Posted on 16 October 2009.
Quick Help on the Fast Track
For this accelerated student with a busy schedule, Tutor.com offers exactly what she needs—when she needs it.
It’s 4:00 p.m. and Kennedy is at her friend Jenna’s house studying advanced Algebra. Music plays low in the background and they have just stumbled on an equation neither of them is sure how to attack. Thankfully Kennedy, 12, has turned her neighborhood on to the benefits of online tutoring service Tutor.com, and after a few clicks, an online tutor is walking the students through the sticking point of the problem.
Kennedy is one of the more than three million students in the U .S. who are taking advanced classes or have been promoted a grade. When the seventh-grader tested out of her math class, she was placed into a more challenging freshman Algebra class. And while this jump allows Kennedy access to a faster track to learning, it presents challenges for her mother, Angela.
“I had a lot of reservations about letting Kennedy move that far ahead that quickly,” says Angela. “Part of it was because they were going so fast. I worried that if she struggled, I wouldn’t be able to help her keep up.”
Even if finding the vertex of a parabola happens to be fresh in a parent’s mind, the bigger hurdle can be finding time in the parent’s and student’s schedules for homework help. This is where services like Tutor.com can play a pivotal role for academically gifted and perpetually busy students like Kennedy.
“After school I almost always have basketball, church groups, or something like that. When I come home, I get my chores done and then do my homework but I usually don’t go to bed until around 10:00 p.m.,” says Kennedy. “It’s nice to have Tutor.com because when I am struggling, I can log on and work through a problem anytime.”
Advancing Over the Hurdles
Kennedy’s mom Angela heard about Tutor.com through a friend and immediately set up an account for her daughter. “I told her, ‘Here’s your account. Try it out and see what you think,’” says Angela.
When Kennedy’s first homework assignment of the school year came back from her advanced Algebra class, it wasn’t good. Out of six problems, Kennedy got one right—it was a big letdown for a kid who is always being praised for her good grades.
It was then that Kennedy first accessed her account. She logged on and was quickly assigned to a knowledgeable algebra tutor, who walked Kennedy through the basics of the online tools before launching into that day’s homework.
“They asked me if I understood the problem at all, or if I was just stuck at one part. I explained to the tutor what I didn’t get about it before they walked through the whole problem with me on the whiteboard,” Kennedy says.
Home Is Where the Help Is
While Angela believes that emotionally and socially Kennedy should be with kids her own age, she doesn’t want to hold her daughter back.
“Math is an area where she wants to be challenged, so as a parent, it’s my job to make sure that she’s really building on that without pushing her forward too fast. Tutor.com has been a great tool for us in that regard. It’s very important that Kennedy is really being taught, not just memorizing things and leaping ahead.”
And since math knowledge builds on itself, Angela is certain that without Tutor.com, Kennedy wouldn’t be accelerating properly. Angela says Kennedy’s other option, in-person tutoring, could not have filled in the space for them.
“We were paying $45 an hour, once a week, to an in-person tutor and the results were good—but that service was based on when the tutor was available, not necessarily when Kennedy needed him,” says Angela. “Using Tutor.com has allowed me to take a deep breath and say, ‘Okay, that’s one less thing I have to drive her to, worry about, pay a lot for and schedule.’ Now it’s all right there for her whenever she needs it.”