Tutoring Is Actually A Relationship Business


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 Perfect Scores Don’t Make The Best Test Prep Tutors


True or false: the best tutors are the near perfect performing ones.


Content knowledge is the qualifier, but it’s not the most important factor in finding the best tutor for your child.

If I asked you to name the best teacher you’ve ever had I guarantee the description includes personality characteristics and how that person made you feel.

It’s not any different with tutoring.

Let’s face it, your son or daughter can choose at least 5 things they’d rather do outside of school than meet with a tutor. That’s exactly why pairing the right tutor with you child can make the difference between success and failure on test day.

In fact it’s so important to me as the owner that I express to candidates if I don’t get along with you we can’t work together. Now that may sound completely subjective, but relatability is the reason our tutors on average are 10 years older than high school students.

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” is one of my favorite leadership quotes.

Translation: what good is working with a smart tutor if the student doesn’t like or respect them?

What matters is how well the tutor can teach the content and strategy of taking the test to the student independently.

In business, the term culture is brought up frequently. As an entrepreneur, it’s important to find tutors that can pretty much work with any type of student. Part of the interview process to join our team is teaching me some problems so I can experience being in the “student’s shoes.”

It’s easy to identify personalities that mesh well with teenagers. In sports, “player’s coach” is often used which is a perfect analogy for our tutors.

And even though I take pride in my student-tutor matchmaking ability, we take is a step further by offering a free 30 minute video meet and greet with parent, student and tutor.

It’s not impossible to score well preparing alone, but working with our team is having an “edge” on test day (that voice in your head talking you through the process).


The Dreaded Trigger For SAT/ACT Prep


Test prep helps battle the fear of the unknown, or test anxiety.

If I asked you to do a word association for taking the SAT/ACT most descriptors center around stress.

When else in life are you going to take a 4 hour test? (Unless you want to become a doctor or lawyer)

Comprehension is key. If you don’t know the material, you probably won’t score well, BUT studies show the difference between good and great scores come down to limiting mental mistakes.

That can include: rushing, going too slow, not checking your answers, forgetting what you learned, etc.

The methods we use at Growing Forward Academy focus on strategy: how to take the test.

Did you know the makers of the test wrote it to trip students up?

Colleges accept students on a curve and since universities have gotten more competitive over time a higher score on the SAT/ACT is needed just to be considered. (If you want the exact score needed to get into your college of choice: find it here)

Therefore the value in hiring a tutor is being able to identify a problem, eliminate half the the wrong answers immediately and feeling confident in your solving process.

Being in the right mental state helps you perform at the highest level. That’s why the more reps (homework) you accomplish between sessions will produce the greatest results.

There’s a misconception that tutors give students the answers, but we believe that doesn’t really help. Your tutor is not going to take the test for you, so what’s most important is knowing the tips and tricks of the test ahead of time so when they appear on test day you’re prepared.

Most of the students who work with us on test prep transition to academic subjects once the test is over because the “chemistry” between the student-tutor is already there and a lot of the test taking strategies are transferrable to other classes.

The goal here is: to equip your son/daughter with the skills to beat the test. The added confidence of knowing what to expect on test day can heavily influence their future.

Are My Kid’s Grades/Scores Competitive Enough To Get Into College?

Short answer: yes. College acceptance rates are as low as 4.65% (Stanford), but as high as 100% (schools listed here).

But the question you’re probably asking as a parent is centered around desired schools. Any university’s requirements can easily be found online, so having the answers isn’t the problem.

The college admissions process is as follows: 50% GPA, 25% SAT/ACT score & 25% extracurricular activities (leadership, volunteering, clubs, etc). The breakdown in percentages are approximate, but this gives you better sense of the overall equation.

Today the trend is to hire a tutor. What used to be considered a luxury less than 10 years ago is now a necessity. Is it a result of the faltering education system or your child’s learning style?

Both. This post is not about my educational views, but the reality is teachers are put in a no-win situation because within a classroom each student learns differently. Your son/daughter’s struggle academically may have nothing to do with the teacher’s efforts, but the sheer lack of time in a day to accomplish what is being asked of them.

On top of grades, getting into college has become overall more competitive because GPA’s and scores have been rising. The SAT/ACT is more about understanding how the creators made the test than it is about how smart your kid is. Disclaimer: the test is made to trick, not help you achieve a high score.

That’s where trained test prep tutors come in handy. If your child is struggling in math class, no tutor can magically improve their score on the math section of the SAT/ACT in a matter of months (you should hire a math tutor). But, if your kid is doing well in math, but his test prep scores don’t translate, it’s sheerly a strategy issue.

Let’s take a completely different path: what does your son/daughter want to do for a career? Chances are the answer will change several times throughout their life, but as a parent why not assist them in figuring that out before deciding what schools to apply for?

What’s the point of applying to a school if the career they choose isn’t offered as a major? To throw another wrench in there, what if college isn’t the correct next step to their desired occupation?

These are questions your college counselor should be asking, but they usually don’t. Teenagers aren’t the most receptive to their parent’s advice in high school, so sometimes you need additional help of mentors, tutors and role models to point them in the right direction.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone in this! (A lot of parents are worried too)