ADHD Coach or Academic Tutor? Getting the Job Done

Editor’s Note:  This answer to month’s Ask the Coach question was provided by Candace Taylor and Edge Executive Director, Robert Tudisco.

Dear Coach,
Why should I hire a coach when everyone says I need a tutor?

Signed,
Ready For Help

Dear Ready,
Candace Taylor, Edge Coach responds: Hmmm. Truthfully, perhaps not the right question to ask? I’d suggest that you don’t look at it as an either/or proposition. It is not unusual for a student to have both a coach and a tutor – just like you might also have a personal trainer or therapist.

Coaches aren’t competing with other professionals for a spot on your support team, we’re collaborating with them. Whether or not a coach is the best investment depends entirely on the you and what you’re seeking to accomplish.
There are times when a tutor may be a better, and often cheaper choice. There are times when both are a good idea. If finances dictate that there is only room for one professional, then the one that can address the student’s greatest needs should get the job.

Sometimes you bring on people to help you sequentially. For example, a student who is hitting the wall for the first time in college and suspects they have ADHD should start with a medical practitioner for a diagnosis and treatment plan. When things have settled down a bit they might add in an academic counselor to look into academic accommodations and allowed modifications. A tutor can then be added to learn how to write a proper lab report or tackle tricky Calculus problems.   Next comes a coach to put it all together:

  • how to schedule your study time in a way that allows those tutored assignments to actually land on the prof’s desk on time,
  • how to set up a reminder system that works for you to get to the appointments for the rest of the support team professionals,
  • how to self advocate effectively for accommodations that some of your teachers may be reluctant to grant,
  • even how to get the most out of time spent with your other helping professionals who may not “get” ADHD.

Robert Tudisco: I’d add that in my legal practice, I see far too many students who are struggling with ADHD get “treated” by hiring a tutor. It is also my experience that the majority of these students are extremely bright. Many of them do not need tutors in specific subjects, instead they need help learning the executive skills needed to translate their outstanding intelligence into outstanding grades. For example:

  • Remembering which notebook to bring home
  • Developing study skills and habits that take into consideration how they process information
  • Empowering themselves to work toward their strengths and navigate around their weaknesses.

These skills reach across all subjects and are not the specialty of an academic tutor. The skill set of an Edge Coach is highly specialized in all of these administrative deficits which span all subjects.

To learn more about how an ADHD coach can help you succeed in college, check out our free ADHD & College whitepaper.

We’d love to hear from you.  Do you agree that tutors don’t provide ADHD students with executive skills training?   Do you have more than one helping professional? What has worked for you?  Please comment below!

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3 Responses

  1. Mary
    | Reply

    Are their any tutors who do both coaching and tutoring??

    • Peggy -- Edge blogger
      | Reply

      Mary,
      Usually these are two different types of focus. A coach helps you work on setting up a structure to get your work accomplished. A tutor focuses on helping you understand the subject matter.

  2. Luke Smith
    | Reply

    I loved reading Robert Tudisco’s comments about many ADHD students being extremely bright and simply needing help learning the executive skills needed to translate their outstanding intelligence into outstanding grades. I am sure that for a smart child who already struggles to focus on mundane work, a tutor trying to teach them things they already know would not help. I imagine that hiring a coach to help them develop the life skills like the ones you mentioned would help them feel better about themselves and have motivation to work.

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