Cambridge Education Consultants
Quality Tutoring at Affordable Rates
Website or social media url(s) (optional):
Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.
Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)
1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."
At the start of my freshman fall semester, my roommate was telling me about his work at a prominent tutoring agency. He lamented the lack of training he was given and how he felt like he just wasn't helping his clients, some of whom were paying over $100 an hour for the service. After doing some research online I also discovered that tutors like him were being paid just a fraction of that rate, often 20% or less. It occurred to me then that it wouldn't take much to fix both the problem of the client and the tutor by creating affordable tutoring opportunities for kids who don't have access to the existing services within the current industry. I was really exciting about the idea and got to work planning out a website, business strategy, marketing approach, and tutoring, and my partner Alex and I have been working hard since to develop our infrastructure.
2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
Tutoring right now is unacceptably inaccessible to low income families. Families that can't afford upwards of $50/hour tutoring are left to navigate unreliable local markets filled with untrained, under-qualified, and inexperienced local tutors. This has drastic ramifications for upward social mobility given the importance of education nowadays and the state of college admissions.
3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
Our solution addresses the two key aspects of the problem, the financial side and the tutoring quality side in a couple of ways. First and foremost is budgeting. We plan on devoting the vast majority (75% or more) of our revenue to our tutors. In order to accomplish this, we’re cutting out administrative expenses by leveraging our position as students to source more volunteers like ourselves from our classmates and by operating more efficiently. Thus far our only operating cost has been a $16 a month Squarespace account. We also think our price points and the lack of competition at them will allow us to keep marketing costs low, especially once we start to gain traction. Utilizing online platforms like Skype and Facetime also cuts explicit and implicit transportation costs and affords us international reach, without, as research has indicated, detracting from educational value. On the tutoring quality side of things, we’re making tutoring training a focus, while recruiting from the same talent pools as major companies. Our own experience tutoring has given us a lot of insight into what makes a good tutor, and we’re developing an extensive, mandatory training program for our tutors.
4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.
Imagine a high school student who hits a really busy patch during his junior year finals. He’s really struggling with a couple of the key concepts in his math and physics classes, in particular, and is really worried about his finals for them. In less than 5 minutes, this student could sign up for tutoring at CEC, and within the day get a schedule planned for him, connect from his desk to a trained and qualified tutor, and get several hours of private, 1 on 1 help with the challenging concepts at an affordable rate. With the help of CEC, this student not only targets the issues in his classes before he
5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?
We see our idea as unique because it targets perhaps the leading indicator of social mobility, which is education. The problem of social and educational (im)mobility is to us one of the world’s more pressing issues, and the private tutoring component of it is one of the many elements of the problem. Another aspect of our project that we see as unique is its potential scope and growth. We see our market as huge as is, and growing at that, and don’t see any reason why we can’t help thousands of students across the world.
6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?
Our first student worked with us for several months just once a week, and improved his SAT score by almost 150 points. For the schools he’s looking at, this improvement took him from being in the 25th percentile of enrolled students to the 75th percentile, likely giving him a much better shot at being accepted. However, empowering him with confidence in all his academic work has perhaps been our biggest impact, and he’s reported feeling a lot better about assignments in several of his classes after working with us on math, critical reading, and writing. We’re really excited to see our student continue to pursue his educational aspirations going forward, and also to see where it takes him professionally.
7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?
The most important thing for us at the moment is getting exposure. So far we just haven’t been able to fund any marketing and have been limited to grassroots approaches. We see web-based advertising, like Google Adsense, some sort media exposure that gives us legitimacy, and local efforts within our local communities as three key avenues for growth. Further, we’ve been in contact with an organization called PeerLift run by several of our friends that guides high school students to affordable learning opportunities, and a collaboration could be really beneficial for us as they are already well funded and developed. Another key growth idea is to again utilize the talents of some of our classmates to develop data driven tutoring techniques.
8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?
Definitely one thing we don’t know a lot about is marketing, and would benefit from workshopping that area of the organization. In general we would love advice on the various technical aspects of running an organization like ours. We would also love to be able to meet new team members who could bring creativity and passion to our team as well, as we are relatively small as is. Space for a local tutoring center could really help us impact the Cambridge community, especially for potential larger earning courses that we would be interested in running. Finally, funding for some of our advertising, as well as to help us keep our website live would be really helpful for us.
9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?
10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.
The core of our business is young people. Our mission focuses on not only maximizing opportunities for these young people, but also empowering them to get the necessary education in order to develop their passions and ignite change. Several of the other changemakers are taking similar approaches as us, like the Progredi project and the 10 Minute School Augmented Reality Education App. Since both of these projects focus on the technology side of education, we could partner with them to both integrate their technologies into our tutoring, and to expand our educational services beyond 1 on 1 private tutoring and into more online based learning resources. Other changemakers that target students of the same 13-18 year old age range as us could also be potential partners, like the J and C Hair and Apparal LLC. project. We envision a partnership where we pursue the same clients with our individual organization goals, helping each other reach a broader community.
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