Tuition or part-time jobs?
Skill development required to stay in competition
"The money I earn from tutoring lets me pay for my living in Dhaka. If I lose my tuition, I don't know how I will pay for my rent, bear my own educational expenses, or send some money back home," said Mahin (anonymous) with an air of melancholy. Just like Mahin, there are thousands of students who rely heavily on tutoring as their primary source of income.
Tuition has been the go-to income source for a lot of students for a long time. For some students, it is their primary income source, while for some it is the means to some extra pocket money. Other than tutoring, the other alternative sources of income for students are part-time jobs, freelance work, or small businesses. Although these options are getting increasingly popular in recent times, tuition still accounts for the larger share of a student's total earnings. "I started tutoring when I was a 9th grader. Since then, teaching has been my comfort zone and the primary source of my personal income. Part-time jobs never peaked my interests, as most of these jobs tend to make you overwork and still keep you underpaid," said Shirsha Rohan Roy, a third-year student at IBA, University of Dhaka, who is currently a mathematics instructor at Mentors'.
How much does tutoring pay you: If you're a student at the top public universities in the country, chances are you can make more than a living from tuition. Tutoring a single private student can give you anywhere from around Tk 5,000 to even more than Tk 15,000. So if a tutor does three to four tuitions, they can earn around Tk 25,000-40,000 per month. Many fresh graduates entering the job market earn much less than that. As a result, even full-time tutoring seems like a very lucrative choice in hindsight for many. Tanvir Alam, a graduate of Dhaka University, said, "I continued tutoring even after my graduation. It has been my primary source of income ever since and it is paying me well. I considered traditional jobs at one point but given the slow growth and uncertainty of most private jobs, I decided not to go in that field."
Whether or not tutoring should be pursued after graduation is completely a personal call. However, one must realise the limitations that it comes with. "Although I really enjoy teaching, I do not see myself building a career out of it. I think my personal growth would be limited within certain boundaries if I did so," said Shirsha.
Tuition vs Part-time job: "The tuition vs part-time job choice is essentially a trade-off between personal earnings and skill/career development. Given the limited time alongside the usual university pressure, I choose my commitments very carefully with proper planning and preparation to keep my own academics in check," said Watir Morshed, a final year student at IBA, University of Dhaka. Alongside academics, Watir works as a part-timer at Symm Consulting. So how should a student balance the two priorities? Speaking of this, Watir added, "Most students should earn money and save up during the initial years of university life. Afterwards, they should work hard to attain skills and build a brand of themselves to get ready for the job market."
Despite the low pay in most part-time job offerings, many students are now opting for these jobs. The reason is quite obvious. The job market is getting increasingly competitive every year with thousands of graduates left unemployed. As a result, students now realise the importance of skill development and networking to prepare themselves for the future. "Tutoring provided me with freedom and flexibility along with good pay. I had the opportunity of teaching at an English medium school and at renowned coaching centres too. However, it was still not a good simulation of a real job," said Shaikh Jawad Ibrahim who is currently working full-time as a product manager at Thrive EdTech. "Working in an organisation with other people around you teaches you three important skills - communication, people skill, and being a team player. These skills are essential in shaping who you are and how you perform within an organisation," Jawad added.
Tutoring as a viable career: Due to the recent rise of EdTech, and many other online learning platforms, the potential of teaching students is no longer limited to a few tuitions. There are about 45 million students who are currently studying across 0.2 million educational institutions in Bangladesh whereas the number of good students offering private tuition is still very limited. So if you are an experienced tutor with the right resources, you can reach and impact millions of students across the country. EdTech startups like 10 Minute School, and Shikho are now offering full-time jobs for instructors with proper employment benefits. A paid recorded course on a popular online platform could mean years of commission-based passive income for an instructor. As such, many experienced tutors and instructors of various academic levels as well as skills are now sharing their knowledge on different platforms and earning quite well.
Is there a better choice: So if you are a student who just entered university, what should you do? There is no 'one size fits all’ answer to this question. It really depends on where they see themselves in the future. As a fresher, it is recommended that students explore and evaluate the opportunities around them. Alongside academics, it will be beneficial for them to get involved with activities that will help them gain key skills required to compete in the job market later on. If someone enjoys teaching and needs a stable source of income to pay for daily expenses or to save up some money, then they should sign up as tutors, be it private tuition, in a coaching center, or on an online platform. A student can only do so much in the four years of their university life. As such, it is important to have a clear goal and set priorities accordingly.
The writer is a third-year BBA student at IBA, University of Dhaka. [email protected]