Our Industry is Broken

– Edison Prep vs. Big-Box Tutoring Shops–

What do big-box tutoring companies actually pay their instructors when you pay them $90-200+/hr?

Edison Prep’s two founders, Brian and Silvia, and their small team of highly experienced tutors are not the only great SAT/ACT tutors in Atlanta. There are 20 or 30 others. We’re all friends. We refer to one another when full because it’s the right thing to do. In Atlanta, the sixth biggest metro area in the country, how many SAT/ACT tutors with over 1,000 hours of experience are there? Probably a few dozen. How many have 5,000+ hours? Maybe a dozen. Edison Prep’s founders Brian and Silvia have a combined 66,000+ hours of experience and counting and our small team of about a dozen tutors has over 100,000 hours of experience!

Why haven’t we grown our company any larger than its current size (11-12 people)?

Quite simply, it’s hard to find people who are 1) good communicators, 2) can earn top scores, and 3) available to tutor! This is why quality SAT/ACT tutoring is one of the least scalable businesses on Earth if quality matters. The industry is broken.

We also want to be small enough that we know our team members well, so we can place students with tutors who will fit them the best. Our small SWAT team of teachers has tutors with various strengths and styles, and we’re able to successfully map out tutoring plans with the teacher who would best gel with the student!

“It can’t be that bad, can it? I’m sure these big-box companies pay their people well! They charge a ton! They charge far more than Edison Prep does!”

The publicly-available data at Glassdoor.com does not lie. The average tutor at big-name agencies only gets paid 9% to 18% of the money that you pay the agency, and for the privilege of fighting Atlanta traffic to boot! (Time for which they are also unpaid.) Ironically, for in-person tutoring, most of the experienced tutors in Atlanta cost the same as, or often less than, the college kids that big-box agencies hire!

Fun Fact: The four most prominent names in the tutoring industry are all owned by out-of-state hedge funds who are very disconnected from education and pedagogy.

At Edison Prep, we pay the mock test proctors who quietly proctor our practice tests over 50% more per hour than the actual tutors at the below big-box agencies get paid! And our tutors make 200-400+% as much as big-box tutors get paid, because we don’t believe we could retain professional, full-time, quality tutors for anything less, and most importantly, because it’s the right thing to do.

Let’s take a look at this wage data from Glassdoor.com:

Source: Data retrieved from Glassdoor.com, 10/25/22

What’s more, these same big-box agencies expect clients to purchase thousands of dollars in tutoring to get minimal test score increases.

For example, big-box chain ArborBridge’s score estimation / calculation tool expects clients to purchase 30 hours of private tutoring—about $6,750—for a 59% chance that a student would increase their ACT score by 6 points (from a 23 to 29).

In 14 years and 23,000 students, we’ve never had a family remotely spend close to that much for a student, and in a typical group class (not private tutoring), we’ll have 4+ people achieve that same feat for $749.

Meanwhile, our ACT students have an average increase of 4.4 points, and about 50% complete just the group course (18 hours of instruction for $749). About 40% purchase additional private tutoring hours to fine-tune their performance after the group course (“hybrid”), and about 10% do purely private tutoring.

About 40% of our students end up with a top 8% score. The difference is hiring and retaining high-quality instructors who help students increase their scores more quickly and at a lower out-of-pocket cost—provided that students complete their homework!

Edison Prep