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New sites help students find subject tutors

By Ariana Assaf, Daily Staff Reporter
Published January 29, 2013

Wouldn’t it be nice to get a tricky homework question answered in the middle of the night or find a tutor who your friends have already used and recommend? Two new companies targeting students — one started by a University student — are working to do just that.

LSA sophomore Ryan Gottfried is helping students find tutors with his new website, TutorScoop. TutorScoop is an academic social networking site that connects students at the University with tutors who are trained in a range of subjects.

Gottfried launched the website in beta form on Jan. 17, but developed it for about a year prior to its release.

TutorScoop aims to simplify the process for students to find tutors. There are currently more than 75 tutors and 300 students signed up, and these numbers continue to rise, Gottfried said.

“Thousands of UM students seek out tutors each year, and TutorScoop is here to finally make that process easier,” Gottfried said.

The site not only enables tutors to find students online, but it also gives them the ability to build up their businesses and brand themselves. Bookings and payments are both done online.

TutorScoop empowers its student base by allowing customers to review their tutors and give recommendations to their peers. A student who finds a tutor with good reviews and a schedule that suits his or hers can book an appointment instantly.

“We are quite literally a service for students, by students,” Gottfried said.

Gottfried hopes to expand his program to other colleges in the fall and eventually add a video chat feature. A rewards program is also in the works. The hope is that students who are very active on TutorScoop can also earn benefits from local businesses.

InstaEDU, another paid tutor service founded by Alison Johnston, Dan Johnston and Joey Shurtleff, has a similar mission of helping both high school and college students find a tutor.

While studying at Stanford University, the brother-sister duo got involved in the tutoring business by founding an in-home tutoring company. They soon realized, however, that although high-school students learned well from college students, in-home tutoring was not always an economically feasible option and not all students needed weekly-scheduled tutoring sessions.

Shurtleff, who was working at a similar company of his own at the time, started talking with the Johnstons about creating an online, on-demand platform where students and tutors could work together from across the country instantly.

InstaEDU was launched last May, and continues to look for more tutors, including tutors from the University.

“We have Michigan tutors that we really, really love,” Alison said.

InstaEDU users create a profile and then are able to see through Facebook or Gchat plugins whether tutors are online and available. Once a student puts in a request, he or she is matched with whichever tutor responds first in InstaEDU’s online classroom. At the core of InstaEDU is an ability to get students help the second they need it, Alison said.

“That whole setup is designed to give students and tutors either a ten-minute lesson, or the ability to really dive in (to the material).”