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Iowa tutoring works to remain helpful

BY MEGAN DEPPE | DECEMBER 16, 2013 5:00 AM

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As the prices for tutors rise all across the United States, Iowa City tutoring services try their best to remain affordable and helpful for students.

The tutoring industry is booming — according to NBC News, the typical salary for a full-time tutor has jumped to between $70,000 and $120,000, depending on the requirements of the student.

While tutoring services in Iowa are not charging quite that much, there is still a steady need in the industry across all grade levels.

Zach Wahls, a University of Iowa student and freelancer for The Daily Iowan who owns Iowa City Learns, said the need for tutoring has not lessened since he opened his business in 2009.

“As someone who received tutoring when I was younger, I knew the demand was there,” he said.
Wahls’ business is a service for middle- and high-school students in the Iowa City School District.

Iowa City Learns has not had an increase in price since it opened, which Wahls attributed as “we’ve got a good thing going, so we’re not trying to fix what isn’t broken.”

“I think there are a lot of people trying to help, but tutoring can be expensive, and sometimes the people who need the most help cannot afford it,” Wahls said.

One of the problems with tutoring is students sometimes do not seek help until late in the semester, which makes it more difficult for tutors to help them in the way they need.

Caitlin Phelan, an undergraduate teaching assistant at the UI who works in the business fraternity Beta Alpha Psi to connect struggling business students with tutors, said she has seen this problem.

“The biggest issue is that people decide they need help after the second midterm,” Phelan said.

Generally, she said, most students won’t sign up to get a tutor until at least a month into the semester, and which requirs the tutor to spend more time going over old material close to tests. She said this is not helpful for tutors, because they wish to help students learn as best they can, and going over all the material at once is not generally what they strive for.

Waiting until the last minute also makes it more difficult to find tutors who are not busy trying to study themselves, said to Beta Alpha Psi tutor Megan Cerney.

“We’ve been struggling to finding enough tutoring for the ‘tutorees,’ ” Cerney said. “I definitely think there’s been a shortage.”

Cerney said her tutoring service through Beta Alpha Psi is free, and she believes it helps students.
“It’s easy access, and it’s free,” Cerney said. “Tutoring can get pretty expensive.”

Phelan said half of Beta Alpha Psi is involved in the tutoring program, and the service has had to turn down only five students this semester.

She also said while tutoring is beneficial for the students receiving help, it’s also good practice for the students who are tutoring.

“I know when I tutor, I’m studying for myself as well,” Phelan said. “I consider it to be study time as well as tutor time.”

Phelan said one of the main trends with students looking for help is only a few people sign up during the first two to three weeks of school; instead, they wait until after their first midterm or until right before the final exam.

“I think there are definitely opportunities for tutoring,” Phelan said. “It’s out there if you need it.”


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