This is a fascinating discussion!  I had exactly the opposite reaction from Todd when I saw that it was music students.  Our younger daughter (my co-author on the book) is an opera singer now living in Berlin.  I saw her go through periods of despair after meeting with an instructor or a coach who explained that her “technique” was all wrong, and that previous teachers had done her a disservice.  So it may be that these students are fearing that upper class students may be more judgmental than they are prepared to handle.  This take is probably not likely what is happening here, but it just might be.


Another possible idea is that students are afraid that they may not understand the tutor, and will therefore be in an even more desperate situation.  I’ve seen students avoid tutoring because they could use the fact that they were NOT getting help as a kind of rationale for why they were not doing well.  BUT if they got tutoring and STILL didn’t do well, how do you handle that psychologically.  So the fear may be of failing even after working with a tutor.

I guess the best possible scenario would be if you could interview some of the students who are afraid and have them tell you exactly what they fear.  I bet it will be a combination of the reasons we’ve put forth on the listserv.


Have a wonderful weekend!


Saundra McGuire, Ph.D. 

Author, Teach Students How to Learn (Info at

(Ret) Assistant Vice Chancellor  & Professor of Chemistry

Director Emerita, Center for Academic Success

Louisiana State University


From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Todd Parks
Sent: Friday, October 28, 2016 3:36 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Students are "scared" to attend tutoring?




You wrote that [music] students are scared to come to tutoring. I am somewhat surprised to hear that music students are afraid to seek tutoring. I am not a musician, but my seventeen year old son has participated in individual and group music instruction since he was two years old. I would think seeking help from a tutor would be a bit like getting assistance from a private music teacher.


I spend a lot of time talking to students about seeking help and often compare students to elite athletes who are the best in the world at their sport. These athletes have athletic trainers, coaches, dieticians, personal chefs, sports psychologists, and a host of others who help them achieve their goals. Peyton Manning, considered one best quarterbacks of all time, worked with his former college coach during the offseason to improve his footwork and throwing mechanics. If athletes benefit from this kind of support, our students should too. Academic advisors, academic coaches, faculty, tutors, and other college personnel are akin to the bevy of professionals who support the best college and professional athletes.


Perhaps you can draw comparisons between music instruction and tutoring when you meet with these students. They might be less threatened if they can see the similarities between the two. I suspect the best musicians, like elite athletes, spend a lot of time honing their craft in the presence of a gifted teacher (or tutor).


Having the self-awareness to recognize that we might benefit from another’s assistance is a positive attribute. I have always admired those who were not afraid to seek help. I believe it is a sign of strength and courage, not weakness.






Todd Parks, EdD
Associate Professor

Coordinator of Academic Support Services
Piedmont Virginia Community College
501 College Drive
Charlottesville, VA 22902-7589

434.961-5499 (student appointments)
434.961.6524 (office)
434.961.5425 (fax)

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