As an undergraduate at
Harvard, Evan Hepler-Smith earned $12 an hour to
tutor fellow undergraduates in physics and organic chemistry. But when he moved
"I've had days where I made over $1,000," Mr. Hepler-Smith said.
The author of "The Manhattan Family Guide to Private Schools," Victoria Goldman, says she thinks the cost of private tutoring is worth it.
"I have found in my vast research and personal experience that you get what you pay for," she said. Ms. Goldman said she has paid for the highest-end private tutors for her two children for college and law school preparation. Each got into their top-choice school.
The secret, she says, is the tutors that they
used. Ms. Goldman chose Advantage Testing tutors, where rates start at $195 for
a 50-minute session in
A junior at the
Ms. Rosner also
spent $2,000 on a private essay-writing coach, who was a Harvard graduate and a
playwright living in
Many of the
While companies such as Advantage Testing set the student up with one of their tutors, tutors who work independently rely on word of mouth or free postings on places like Craigslist.
"My Craigslist post was basically a litany of all my standardized test scores," Mr. Hepler-Smith said. As for his Harvard degree, "it was the be-all and end-all of getting clients."
Not all Ivy League-educated
"I really try to give families an
alternative to the $200-an-hour model," the company's founder, Lisa Speransky, said. A
"You don't need someone with a Ph.D. in math to work with your 15-year-old in algebra. You need someone who can connect, who can be a role model," Ms. Speransky said.
Her clients include both public and private school students. At private schools, admissions counselors often send her students from less-affluent families.
"There was some sense of, 'Why is it so inexpensive? What's wrong with it?'" she said.
Ms. Speransky, who has a full-time job in addition to running Ivy League Network Tutors, said that main reason she runs her business is to "allow people to afford tutoring, to help their kid do better in school."
But for many whose main source of income is
tutoring, charging the market rate makes sense. A former admissions officer at
"I stopped working in admissions to go to law school and basically, from the day that I quit, people were asking for advice," Ms. Epstein said. "I thought, this is ridiculous, I shouldn't be giving this away for free."
Ms. Epstein now charges $375 for a one- to two-hour session to help high school students craft their college applications.
A senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, Sol Stern, said the prices parents are willing to pay for private tutors pale beside the $50,000 a year that college tuition bills can be.
Mr. Stern said he paid $150 an hour for a
private tutor for his son, who went to