Tutors and students interact through Facebook

Photo+by+Lindsay+Frumker

Photo by Lindsay Frumker

Caitlin Restelli

Social networks and tutors have collaborated to make tutoring more accessible for students.

Last summer, the university utilized Tutor Matching Service, a program accessed by Facebook as a resource for students in need of tutoring.

“The key is that we’re trying to make more options for students,” said Ethan Fieldman, TMS company owner.

TMS is an application on Facebook where students and tutors can interact online and set up times to meet in person. Tutors choose their hourly rate, and students pay online.

“Facebook is huge,” said Keri Hamberg, director for the Academic Success Center. “For a tutor to be matched with a student or a student to be matched with a tutor, that’s very high end.”

Anyone can sign up to be a tutor, but in order to be a certified university tutor students must work with the Academic Success Center for at least one semester.

“The training to be a tutor is very rigorous,” Hamberg said. “So, in order to be certified, we have to make sure that we are training the tutors in certain areas and spending so many hours in different places.”

The university pays $5 for students who use a certified tutor through the Academic Success Center. For example, if tutor’s hourly rate is $20, then the university pays $5 and the student pays the remaining balance.

“Kent State is really on top of things,” Fieldman said.

Hamberg said Kent State is the first university to subsidize the cost of certified tutors’ hourly rates. Some universities distribute $100 for students to use for tutoring and students pay for any additional costs.

“We’re just looking at per session, per hour,” said Eboni Pringle, executive director for Student Learning and Success. “We provide you with that discount so that hopefully in the long run you’re going to have a bigger impact financially than if you just get $100.”

Since the service launched at Kent State last summer, more than 300 students showed interest in becoming a tutor, but Pringle said 101 tutors are currently registered. Recently, the university mailed letters to students on the dean’s list to see if they would be interested in tutoring.

“We cannot quite screen (the tutors), which is why they aren’t certified,” Hamberg said. “But at least by looking at the dean’s list we can tell that they have the knowledge to do it.”

The website also has a five-star rating system where students can rate the experience with each individual tutor.

“It’s a good quality-control element,” Hamberg said.

Students interested in tutoring, but not becoming a certified tutor, are still welcome to be a part of the website.

Ashley Field, sophomore justice studies major, is a tutor through TMS. She received a letter from Kent State during winter break, conducted a phone orientation and now tutors for the service.

“This is just something if someone needed me and our schedules worked out, I could make an extra $10 an hour,” Field said. “It just seemed like the simplest, time efficient way to make a few extra dollars on the side.”

Field said she tutors courses within her major because there are not a lot of opportunities for justice studies tutoring at Kent State.

Fieldman said the Academic Success Center covers many subjects to be tutored, but they financially cannot tutor every subject on campus, which is where TMS comes in.

“We’re kind of the extension of (Academic Success Center),” Fieldman said.

Jill Glennon, sophomore geology major, struggled to find a chemistry tutor earlier this semester. Glennon said she found TMS through a link on the Academic Success Center’s website and wrote on the TMS Facebook group’s wall that she needed help.

She said received some responses and hopes to use them along with her chemistry peer mentor.

“It’s like my fall back plan,” Glennon said. If her peer mentor is not beneficial for her within the hour of tutoring, she can get in touch with the listed chemistry tutors.

“Different people explain things differently, and that definitely helps, because you see it from every angle,” Glennon said.

TMS launched in 2009 and so far has about 10 universities utilizing the application.

Contact Caitlin Restelli at [email protected].