Third-Party Tutoring + Office Hours = The Perfect Solution

Posted by Sahil on Feb 18, 2021 10:18:51 AM

Have you ever thought about what time your students actually open up their textbooks to study? 

It’s usually after school, after sports (1.5 hrs.), after running some errands (1 hr.), after taking care of the younger siblings (45 mins), and after dinner (1 hr.). 

Add all this up, and it puts you somewhere after 7 pm. This kind of schedule introduces some pretty interesting problems when thinking about adding tutoring resources to help students. 

Most TRiO programs have ‘on-campus’ or ‘in-person’ tutoring

woman in black sleeveless top

In-person tutoring and face-to-face interactions are essential for TRiO programs and the students they serve. This personal interaction builds trust, allows you to get to know your students, and builds culture/community. 

As a result, most TRiO programs offer in-person tutoring by having their TRiO students work with high school teachers, grad students, and trusted advisors.

Usually, these in-person office hours are offered on a recurring basis, sounding something like:

Monday - Thurs from 3 pm - 6 pm

Saturday school from 9 am - 12 pm

Every 1st Saturday of the month

There are a few issues here when we speak to TRiO staff when looking at the schedules above: 

  • They’re making students alter their already extremely packed schedule and perhaps putting off other tasks that are important to family life.
  • Students are now spending more time self-selecting when they want to learn something.
  • Students are incredibly tech-savvy and are experts in the latest-and-greatest apps (TikTok, Snapchat, clubhouse, etc.) - Zoom doesn’t cut it. 

What do students want?

To be honest, students want it all

Their wants change day-to-day, and you need to be prepared to have resources to help whichever way possible. If their home life is stressful and challenging, perhaps they want to come in-person and spend time with their advisor/tutor. 

However, if they go home and get stuck on a homework assignment due the next day and their advisor/tutor is not available, they feel like they’re stranded.

If they’re stuck on a problem at 10 pm, they don’t want a lengthy google sheet signup process for a tutor that’s only available in 3 days (past deadline). And they definitely don’t want to jump on a zoom, put on makeup, and deal with all the tech issues associated with that. 

So how do you give them everything?

There are two boxes you need to check when thinking about what resources to make available to your students. 

Box #1: In-person office hours with tutors the students know and trust 

Box #2: 24/7 virtual tutoring platform built for students based on applications that they are already using

These two resources work hand-in-hand with each other. In-person office hours offer more extended hours, 1:1 time to build rapport and trust with your students. 

Virtual tutoring should be:

  • Noninvasive
  • Quick
  • Familiar
  • Instant-connect
  • Mobile and message-based (no zooming or phone calls)

Affordability is also another essential factor when building a comprehensive tutoring program. Most on-campus or in-school tutoring won’t cost you too much -- you’re probably paying $15-25 / hr, which is affordable, so there’s some budget leftover.

woman in blue dress shirt using macbook air

Put it towards a third-party tutoring provider. When evaluating, you should look for a platform that provides these solutions: 

  • Fixed cost - per student/month for a period of time (this way, 20% of your super-active students won’t use all your hours, credits, tokens, etc.) You’ll never have to say “No” to the shy student that finally raises their hand for help.
  • Promotes engagement - you shouldn’t have to pay more if your students love the application. That’s counterintuitive.
  • Real-time, mobile-friendly, and 24/7 - each step you ask a student to take, you’ll see a % drop off. It’s essential to have a solution that opens with a click of a button whenever they need it and can match them with a tutor at that exact moment in time that they need help.

We’d love to share more insight into our findings over the past four years of working in TRiO. Today, the tutoring platform PhotoStudy serves 215+ TRiO programs across the country and empowers them to maintain their in-person schedules while offering 24/7, mobile-based tutoring that students love. 


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