counselors like that. But, the difference in my report cards said it all! They were impressed and passed my information along. I figured out the “going rate” for more experienced and “certified” tutors and charged 50% less.

The Power of “Study Skills”

I *very* quickly learned that parents are desperate for study skills! In no time at all, I was in business.

In fact, just as quickly, I learned that I *had* to refer to myself as a “study skills tutor.” If I simply told people that I was a tutor, their reaction was very indifferent. It was as if I had told them the sky was blue…so what?

If I introduced myself as a “study skills tutor,” however, faces would light up! (And still do, by the way.) If I counted, I would guess that at least 95% of the people I have met since I was 19 and have been introducing myself as a “study skills tutor,” “study skills teacher,” or now as a “study skills author,” all respond with one of two reactions:

1. “OH…my (son/daughter) REALLY needs you!”


2. “Where were you when *I* was in school?”

The power of prefacing my occupation with “study skills” yielded a major reaction from nearly everyone! It was my greatest asset. It was THE reason why I had a waiting list only a couple of years later.

An Amazing Experience

Tutoring was a remarkable way to make a living through college! The hours were flexible. The pay was better than any job available on campus.

More than anything, however, I was able to connect with a lot of students who were having the same struggles I had experienced: They despised homework because it took them hours to complete it. They had a rough track record on tests. They had very low confidence, if any.

Little by little, their struggles faded into success. They learned how to get organized. They learned how to read a textbook (and actually understand it). They learned how to plow through homework more efficiently and how to prepare for tests. And, their grades improved.

Most significantly, their confidence skyrocketed! They were learning that they were actually smart. They were learning that strategies don’t just apply to sports and video games…they apply to learning, too! It was much more rewarding to witness the successes of my tutoring students than to have experienced the same success myself.

A Growing Need

Obviously, I knew the power and significance of study skills in my life and in the lives of my tutoring students; we had all been “struggling” students who discovered a path to success.

However, as I began teaching high school, I was shocked to see that it was not just “struggling” students who suffered from a lack of strategy in school, it was nearly everyone!

At least 2/3rds of my students had some problem with keeping track of assignments, completing them and turning them in, preparing for tests, and/or taking tests. Of the remaining students, some of them just “got it” without any effort at all. (Although, I later figured out that most of them hit a wall in college.) Others accomplished great grades, but at the expense of hours and hours of intense work, stress, and sacrificing any sense of a personal life. (Does this sound like any adults you know?)

I had to figure out a way to work with more students at one time. One afternoon, I sat at my desk and took a crack at creating a workshop. I made a brainstorm list of the most common issues, topics, and discussions in tutoring sessions and in the classroom…the most common issues facing students.

Within 15 minutes, the SOAR acronym jumped off the page…and my study skills workshop was born!

In time, that workshop became what is now our student book…the best-selling study skills book in the world and the inspiration for everything we do here at SOAR.


study skills tutoring

The beginning of SOAR. After completing my first year of teaching and my fourth year of tutoring, I brainstormed a list of topics for a summer workshop. Little did I know how valuable this loose-leaf sheet of paper would become to me.

The Answer is “YES!”

We’ve grown a lot over the years and it’s easy for us to forget how we got started. But, two of the most common questions we are asked are:

“Can I use SOAR® as a tutor?”


“Is the program appropriate for a summer workshop? Can I use SOAR® as an enrichment class during the school year?”

Well, now you know. Not only is the program appropriate…that’s exactly how SOAR® was born!

If you are interested in becoming a Study Skills Tutor or Study Skills Teacher for a summer workshop, check out our Educator Curriculum. The Multi-Media Teacher’s Guide comes with a Bonus Report: How to Advertise Your Tutoring Business, which includes a very specific plan to help you grow…and quickly develop a waiting list of your own!

-Susan Kruger


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