End Homework Stress with Tutor.com

Tutor.com Logo“I hate this!  I’ll never finish this homework!  I give up!”

Sound familiar? If your child’s Algebra homework (or Chemistry or Calculus, or…) is keeping you up all night, you are not alone.  A recent survey found that almost 50% of parents can’t help their kids with homework because they don’t know the material.  That’s no surprise.  Many subjects are taught differently today and let’s face it most parents haven’t sat in a classroom looking at equations for 20 years.

Don’t stress.  Help is available and it can bring peace back to your house. Almost 30% of middle school and high school students use a tutor at some point to keep their grades up, build confidence and work on their study skills.  There are many tutoring options available to students from small group sessions at tutoring centers to tutors who come to your house and online tutoring that you can access anytime.

Tutor.com has completed 10 million tutoring and homework help sessions online over the last decade.  If you’re thinking about hiring a tutor, here are some tips to keep in mind:

Get Help Early:  Tutor.com surveyed 500 of their math tutors and found that the number one reason students are struggling is because they missed an earlier concept in class. Students fall behind, get frustrated and sometimes give up. Getting help earlier keeps students on track with their class. Often, just a few sessions with a tutor can get great results and keeps the cost down too.

Get Help on Your Schedule: Parents and students are busier than ever before. Work, sports, and other activities keep your child going all day long. Students walk in the door exhausted and the last thing they want is to sit down with a tutor for an hour.  Find a tutor who has flexible hours to meet the needs of your child and your family.  Online tutoring solves this problem by being available 24/7.

Pick the Right Tutor: Here’s what parents should look for in a tutor: passionate about teaching and connecting to your child; experienced in the subject your child needs help in; teaches your child the concepts they need so that they can do the next problem on their own.  Your child should have a good connection with the tutor and feel comfortable working with him/her.

Make Sure it Works: Parents and students often use tutoring to improve grades. If you work with a tutor in your home, make sure you build in time to review your child’s progress with the tutor. Online tutoring captures every tutoring session and emails it to your inbox so you can review your child’s work.

Time to Go Online:  When your child is melting down about algebra homework at 9:30 p.m. and you can’t help it feels awful!  Online tutoring is a great solution since it is available 24/7.  Your child can connect to an experienced tutor who can help teach the concept and the peace in your house.

Once you have selected a tutoring option that works best for your child and your family, check in with your child to see how they are feeling.  And take note of their behavior.  Does homework time seem less stressful?  Do they complain less about school and the subject they are getting help in?   Beyond grades and completed homework assignments, this lets you know that the help is working.  Need more information about tutoring and homework help?  Go to www.tutor.com.

Mandy Ginsberg is the CEO of Tutor.com which helps 6,000 students a night by connecting them to a great tutor online.  She is also the proud mom of two daughters; her 15 year old uses Tutor.com for Algebra II and Chemistry.

This post was provided by Mandy Ginsberg, CEO of Tutor.com, who was a guest on College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on February 15th, 2014.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Photo Credit: EdTechTimes

Combating the Rising Expense of College Text Books with a No Cost, Efficient Search Engine

gremlin_small-0c196408ac221e18280e5eec9adb6144College is really expensive, and the prices keep going up. As if the pain isn’t bad enough, textbook prices are out of control.  In a USA Today article, textbooks prices have risen over 82% since 2002, and the trend is not slowing down. What are students and parents to do? There are several options available; renting, buying used, and if available students can buy eBook’s. The real issue here is how do students know they are getting the best deal? This is where Gremlinbooks.com comes to save the day. Gremlin searches sources on the web, and provides a clean and easy to read summary for each book searched. The service is free and only takes a few seconds to compare several options.

How We Can Help

We have done all the difficult and time-consuming work for each and every user that visits our site. All the user has to do is enter a book title, author’s name, keyword, or the book’s ISBN (International Standard Book Number) and the search results are displayed in seconds. New verses Used, Rent verses Buy, it is all there for the user to see. We have seen users save over $130 on a single book based on the campus bookstore prices. While it may not be a massive windfall, saving $100-300 on books per semester should make students and parents very happy, but the good news doesn’t stop there. Once the student is finished with the book that he/she has purchased, we can help them sell it back to make back some of what they spent. We strive to make our site as easy and clean as possible. We do not have any advertising links on our site, and it has a very “vanilla” look and feel. We are spending our money and effort on providing the best, most comprehensive search results possible, not on building a flashy website.

What We Believe

College is becoming more and more a necessity to compete nationally and globally. The National Center for Education Statistics states that there are 21.8 million collegiate students and that number is expected to grow to 24 million by 2021. As the numbers rise, so will the tuition. We want to help wherever we can. As a proud holder of an MBA, I have seen first hand how frustrating it can be to buy a Cost Management book for $197 and a few months later have the campus bookstore offer me $3 to sell it back. Several years later, I still own that book. Our goal is to empower students by providing the data and letting them make the best choice for their needs. We want the student to think beyond the campus bookstore, and to see what we can provide, for free!!

Our Story

Gremlinbooks.com is a simple story. My wife was attending nursing school to obtain her second degree. One semester her textbooks cost over $1,000, if we went the campus bookstore route. Fed up, I turned to the web to see what I could find. Several hours later, low and behold, a $400 savings. Although we had saved a decent sum of money, the time it took was unacceptable. It seemed this was a wide spread struggle and a great opportunity to help students save on their textbooks. So 4 years later, the site is up and running, saving students money on textbooks. We are expanding our source list every semester and want to stay true to our slogan “Textbooks are expensive, we can help”.

Links:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/08/20/students-say-no-to-costly-textbooks/2664741/

http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=372

This post was provided by Rob Parrish and Craig Nowotny, co-founders of Gremlin Books, who was a guest on College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on January 11th, 2014.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Photo Credit: Gremlin Books

On a Budget? 10 Ways to Save Money at College

professorsMost every student wants to get the most bang for the buck at college.  And who can blame them?  With the price of college running at more than double the rate of inflation, every dollar counts.  And it’s not just the standing costs – tuition and fees, and room and board – it’s the recurring day-to-day costs that can leave a hole in your pocket.  No worries.   You’ll save real money if you follow our top 10 tips: 

1.  Think about flying the coop.  Many students who start college living in the dorms wind up finishing college living in the dorms.  But in many cases, dorms are overpriced and tether you to a meal plan that also could be overpriced.  By your second, and surely third year you should be considering other living arrangements:  apartments, fraternities and sororities, special interest housing arrangements, and other locally-available alternatives.  Not only can you save a bundle, you can customize your living arrangement to the way you want it.

2.  Tame the costs of books.  With the average student spending over $600 a semester on textbooks, this is a natural place to trim your expenses.  Many colleges have made it easy, too.  Professors are required to post reading lists months in advance of the start of classes, and alternative buying arrangements are often available on the college-bookstore- or course webpage.  Things to consider: do you want new or used, do you want print or e-, do you need the current edition or will the previous one do just fine, do you want to own the book or would a semester-long rental be adequate?   Figure out what’s best for each course you’re taking and you can save hundreds of dollars a year.

5-Star Tip:  For all book modalities (print, e-, and rentals), check out the aggregators (sometimes called meta-sites):  these are websites that compare the prices of many other bookselling websites.  Two we especially like are www.CheapestTextbooks.com and www.BigWords.com   (others include www.BestPriceBooks.com, www.CampusBooks.com, www.textbooks.com, and, for rentals, www.chegg.com and www.textbookrentals.com).

3.  Buy academic-priced software.   If you’re wedded to Microsoft Office (which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and a number of other programs), you’ll be pleased to learn that Microsoft offers a special discount for college students:  4 years of “cloud-based” Office for about $20 a year (click here, you need your campus e-mail address to order).   For those watching their pennies, Apache’s OpenOffice and the open source LibreOffice, are downloadable for 100% free (can’t beat that).  If you’re expecting to do heavy graphics, search for Adobe Creative Suite at a student price (search the web or check your campus computer store – they’re likely to know about this and other student-priced software).

4.  Get a cheaper device.  Many students starting college lunge at the most expensive devices possible:  a fancy, full-sized tablet or one of the new, and expensive, Ultrabook notebooks.   In many cases, though, you can make do with much less:  a mini tablet, a less powerful (and less expensive) notebook, or sometimes a mere e-reader.  One  notebook we especially like (compact, good processor, long battery life) is the Asus Vivo Book X202E (or S200E)–make sure you get the 3rd generation Intel chip;  in tablets, the Microsoft Surface 10.6″ 32GB is an especially good deal right now.

5.  Get some apps.  If you’re one of the 100-million or so people worldwide who own an iPhone, you’ll want to get some apps especially tailored to college (most of them will set you back a buck or two or three).  Some we like include:
iStudiezPro (organizing your schedule)
PocketList (to-do lists)
EverNote (notetaking)
Wikipanion (Wikipedia)
MentalCase and FlashCard++ (flashcards)
Chegg (study help)
Graphing Calculator (just like the handheld model, and includes screenshots)
The Chemical Touch (periodic table)
Instapaper (stores web pages)
iTranslator (translations for your language courses)
Dictionary.com (lots of words you don’t know)
BlackboardLearn (hooks up with your school’s course management and grade reporting system)
My GPACalculator (includes “what if” scenarios so you can fantasize about getting an A in that killer statistics course).

6.  Take advantage of e-services.   Try Amazon and eBay for just about any merchandise (Amazon often offers special shipping discounts for students);  Priceline, Hotwire, and Fly.com for airline tickets;  Netflix for movies;  and Pandora for music. 

Extra Pointer: skip a trip.  Travel, especially airline travel, can be very expensive, especially if you want to travel at peak times.  If you’re a little short on cash – and don’t have terribly magnanimous parents – consider foregoing the trip home for Thanksgiving.  You’ll see your parents in just three weeks for Christmas, so save your $500 and tell your parents to freeze the pumpkin pie.

7.  Check your car insurance.  Especially if you live in a big, freeway-laden city, car insurance can be super-expensive.  Try to stay under your parent’s policy, if you’re of appropriate age.  If not, ask your insurance agent for “Student” or “Good Grades” Discount (that is, assuming you have good grades).   Also, if you’re only driving a few miles per day, make sure your policy is rating as “pleasure” driving;  your rate will be cheaper.

On the Web.  Be sure to check out web-based insurance companies, for example, 21st Century, Geico, and USAA (if you have a military background).  They’re likely to be cheaper than in-person agents.

8.  Use the facilities.  No, not those facilities.  We’re thinking about the recreational and academic services you paid for as part of your student fees:   Olympic-sized swimming pools, Apple-endowed computer labs – not to mention the free tutoring service, writing center, and math lab.  And, if you’re not feeling up to par, or college isn’t turning out to be quite as happy as you expected, be sure to check out the university health service or counseling center.  You’ve already paid for them, too.

9.  Travel on their dime.  Wanna see the world?  Consider the study abroad program.  Many colleges have special scholarships or stipends to enable students to do research abroad or to take courses at “sister” universities.  This can be a wonderful opportunity to improve your language skills, to do research in countries where the materials to be studied actually exist, and to take courses at colleges where they actually specialize in what you’re interested in.

10.  Drop early.  Many students procrastinate about everything, including dropping a course they know they’re doing bad in and will never finish.  At schools at which you’re paying by the course (or credit hour), you’ll get a much bigger refund if you drop in an early week of the semester.  So bail, and save.

If you liked the tips in this article, you’ll love the 837 tips in the new book, The Secrets of College Success: Over 800 Tips, Techniques, and Strategies Revealed.  Write professors Lynn F Jacobs and Jeremy S Hyman with questions or blog ideas at jeremy@professorsguide.com.  And follow them on Twitter @professorsguide

This article was provided by Jeremy S Hyman, co-author of The Secrets of College Success: Over 800 Tips, Techniques, and Strategies Revealed, 2nd Edition, who was a guest on College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on August 7th, 2013.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

© 2013 Professors’ Guide LLC.  All rights reserved. 

Textbooks Like They Should Be: Student-to-Student

BookCheetah is making budget-saving dreams a reality

The largest complaint from college students isn’t always aimed at skyrocketing tuition fees per se — universities have great methods of justifying those increases. What frustrates them is the amount of money they have to shell out in buying required textbooks: overpriced literature that is useful only for that semester and nets almost no cash back at the end. UGH.

BookCheetah is making budget-saving dreams a reality. Founded by well-known Colorado College Professor Daniel Johnson, the company aims to help these kids by facilitating textbook sales on campus directly between students. Continue reading