Semi-Private Tutoring: The Details for Success

Semi-Private Tutoring: The Details for Success

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As a teacher for twelve years and an income tax consultant for five years, I am happy to share this success story with you in case you can also benefit from these ideas.

Private (or Semi-Private) tutoring has been around for a long time. Usually, college or high school students would meet up with students in a library, looking over their shoulders while the students finished up homework.

As a teacher of secondary level mathematics, many parents would often come to me requesting the tutor for their son or daughter. I had nobody to refer them to, other than major educational testing centers who charged an arm-and-a-leg to assess and teach new skills.

After some brainstorming, I created a plan and the documents to back up my plan. The following is what I came up with, and why.


As a professional educator, I wanted to work with students who were serious about improving their algebra or geometry skills, rather than being a glorified babysitter. As such, I priced my services quite high at $40 per hour. The going rate for a college tutor was $20 per hour, but I had credentials such as a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and time in the classroom.

Discount: To make the money exchange easier, I made an offer to allow parents to pre-pay me a month at a time. In exchange, I would give them a 5% discount.

Income vs. Time

I realized that since I was used to teaching 35 students at once in a classroom, only having one student would mean that a lot of my time would be spent waiting for him or her to complete a math problem. I could easily use that time to help another one or two students while earning more in the process. As such, my idea for “Semi-Private” tutoring was born. The rate would be the same as I had planned, and I promised to group similar-aged students together up to a max of three students at a time. Parents were not concerned over this and were quite happy with it when I explained that if they preferred the one-to-one, private tutoring would cost $50 per hour instead of $40.


My home seemed the best option because of several reasons. Most importantly, it was quiet and never closed. I could meet at any time without a library demonstration or school closing factoring into the equation. I had control of the television set remote control. I could clear off a table as a desk. It did not work to meet at a student’s home because I had little control over the noise or study conditions, and with more than one student participating at once, it would have become a hassle to explain directions.

Contract for Cancellations

To prevent last-minute cancellations I developed a contract that I discussed with the parents and students at our first meeting. Parents could cancel 24 hours or more ahead with the full pre-paid price going toward a future session. If circumstances dictated a last-minute cancellation, we tried to meet a different day that same week. If they never called to cancel and just did not show up, then payment would be required in full.

Tax Advantages

If you have space in your home to set aside a room dedicated only for this business, then part of your utilities becomes a tax write-off against the tutoring income. There are very little start-up costs involved, other than advertising.


I did most of my advertising via email to local school districts. I found their email addresses online. I left the prices off of the original flier and told parents my rates once they called for more information.


I signed up eight students and worked for only five hours per week. One of the students wanted private tutoring, and the others signed up for semi-private tutoring. Even if a student signed up for semi-private tutoring and was the only person there, they still received the semi-private rate. If you do the math, this averaged to approximately $1300 of income each month for only 20 hours of work, an average income of $65 per hour!