Tutor.com receives positive reviews but remains underutilized

Gaby Gutierrez, News Editor

If you are panicked the night before a test or have no one to call about a challenging homework assignment, FCPS has a resource to help called Tutor.com.

In the spring of 2022, FCPS announced that it had contracted with Tutor.com to provide online tutoring services to its students. Using federal COVID-19 relief funds, FCPS spent $488,000 to purchase the Tutor.com service for spring of the 2021-22 school year, and the services are estimated to cost the district $2.82 million for the 2022-23 school year.

“One of the reasons why we went with an online tutoring platform such as Tutor.com is because it guarantees access for most of our students and it hopefully eliminates many of the barriers to providing tutoring,” Manager of Tutoring Services for FCPS Joash Chung said. “We wanted to make sure it was as easy and as painless as possible for as many students and families.” 

Tutor.com, owned by the Princeton Review, allows students to access one-to-one tutoring, 24/7, in a number of subjects ranging from world languages to multivariable calculus. However, a report released by FCPS in October of this year revealed that the service was being underutilized by students in the district, especially those who were flagged for needing academic help. Only 1.6% of FCPS students used the service and the average FCPS student logged on to Tutor.com for 29 minutes.

“I think online tutoring is still relatively new,” Chung said. “Students and families might have a hard time imagining what online tutoring looks like. People aren’t used to this type of service and they may not know how easy it is to connect.”

If students had to purchase the tutoring services on their own, the cost would be prohibitive for many. Tutor.com currently advertises its services at a cost of $39.99 per month to get one hour of tutoring, $152.99 per month to get five hours of tutoring and $1,299.99 for 50 hours of tutoring. FCPS students pay no fees to access Tutor.com and can use the service for as many hours as they would like. Tutor.com even offers students free resources to help prepare for the SAT, the ACT and AP exams.

“You get to learn what you want in the way you want and you can ask them as many questions as you want,” sophomore Pranati Nadavaluru said. “They have a waiting room and the maximum I’ve waited for was two minutes. I would definitely recommend it to people, it’s really helpful.”

FCPS students can log onto Tutor.com by clicking on any one of their courses in Schoology and clicking the Tutor.com link in the sidebar to the left. Students are then presented with an information window that asks what subject they would like to be tutored in and whether they would like to chat only or chat with voice. Students can be connected with a tutor in a few minutes, or can schedule a session with a favorite tutor. 

“We have a really dedicated recruitment team,” Vice President of Institutional Sales at Tutor.com John Cavello said. “Every year, we have over 100,000 prospects and less than 1.5% actually move on to become tutors. Each tutor must have a four year degree or be enrolled in a four year accredited institution.”

Part of the reason students may not be using Tutor.com is lack of familiarity with the resource.  Despite the service being advertised through weekly emails to parents and students and a link being available in Schoology, many students have still not heard of Tutor.com. 

“People don’t really talk about using it a lot and it’s not really advertised anywhere,“ freshman Vedika Srivastava said.

The FCPS October report predicts that Tutor.com usage in SY 2022-23 is expected to be significantly greater than the previous school year.  As more students and teachers become familiar with what Tutor.com can offer, Chung expressed confidence that students will utilize the services in increasing numbers.

“Students who want to accelerate their learning, students who want to catch up, or students who are panicking because they have an exam in two hours and don’t know half of what’s on the study guide, take a moment to explore what’s available through Tutor.com,” Chung said.