Improving Academic Performance

Finding a Tutor

Posted by Mark Skoskiewicz on Wed, Aug 11, 2010 @ 09:23 AM

Millions of students seek private tutoring each and every year.  Given overcrowded classrooms, overworked and underpaid teachers, and the increasing competitiveness of the college admissions process, this is not a surprise.

To meet this demand, dozens of companies have sprouted up with a “value proposition” and “business model” that involves simply matching students with tutors – there are many web-sites which operate this way, and more are appearing every week.  Some of the most prominent such web-sites include…

      …and there are many more.
      However, with the number of sites of this type steadily rising, the value of the “tutor matching” service to parents and students comes into question.  These sites generally allow anybody to post a bio and list their “subject expertise” so they can eventually be contacted by students.
      From the student’s perspective, it’s nice to have a list of available tutors.  However, too long a list is not necessarily a good thing – you don’t know where to start your search.  You may reach out to five tutors, and hear back from three, two of which take several days to respond.  Pricing may vary wildly as well.  Nobody wants to pay too much per hour, but everybody wants a high quality tutor. 
      In addition, the actual qualifications, interpersonal skills, and communication skills/style of the tutor you choose hasn’t been vetted with anyone, in many cases, if you choose to use a tutor matching web-site.  Plus, an individual tutor might know his or her material, but may be unable to provide the structure you or your child needs to begin to succeed in class.  If you don’t ask the right questions, you might not get the help you need. 
      We believe that working with a company like MyGuru provides an attractive middle ground between finding a tutor on one of the tutor matching sites mentioned above and working with a high priced tutoring agency like Kaplan or Huntington Learning Center.
      First, MyGuru explicitly seeks to be a very selective recruiter of tutors.  It isn’t trying to build a large database of available tutors – in any given subject and geographic area, it typically has 2-3 expert tutors available.  It starts by eliminating anyone who didn’t attend a college ranked in the Top 100 nationally by U.S. News and World Report, and requires a minimum of two years prior experience tutoring or teaching.  All tutors then go through an interview process and trial period.  In Chicago thus far, its favorite source of tutors is Northwestern University, but obviously many tutors also come from the University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Depaul or Loyola.
         Second, MyGuru provides all of the “back office” and customer facing support it can to make the process of matching students with tutors easy for everyone.  We’ll respond to your request within hours, discuss a variety of tutoring options, provide references, and let you speak to a few potential tutors.  You pay MyGuru directly (we offer a money back guarantee) and then we pay your tutor on the 1
st and 15th of each month (like any business).
      Third, we provide just enough structure to make sure tutoring relationships are successful.  We’ll work with students and tutors upfront to set reasonable objectives for each session – instead of walking into each session “cold” – the tutor and the student know what they’ll review and have prepared in advance.  When it comes to test prep, we use our significant knowledge of each major standardized test to design simple packaged solutions that combine “off the shelf” test prep materials with an expert tutor for a customized experience that hits on all the major sections of the test and all of the key test taking strategies for that particular test (ACT vs. GMAT vs. MCAT, etc.).
      Large national test prep and tutoring chains might be able to make similar statements (although MyGuru’s tutors are probably better on average).  However, the biggest such companies charge exorbitant prices for 1-1 tutoring and test prep.  It is common for a student to find that a major test prep firm charges $150+ per hour for customized, 1-1 help.  MyGuru takes tutors of similar quality and makes them available for less than half that – this can either save you a lot of money, or provide you with twice the number of sessions for the same investment.
      Call MyGuru at 312-278-0321 to learn more.