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Is SAT ACT Tutoring Worth The Cost?

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If you type in “SAT Tutor” in Google, the auto-suggestion goes to “Is SAT tutoring worth the cost?

Coming from the mouth of a former tutor, her points are valid.

There’s a range of students from “I don’t care” to self-motivated. The group in the middle are the ones who benefit the most.

Like most things in life, the investment comes down to how committed your child is to working hard. Any coach in sports can provide guidance and strategy (yet while talent separates the good from great), work ethic still rules.

Are there enough free resources out there to improve your score alone? Yes.

Will most students take advantage of that? No.

As someone who has coached many people providing accountability is where the real value lies.

The first question we ask is: what are your goals?

Those include scores, dream schools, grades, etc.

Just like any gym has the equipment to get you in shape, it doesn’t drive you there and make you workout.

Tutoring is worth the cost when your child wants it. They’ve come to the point where they’ve reached their peak and need a tutor to bring them to the next level.

As the owner of a tutoring company I’ll be the first to say it’s expensive…but it depends on what your child is willing to put into it. If their priority is elsewhere and scheduling a session is difficult then save your money. Everyone is busy. You make time for what is important.

This really is a personal question. If I were you I’d sit down with your child and ask them if they’re open and willing to work with a tutor. You may not like their answer, but it may save you money and you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped.

Ownership is the difference maker here.

How Online Dating Grew My Tutoring Business

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Parents are skeptical of online dating because of context (first interaction was in-person).

Parents are skeptical of online tutoring because of context (the tutor meets in-person).

When I first thought about the differentiator for my tutoring company, the first idea that came to mind was: matchmaking.

At my former company whenever there was a refund or complaint almost 100% of the time it was because the student-tutor relationship wasn’t solid.

That’s because larger tutoring companies say they focus on pairing the right tutor for your student, but what they really do is match based on availability.

As a parent, you say Tuesdays at 6 PM works best so whoever comes up in the database with that opening goes to the top of the list. Sales people are quick to take public information such as bios to sell you on the fact they thought this potential pairing through (false).

When I initially used the analogy of online dating with a parent I felt myself cringe (or maybe that was the parent…), but over time I realize it’s a perfect way of describing what we do differently.

As resistant as the average person is to change (tutoring in-person vs. online) it’s important to speak to what’s relevant or trendy for context purposes. Online dating and online tutoring are both Billion dollar industries that cannot be denied.

You may not agree with how technology has changed the two services mentioned above, but you can agree you’ve heard of them before.

Effective marketing is clearly communicating the value they receive in exchange for an investment. I can’t force parents/students to work with us, but I can clearly explain how working with us works.

Matchmaking in online tutoring works with students because they want to like who they are talking to.

Matchmaking in online tutoring works with parents because they want to know who is working with their child and that they don’t hate their tutor.

Chemistry between the tutor and student is the most impactful quality that affects results because a stronger relationship equals more commitment, engagement and motivation moving forward.

Online dating helps us pair the right tutor with your student and that makes for a match made in academic heaven.

Marketing To The Generational Preferences Of Online Tutoring

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Imagine a triangle. At one point is you, the company. The remaining two points represent the parent and student.

Any type of business where you’re dealing with students, parents will be involved. The challenge is figuring out messaging.

You can have the same message, but the way you communicate it must be different.

In this case it comes down to: generational preferences.

Online tutoring is accepted by teenagers because it’s their preferred medium of contact. Parents, on the other hand, grew up experiencing tutoring in-person. Context is everything.

Since parents invest in their child’s education, it’s important to “sell” adults on the benefits of online education. Here’s how:

Convenience: technology eliminates the commute. Before, tutors would make house calls, but that limits the talent pool based on your location. Traveling also allows tutors to charge for time spent commuting. Online tutoring makes it convenient for both parties to work remotely.

Laptops “analogy”: if you were being tutored by someone chances are you’d bring your laptop. Tutors tend to use a computer too, so most of the time spent would be looking at each other’s screens. Online tutoring eliminates that. Screen sharing, editing documents together and using annotation tools to illustrate concepts can only be done virtually. Online functionality beats what you can accomplish in-person.

Show & tell: one of the most powerful ways to become a believer is to watch a recorded demo. Once parents see both the tutor and student’s faces with the interactive lessons on the screen, they’re sold. That’s why we offer a free 30 minute video meet and greet to parents and students with their tutor prior to committing to a package. Experience is better than hearing about it.

It’s key to understand what the parent (credibility) and student (tutor’s likability) care about most. When I speak to parents, physical sign-in sheets, demo videos and answering questions turn skeptics into believers. For students, we tend to hire tutors in their 20’s and 30’s for relatability purposes. Let’s face it, students don’t normally want to be tutored, but if we pair teens with tutors they actually like chances of success increase tremendously.

Connecting is meeting people where they are. It’s doubly tricky in this industry, but if you address it correctly you create long-term advocates.

Tutoring Is Actually A Relationship Business

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Ok not that type of (romantic) relationship…

A little over a year ago I started working for a test prep company as a faculty manager. Prior to that I’d never worked at an education company so the learning curve was steep for me initially. Fortunately I didn’t have to tutor students (not my role or skill set), instead I managed a team of 30 tutors remotely.

Being immersed in a new industry you learn the lingo quickly, but one thing never clicked for me while I was there: why do we care more about sales than people?

I get it — the difference between a business and a hobby is profit made, but the lifetime worth (loyal customers) and tutor retention make or break your company.

What my former company saw as the “why” was much different than what I believed it was: relationships.

Without great tutors and customers you have no business.

After I decided to leave one motto stuck in my head: if you take care of your people, they will take care of your customers.

That’s why months after starting my own online tutoring company I know I’m in the relationship business.

Truth be told, market research is important, but in a service industry people come first. Being in a relationship-driven business it takes time to grow. That means no overnight contracts, quick sales or cutting corners. Each interaction matters.

Once your sales strategy is determined you stay committed to it and live with the results (pivot over time if needed).

Part of creating and strengthening a working relationship is transparency and vulnerability. Although it sounds risky, it actually attracts the type of person who aligns with your vision.

When it comes to test prep (SAT/ACT) competency is the qualifier (if you don’t know the content, you can’t teach it), but the chemistry between the tutor-student is what determines how successful the results are.

That’s why as a parent previewing the tutor ahead of time makes the biggest difference. It’s why we offer a free 30 minute video meet and greet with student, tutor and parent before committing. We put our money where our mouth is.

What we’re selling isn’t really knowledge…it’s a relationship.

Why Online Tutoring Is The New Black Of Education

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Traditional education has a huge disadvantage: size.

Even when decreasing the student to teacher ratio individualized learning cannot occur.

It’s not the teacher’s fault. It’s a numbers game stacked against instructors.

That’s why online tutoring works. It’s customized learning.

Besides instructor knowledge there are a couple of factors that determine how much student’s comprehend: personality and learning style.

First, teenagers need to like their tutor. That doesn’t mean best friends, but there has to be some point of connection both can build on.

Second, a tutor needs to be able to identify very quickly how a student learns. When I interview tutors to join the team one of the questions I ask is, “Explain your teaching philosophy/style as a tutor. How does it change depending on the student’s learning style?”

The answer to that question lets me know if they are able to think on their feet and adjust to the student, not the other way around.

Most students these days have busy schedules. We work with student athletes, boarding schools and highly academically-driven individuals that need flexibility in meeting times.

That’s why we have tutors spread across the different time zones to accommodate their needs.

Learning isn’t something that can be forced. If so, students reject it.

Instead focusing on learning style, personality and priorities make a student more committed, engaged and motivated to do the work to get the desired results.

Education isn’t going anywhere, but the way we consume it is shifting.