Interview with Susanna Loeb (Part III): Tutoring Strategies and the Effectiveness of Remote Learning

Interview with Susanna Loeb (Part III): Tutoring Strategies and the Effectiveness of Remote Learning

Across the country, education leaders are scrambling to address the pandemic’s detrimental impacts on student learning. One of the biggest questions school districts are trying to answer is how to find the most effective tutoring strategies to combat learning loss

Dr. Susanna Loeb, director of the Annenberg Institute at Brown University, and her colleagues propose high-impact tutoring as the most promising, evidence-based solution. A second concern is whether online tutoring is proven to be as effective as in-person tutoring sessions. 

In our January 2022 Pearls of Wisdom webinar (embedded below), Dr. Loeb shared her thoughts on these vital questions with Pearl CRO Nate Casey.  We’ve summarized the webinar discussion into a three-part blog series to highlight Dr. Loeb’s key points. In Part I, we discussed the benefits of high-impact tutoring. In Part II, we reviewed Dr. Loeb’s work with the National Student Support Accelerator at the Annenberg Institute.  And now, in the third and final part of our webinar recap, we’ll be discussing the best tutoring strategies and comparing the effectiveness of online vs. in-person tutoring. 

Finding Effective Tutoring Strategies

In the webinar, Dr. Loeb revealed that she’s been “working with districts across the country to test the effectiveness of different approaches to tutoring (…) and to better understand the challenges of implementing high-impact tutoring to overcome those challenges.” 

Among the initial findings from the Annenberg Institute’s research was that “the desire to increase scale comes with a push to decrease quality.” That problem, in turn, quickly cascades into other issues such as assigning too many students per tutor, offering too few tutoring sessions per week, and providing insufficient coaching for tutors. 

By contrast, “high-impact tutoring focuses on quality,” by decreasing the number of students, increasing the frequency of tutoring sessions, and supporting tutors with training. Dr. Loeb noted, though, that “building tutoring into the school day can be tricky. Schools need to be creative to do this well.” 

The most effective tutoring times, her group found, were during homeroom or intervention periods, electives, or before and after school. However, having in-person tutors on hand during these times isn’t always easy, which is why the advantages of online tutoring options are being further explored.  

It is important to note that the problems with K-12 remote learning during the first year of the pandemic were not because online instruction is less effective; the issues were related to curricula not being designed for online lessons, teachers who lacked experience teaching online, and the use of platforms that weren’t designed for teaching in the first place. Online learning also suffered during the first part of the pandemic because of poor internet access and too few modern devices in the hands of underserved students.  These issues don’t necessarily apply to online tutoring, especially if the right tutoring platform is utilized. 

For High-Impact Tutoring to Work Online, Convenience Is Key

Accessibility is a crucial ingredient to making high-impact tutoring work. It also happens to be a key feature of online learning. Indeed, accessibility is one of the leading reasons why college students look for online degree programs. Per Inside Higher Ed, the Department of Education cited that “51.8 percent of students took at least one online course in 2019-20.” Among other benefits, there are no commutes involved, which saves time and energy.  

“Tutoring is an excellent way to increase equity in schools,” stated Dr. Loeb. “However, it can only do this if the students who need it the most get it. That is why it is important to offer tutoring as part of the school day for students who need it the most.” 

When attending tutoring sessions becomes a hassle, students and parents lose interest because access isn’t convenient. Convenience, therefore, is key — but scheduling in-person tutoring isn’t always convenient. That’s where flexible online sessions come into play. Online tutoring removes such barriers to access. So why aren’t more schools doing it?

“Most research on high-impact tutoring looks at in-person programs,” Dr. Loeb told us, noting EdResearch’s “Design Principles Series.” She added, however, that “we’ve seen a lot of virtual school work and virtual tutoring as a result of the pandemic and the initial evidence is very positive. Virtual tutoring can be very effective.” 

Dr. Loeb noted that tutoring during the day “can be virtual even if students are in school. Students would be in classrooms on computers, perhaps with a teacher monitoring the class while the tutors come in virtually.” She raised the idea that in-person sessions might be “ideal” when they “allow [tutors and students] to get to know each other better.” But even the most ideal scenario can’t be effective when all parties don’t show up. Strong tutoring relationships help address students’ academic needs, but this requires attendance and enthusiasm from all sides. 

The Importance of Tutoring Software

Reviewing benefits of online tutoring platforms and software like Pearl, Dr. Loeb pointed out that they “offer the possibility — through audio and video recordings of sessions, for example — of studying the interactions between students and tutors to see what is working and what isn’t.” This capability can greatly help tutors adjust their methods so their work is more effective with each student. 

“Technology-based programs could learn about students’ needs and make those tutors great on the academics while the students benefit from a much more diverse group of educators,” she said. “I’m excited for the learning that we can have from the tutoring that is going on at scale. I am excited about models that use new technologies so that the relationships can be even better and so that the tutor can focus on student needs.”

On How to Attract and Retain Tutors

Schools must not only ensure that tutoring sessions are convenient for students, but for tutors, as well. 

“Districts across the country are having trouble finding teachers, substitute teachers, and, relevant for us, tutors,” Dr. Loeb said. “They need to think about how they can attract and retain the tutors they need.” 

Perhaps the best way to entice qualified tutors is to offer remote work opportunities. This seems especially true given the fact that so many workers have fled the labor force during the “Great Resignation” and are looking for online work they can do from home. 

“A rural school looking for high school math tutors may be better off with virtual tutors,” Dr. Loeb said. “I wouldn’t rule out online tutoring, especially given the new evidence that it can be effective.” She went on to note that “it may be difficult for schools to find tutors with the skills they want — maybe they want tutors who speak a language other than English or tutors with strong high school math skills. In this case, they may attract tutors with these skills if they use online tutoring, but not if they use in-person tutoring.”

She also highlighted the difference between teacher and tutor education and training. “One of the great things about tutoring is that many people can be excellent tutors. Many people with less teaching experience or no teaching experience can also be exceptional tutors, especially if they get some initial training and have some coaching and oversight while teaching.” 

Final Thoughts

It seems certain there are many potential tutors out there just waiting for the right opportunities to come along where they can teach online. The challenge is integrating them into the school day and providing them with the most up-to-date resources so they can establish positive academic relationships with the students they tutor. This includes the right software (like Pearl!) to facilitate such positive learning experiences. 

We hope you’ve enjoyed our Part III recap of Dr. Susanna Loeb’s webinar with Pearl’s Nate Casey. If you missed them, don’t forget to check out Part I, How High-Impact Tutoring Helps At-Risk Students Impacted by COVID-19, and Part II on the Annenberg Institute’s National Student Support Accelerator. 

You can also watch the entire webinar below, and be sure to sign up to be notified of upcoming webinars!

Interview with Susanna Loeb (Part II): The Annenberg Institute’s National Student Support Accelerator

Interview with Susanna Loeb (Part II): The Annenberg Institute’s National Student Support Accelerator

By now, every educator in America has seen firsthand the results of learning loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. While covid has negatively impacted most students, it has especially exacerbated pre-existing educational inequities for low-income and other at-risk students. The impacts of the pandemic on the educational system are both immediate and long-term, as alarming news headlines such as “Learning loss to become $17 Trillion in earning loss for students not in school” become all-too-common. 

Dr. Susanna Loeb, the Director of the Annenberg Institute at Brown University, has been leading discussions among academics who’ve offered very promising evidence-based solutions to combat learning loss. In our January 2022 Pearls of Wisdom webinar interview with Dr. Loeb (embedded below), she shared exciting details of her organization’s work with Pearl’s Chief Revenue Officer Nate Casey. We’ve summarized the discussion into a three-part blog series to highlight the webinar’s key points. In Part I, we discussed the benefits of high-impact tutoring and now, in Part II, we’ll be summarizing Dr. Loeb’s work with the National Student Support Accelerator at the Annenberg Institute.  

Learning Loss: A Pandemic-Fueled Crisis

“Early in the pandemic, it became clear that the disruptions to schools—and the economic and health shocks to families—were going to create severe challenges for many students,” Dr. Loeb noted in the webinar interview. “Some students thrived at home and in online settings, but others experienced extreme hardship and were fundamentally disengaged from school.” 

After meeting with educators and education thought-leaders to review the problem, Dr. Loeb and her colleagues found the ideal solution. “We quickly identified tutoring as a high-potential option for catching students up, re-engaging them in school, and broadly reducing some of the striking and expanding inequalities.” 

“Tutoring,” she stated, “quickly rose to the top of the list of potential solutions because of the large body of research pointing to its effectiveness in catching students up across grade levels and content areas. Research also shows specific success in supporting those students who are furthest behind.” 

Dr. Loeb was quick to point out, however, that simply throwing money at the problem has never been an effective approach. “Many of us remembered the No Child Left Behind era in which billions of dollars were spent on a different type of tutoring that turned out not to be terribly effective or equitable.” Her group’s goal was to avoid such wasteful outcomes while addressing other challenges simultaneously. 

Enter: the National Student Support Accelerator 

Dr. Loeb and her peers needed a solution that would remain effective while scaling. “We were aware that tutoring on a large scale had been attempted before, but with low quality and poor results,” she noted. To tackle the issue, the Annenberg Institute proposed to launch the National Student Support Accelerator to scale high-quality, high-impact tutoring. “Our mission at the Accelerator is to increase access to high-impact tutoring for K-12 students in need,” she stated, clarifying how the work will involve “conducting and coordinating research to know more about what makes tutoring effective and cost-effective” and “what enabling conditions allow it to scale.” 

Another vital attribute of the Accelerator is collaboration across the board to ensure everyone is actively working toward goal achievement. “We work to engage and activate stakeholders to support districts and states to implement high-impact tutoring more easily,” Dr. Loeb said before transitioning to the numerous features and benefits of the Accelerator program. 

The Accelerator’s Resources and Tools for High-Impact Tutoring

“The Accelerator has a range of tools to support the implementation of high-impact tutoring that are available free on our website,” affirmed Dr. Loeb. “Each of the tools is developed with the field to ensure they are practical and easy to use.” 

Below is a summary of each currently available tutoring resource:

Toolkit for Tutoring Programs 

“Toolkit for Tutoring provides guidance for creating a high-impact tutoring program or improving an existing program. It will take you step by step through the process, including identifying needs, and all the way to sample letters to send to parents and job descriptions.” 

The toolkit focuses on the seven elements of high-impact tutoring: Program Design, Tutors, Learning Integration, Data Use, Instruction, Equity, Safety, and Cohesion. 

District Playbook

“The District Playbook provides guidance for districts interested in implementing high-impact tutoring. It has everything from checklists of how to plan for tutoring or how to partner with a tutoring organization to what type of human resource capacity is required to be successful.”

Specifically, the free, downloadable Playbook shows users how to develop and launch programs via the following steps: Lay the Foundation, Plan for Effective Operations, Design for Impact, and Implement High-Impact Tutoring. 

Tutoring Database

A comprehensive database that “provides details on over 200 tutoring providers to assist districts in identifying potential tutoring partners.” 

The database was made primarily for districts, states, and nonprofits seeking tutoring partners. Organizations can easily request access to the database by completing this form.

Educator Guide 

Created for High-Impact Tutoring Advocacy, the Educator Guide “provides educators with the information and tools to understand the value of high-impact tutoring and how it might work at their district or school how to encourage their district or school to consider adopting high-impact tutoring.”

This useful guide was made in conjunction with the Tutoring Advisory Group and offers sample emails, program examples, FAQs, presentations, talking points, and a one-pager about the benefits of the Accelerator. 

Tutoring Quality Improvement System

The free Tutoring Quality Improvement System “allows tutoring programs to quickly assess their program against a set of research-based quality standards and provides detailed recommendations for how to improve their program’s quality.”

Tutoring Research

The Annenberg Institute publishes its research on tutoring to date, along with “priority questions to guide for future learning.” Additional research soon to be released includes data on Early Literacy programs and more. 

Given that low-income families were hit hardest by the pandemic (with impacts including profound student learning loss and increased school absenteeism), the National Student Support Accelerator “envisions a time when every student in need has access to an effective tutor who champions and ensures their learning and success.” We wish the best of success for this urgently-needed national program.  

Stay tuned for Part III of our recap of the webinar with Dr. Susanna Loeb which offers an insightful comparison of online and in-person tutoring effectiveness and reviews the best tutoring strategies.

You can also watch the entire webinar below, and be sure to sign up to be notified about Pearl’s upcoming webinars!

6 Signs You Need Tutoring Business Software 

6 Signs You Need Tutoring Business Software 

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to devastating learning loss among student populations around the country while creating a chance for entrepreneurial tutors to rush in and save the day! The year 2021 saw tutoring become a hot side hustle for some and a full-time business endeavor for others. Now, in 2022, many tutors are continuing to offer their tutoring services as part-time gigs, while those with broader goals are launching highly-profitable, scalable tutoring enterprises. 

No matter how big or small your tutoring business is, at some point, you’re going to need professional software to help you stay organized and manage your tutoring enterprise. Here are 6 signs you’re ready to take things to the next level with professional tutoring business software.

1. Your inbox is clogged

Your tutoring business must stay on top of communications to maintain a professional reputation. If you’re struggling to keep track of important messages with clients via email, it’s probably past time to move on to a better way of doing things. 

Pearl’s tutoring business software lets you keep all your business messaging in one place, so you never lose track again! 

2. You’ve missed appointments with students 

Each time students miss scheduled tutoring sessions, that’s a loss of revenue for your business. Of course, you can set a policy to charge for missed appointments, but that might lead to frustrations with clients. 

The simplest way to address this issue is with a built-in reminder system that keeps students, parents—and you—on time and on schedule. Pearl lets you book, view, and manage appointments quickly and send calendar reminders for upcoming tutoring sessions.

3. You need an easier payment management

Are you tired of wasting time with manual accounting for your business tax purposes? Want to get rid of the hassle of checks or cash payments, but need a more efficient way to manage credit card payments for your tutoring sessions? 

At Pearl, our tutoring software offers easy-to-use storefront payment management features that help you do all these things and more!

4. You’re struggling to keep track of student progress

Tutoring is a financial investment for clients, and sometimes clients wonder how effective their sessions are. The fastest way to show them is through progress tracking, which helps your business demonstrate the value of your tutoring services. When clients see their return on investment, you’ll retain them longer. 

Pearl was built by tutors for tutors, so we’ve built progress tracking tools right into our tutoring platform.

5. You need more virtual classroom features

Many tutors conducting online lessons rely on video conferencing tools like Zoom or Google Meet to connect with students. Unfortunately, such tools weren’t built for educational purposes and often lack essential features you may need to share information or hold your students’ interest. 

Pearl’s tutoring business software includes more engaging video conferencing with whiteboards and screen sharing conveniently built into your dashboard.

6. You need the ability to review lessons 

Both clients and tutors love the ability to record sessions for later viewing. This capability allows students to go back and review material while enabling tutors to look for areas where students might be losing focus during lessons. 

Too many tutoring entrepreneurs try to scrape by without the proper tools at their disposal, leading to wasted time, points of frustration, and potential loss of customers. 

Pearl takes the headache out of managing your daily operations so you can focus on the things that are most important—such as teaching students effectively…and growing your tutoring business! 


To schedule a demo and see Pearl in action, get in touch with us today by filling out this contact form.

What Is High-Impact Tutoring?

What Is High-Impact Tutoring?

Is your child struggling to keep up with school? COVID-19 disrupted the education system, but high-impact tutoring is the solution. Learn how your kids can benefit from it.

COVID-19 may be under control for now, but the consequences it left behind continue to affect our lives. In the education sector, student outcomes are now seeing a dramatic drop in subject proficiencies due to disrupted classes.

In fact, more than half (60%) of fourth-graders are failing in math proficiency, and nearly two-thirds are failing in reading. The numbers only get worse among eighth-graders, proving that students across the United States have experienced “learning loss” due to the pandemic. And we need to act fast to turn things around.

Fortunately, several states have already introduced and enacted a policy for introducing high-impact tutor training styles to help students get back on track. High-impact tutoring has proven to be effective in assisting students to achieve better outcomes, and increases their learning capability by up to 15 months across grade levels.

Let’s discuss why high-impact tutoring is so significant and why it’s an excellent investment for your child, especially during these unprecedented times.

What Is High-Impact Tutoring and How Does It Work? 

High-impact tutoring focuses on meeting individual students’ needs and building a close relationship with them. It’s an approach that aims to understand what areas the student struggles with and adapts the teaching strategy accordingly. This methodology is meant to complement traditional schooling. It does not replace it.

According to the National Student Support Accelerator, high-impact tutoring revolves around a growth cycle

A student first receives high-quality materials at a high-dosage, where they study for at least 2-3 hours per week. The lessons are then integrated into school, where the trained tutor will see how the student is performing. Using the results as indicators of the student’s capabilities, the tutor adjusts the materials and continues teaching.

Source: National Student Support Accelerator

Compared to regular teachers, high-impact tutors are supported by ongoing coaching and accountability. They are highly knowledgeable about the subjects they teach and are skilled at building relationships-something that’s crucial for effective teaching.

Moreover, high-impact tutoring content meets state standards and applies the latest educational research. These materials build on classroom lessons and prioritize quality over matching the school’s curriculum. In other words, they are uniquely designed according to the student’s needs, not just the requirements needed for passing classroom exams.

High-impact tutoring programs uphold 3 core pillars: 

  1. Equity: All students should have access to the program, where the teachers are intentionally trained to conduct sessions with equity at its core.
  1. Safety: Multiple policies and systems are also in place to guarantee a safe learning environment for the child. 
  1. Cohesion: All elements of the learning program are designed to work together as a complete package.

Why Should You Choose a High-Impact Tutor for Your Child?

To quote Monica Bhatt, the senior research director at the University of Chicago’s Education Lab, “[a]s education leaders look for ways to help students recover academically from the pandemic, a new study points to intensive, high-dosage tutoring as a potential solution.”

There are a number of design principles that make high-impact tutoring effective. EdResearch for Recovery provides reliable data and reasons as to why it produces significant learning gains for students, providing help for those who have fallen behind academically:

  • Frequency: High-impact tutoring is delivered at a high dosage for optimum outcomes. Having at least 3 sessions per week, for 30 to 60 minutes each, is the minimum frequency required to get optimal results. 
  • Personnel: The tutors are equipped with unique skills beyond a regular teacher’s ability. They are not your typical teachers-they may even be AmeriCorps members and teaching assistants that are just as effective at tutoring both one-on-one and small groups.
  • Measurement: High-impact tutoring uses data to assess students and customize instructions. For example, the Reading Partners program conducts mid-year and end-of-year assessments to update student materials, giving tutors the data necessary to create personalized lessons.
  • Curriculum: High-impact tutoring content reinforces classroom content to strengthen the student’s understanding. In fact, tutoring interventions increased student achievement by 3 to 15 months of learning.
  • Delivery Mode: Research shows that distance learning is just as effective as in-person classes. In fact, a recent evaluation of the Saga Education tutoring program found that a blended or hybrid model increases student learning just as much as expensive, in-person tutoring does.
  • Group Size: High-impact tutoring ensures that class size won’t hinder personalized instructions, making sure that they are only grouped by skill level and required teaching. Large-scale tutoring programs still generate an average effect size of 0.25 standard deviations.
  • Focus: All students can benefit from high-impact tutoring. Younger students generally benefit the most from reading-focused materials, while older ones benefit more from math-related subjects. A study of Math tutoring programs saw a reduction in math course failures by 50%, and increased the overall math grades of ninth and tenth graders.
  • Relationships: High-impact tutoring builds relationships to better understand students’ needs. Moreover, tutoring programs built on trust and connection with the students support a wide range of benefits, including the students’ social-emotional well-being and outlook towards education.
  • Scheduling: High-impact tutoring during the school day results in twice the amount of learning gains, as shown by a recent meta-analysis of tutoring. It’s largely because tutoring during school days facilitates a more learning-focused culture.
  • Prioritization: The program targets all students in a lower-performing grade-removing the negative perception that tutoring is a punishment for below-average students. It also mitigates learning loss from COVID-19, where inequality in educational outcomes and access to professional tutors have increased.

As you can see, the effectiveness of high-impact tutoring is backed by strong evidence. If you’re a parent who is concerned about your child’s academic standing, especially if they’re grappling with COVID-19-fueled learning loss, choosing high-impact tutoring means giving them a chance to boost their learning and improve their outlook towards education.

FAQs About High-Impact Tutoring

If you still have concerns about high-impact tutoring, here are a few answers to frequently asked questions:

Q: Is there a difference between high-impact tutoring, high-intensity tutoring, or high-dosage tutoring? 

A: No, there is no difference. All of them are one-on-one or small group instructional programs designed to heighten a student’s ability to learn and increase their stocked knowledge.

Q: Isn’t it better to just let my child repeat the grade? 

There is no straightforward answer to this, as some students will certainly benefit from repeating a grade level. However, repeating a grade may backfire by hurting the child’s confidence and potentially increasing the chances of them dropping out of school eventually. Giving them the opportunity to accelerate instead will be much healthier in the long run.

Q: How will high-impact tutoring policy changes affect students? 

A: The federal government can help scale high-impact tutoring programs to students by increasing funding for school districts, expanding national service programs, and issuing guidelines to how the tutoring programs can serve all students.

10 Mistakes Tutors Make When They’re Just Starting Out

10 Mistakes Tutors Make When They’re Just Starting Out

Arguably the nationwide need for tutors has never been greater than it is today. The pandemic wreaked havoc on schools, disrupting student learning and causing an unprecedented knowledge gap. Tutors are on the frontlines doing damage control as they help students catch up. Of course, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, tutoring has never been more accessible thanks to user-friendly online resources and affordable tutoring software

The high demand for tutors, combined with the relative ease of getting started, leads all too many fresh-faced tutors to make classic rookie mistakes. Some are pretty obvious, but a few might surprise you! Instead of setting off to reinvent the wheel, take a moment to learn from your predecessors about the common mistakes tutors make when they’re starting out. Here are 10 of the most common mistakes newbie tutors tend to make and some tips for how you can avoid them:

1. Being Unprepared

Many subject matter experts are filled with a desire to tutor students yet have zero practical experience. As a result, they underestimate the work involved. As any experienced educator will tell you, knowing the material doesn’t make you a teacher.  Effectively teaching a subject to another person requires training, even if it is self-taught through watching videos from professional educators or reading books about tutoring strategies. Equally important is having the correct mindset, which is why we recommend checking out SUNY Potsdam’s 10 Golden Rules for Being a Good Tutor.

2. Not Treating It Like a Business

Even if you only plan to tutor as a side hustle, it’s essential to think of your enterprise as a self-employed small business. As with any business, you should develop a general business plan outlining your goals and strategies for reaching them. 

As a business owner, it’s always wise to plan ahead and think about how things will change as your tutoring business scales and you secure more students or perhaps hire more tutors to help with the client load. As a professional tutor, you’ll need to outline a budget, chart anticipated earnings, and estimate expected costs. Expenses should include branding, marketing, and advertising, as well as supplies or any tutoring software you plan to use. 

And don’t forget to budget in the costs of self-employment tax on top of your income tax if your tutoring business nets you $400 or more by the end of the year. 

3. Choosing Inadequate Tutoring Software

For years, colleges and universities have embraced distance learning through online platforms made for education. Online classes are proven to remove barriers and improve access to higher ed, yet K-12 schools were slower to adopt these technologies…until COVID-19 forced them to. K-12 schools received an abrupt introduction to remote learning due to the pandemic and now, nearly two years on, most schools have adopted hybrid models of learning. 

Tutors have been relatively proactive in embracing e-learning from the start, but they often make the mistake of not choosing the right tutoring management platform. Standard video conferencing apps like Zoom won’t cut it in the long run because they don’t offer some of the important features a hybrid tutoring business needs like file sharing and storage, secure messaging, easy payment collection, and built-in analytic tools to track student progress. 

Not sure why you need tutoring software to run your business? Have a look at our recent blog outlining the 7 reasons why you need tutoring software if you’re a professional educator. 

4. Lack of Creative Branding and Marketing

It won’t matter if you’re the world’s greatest tutor if customers don’t know you exist! So how do you get their attention? Professional and attractive branding and strategic marketing are tried-and-true methods of spreading the word about your tutoring services.

All too often new tutors underestimate the importance of branding and marketing, or they fail to do sufficient market research ahead of time. For example, think about who your target students are and what avenues and approaches are most suitable to reach them at? If you’re planning to purchase a website domain name, register an LLC, snag a social media handle, or trademark a snazzy new slogan, put enough forethought into these elements to ensure they are distinctive, appropriate, and catchy. 

Next, use organic marketing tactics and paid advertising (like Google Ads or Facebook Ads) to get the word out to the right potential clients that your tutoring services are open for business. There are plenty of free resources online (eg. YouTube, Coursera, Khan Academy, etc.) for you to learn the basics of marketing and advertising your fledgling tutoring business.

5. Overestimating the Need for Your Services

Yes, there’s a high demand for tutors — in general. But is there an underserved need in your local area for tutors in your area of expertise? New tutors sometimes fail to assess the market and thus struggle to fill their openings. Either there’s already too much competition, or perhaps local schools offer free tutoring on the topic you teach. Do your homework before diving in or investing any capital in your tutoring business.

That being said, if you’re planning to offer your tutoring services primarily or solely online, then the possibilities are endless, and you can tutor virtually anyone, anywhere. 

6. Not Having a Good Space to Teach In 

Tutoring in the comfort of your own home may sound like a dream come true, but there are many factors to consider. Often, tutors simply don’t have suitable space with adequate lighting and sufficient supplies on hand to tutor from home. Other times, their home isn’t easy to travel to, or perhaps parking is difficult, which can be a huge turnoff for potential clients. Unless you plan to go big, renting an office space in town isn’t a likely option for most newbie tutors. 

To have your cake and eat it too, we suggest incorporating an online option, so you can work from home while your students stay at their homes. Check out our recent article on How to Start a Home-Based Tutoring Business for more tips that’ll save you from costly oversights and miscalculations!  

7. Indecisiveness About Your Tutoring Model

Historically many tutors have preferred live interactions with students. However, times are changing, and live or in-person lessons aren’t always practical or feasible, so you don’t want to limit yourself. In 2021, savvy tutors are weighing the best options for their customers’ wants and needs and discovering that online and hybrid models are increasingly popular. 

Online lessons offer flexibility and easier access since there are no geographic barriers and no commute time. Meanwhile, with the plethora of inexpensive mobile devices and laptops out there, almost every student can now sign up for fast, no-hassle online instruction.   

8. Not Making It Easy for Your Students

Customer service extends beyond being polite and attentive when a customer is in front of you; it also includes thinking ahead about ways to make your customer’s experience as enjoyable and stress-free as possible. 

That said, who is the “customer” — the student or the parent? Depending on the age of your students, they may be the ones paying for their sessions, or it could be their parents. But no matter who is footing the bill, the focus must be on the student as the recipient of your lessons and the primary end-user of any tutoring software involved. 

Every logistical detail about your tutoring lessons should be as simple and friction-less as possible. From booking sessions to submitting homework or paying invoices, you want to eliminate anything that makes the process inconvenient, annoying, or distracting. 

The same goes for making it easy on parents, too. For younger students, parental engagement is a critical factor in their success; however, you don’t want a helicopter Mom or Dad eyeballing everything their child does during a session. This makes it hard for students to focus, especially when they are already combating the serious effects of learning loss stemming from COVID-19. 

9. Setting a Tutoring Rate That’s Too High or Too Low

Setting your rate is one of the most important considerations when establishing a tutoring business. Yet new tutors frequently price themselves too low or they set their rates unjustifiably high. 

How much should you charge as a new tutor? The simple answer is — charge as much as you’re able to get. That doesn’t necessarily equate to what you feel your time and expertise are worth, though. As the Harvard Business Review notes, “the right answer to that question is a company should charge ‘what the market will bear’ — in other words, the highest price that customers will pay.” 

To determine that dollar figure, it’s helpful to empathize with your target customer. For example, if you have a killer reputation to justify a higher price point and know how to successfully market your talents, you might target high-net-worth students or parents. But if your goal is to stay affordable to the average student or parent, take an objective look at what local tutors are charging and how your experience compares. 

Keep in mind, tutors offering online lessons may have less overhead and can offer lower rates. Discounted small group rates are another way to stay within the average person’s budget. 

10. Not Establishing Policies 

It’s handy to have your general policies in place and easily accessible to customers, either by posting them to your website or sending them out to new enrollees. These should be clear, reasonable, and easy to digest, so students or parents don’t skim over anything important. It’s also good to request confirmation and agreement to your policies and terms in the event of a later dispute. This helps ensure everyone is accountable and lets them know they are entering a partnership with your tutoring business with the goal of achieving positive student outcomes.

At a minimum, cite your policies on charging for no-shows or short notice cancellations. If offering in-person tutoring lessons, state your COVID-19 guidelines or requirements to maximize everyone’s safety (and decrease your liability). If you plan on offering snacks or drinks, ask about food allergies and get consent in writing. 

The ten mistakes listed above are a few of the most common misjudgments new tutors are prone to make when starting out. You’re sure to discover a few on your own through trial and error, but we hope this list helps you avoid as many headaches as possible! And if you’re looking for a partner to help you scale your tutoring business, get in touch with us today and ask us how Pearl can help you build a successful tutoring business.

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