Bulldog Tutors Pairs Students With Yale Whiz Kids
There are plenty of excellent, intelligent students out there, but what makes a good student into a great tutor? Check out this article from Connecticut Magazine on our vetting, training, and pairing of top-notch tutors with hard-working students.
While Mike Newcomer was studying for his doctorate in theoretical biophysics at Yale, he worked as a tutor for extra cash.
“I tutored for a bunch of different firms, mostly in Fairfield County,” he says. “Every time I would apply to tutor, I would essentially instantly get a call and they would set me up with a student right away, without really vetting me all that much.”
Newcomer understood this from a supply-and-demand perspective: qualified tutors were in high demand and tutoring agencies were eager to hire those with impressive résumés. But he says it wasn’t “ideal in terms of onboarding a new tutor and having someone be a part of the team and interacting with students.”
Newcomer’s credentials were impressive; prior to attending Yale he had been valedictorian at Georgetown College, and during his time at Yale he had a fellowship at Los Alamos National Laboratory. After finishing his studies at Yale, he decided to open his own tutoring company designed to recruit tutors with elite educational backgrounds who were also gifted teachers.
“I wanted to take away the problem that some of the companies that I had worked for had in Fairfield County,” he says. “I would put a tutoring center located really near a place — in this case, Yale — with a tremendous amount of potential tutors for us, at least in terms of qualifications. Now we have thousands upon thousands of folks in New Haven who can potentially be tutors for us. Because we have supply [we can] whittle that down to the people who are right, who can interact with students, who can actually teach, etc.”
Today Newcomer’s business, Bulldog Tutors, draws on the Yale talent pool with a location near Yale’s campus in New Haven and a satellite location in Guilford, with a new location also planned for Fairfield. While not every tutor studied at Yale, they have all scored in the 99th percentile for the tests they teach, and many Bulldog tutors boast perfect 1600 SAT scores. But since excelling in a subject doesn’t necessarily mean someone will teach it well, each high-achieving potential tutor is also vetted for their skills with students.
After an initial interview, potential tutors are asked “to teach one of us something that we don’t know,” Newcomer says.
When applicants do well teaching a Bulldog staff member, they will spend time with an experienced tutor and learn from them. After that, they’ll be given one student to start and have frequent sit-ins on their tutoring sessions. “If they do well in that process we move them to full tutor, where they can take on the number of students that makes sense for them.”
This is all in addition to standard background checks. The rigorous process seems to pay dividends. According to the company, students who work with Bulldog Tutors improve their scores by an average of 250 points on the SAT and see significant score improvement on standardized tests.
Tutoring is available for college- and graduate-level tests. Areas of study include the SAT, ACT, LSAT, GMAT and MCAT, as well as many other placement tests. Skype sessions are also available.
Newcomer says they work with students at various levels. Some students are hoping to attend a top-tier college and are looking to improve their SAT score from a 1500 to a 1590, while others want to get a score high enough to attend a mid-level school.
Bulldog does the SAT tutoring for Wilbur Cross and Hillhouse high schools and, through its nonprofit arm, Bulldog Tutors also works with students at other New Haven schools.
Ultimately, Newcomer wants to expand the tutoring center beyond Connecticut where he would duplicate the model of drawing talented tutors from an elite nearby college.
As to what makes a good tutor, Newcomer says it often comes down to empathy. “One of the things that people struggle with when they’re teaching something they’re familiar with is how to go back to the time that they weren’t very familiar with that and what they knew at that point,” he says. He adds, the trick is “to think about it from the perspective of the student as opposed to what you know. To frame the question there and tie it into other things that that student may or may not know, so you can help them get the concepts.”
Link to the original article can be found here: http://www.connecticutmag.com/the-connecticut-story/bulldog-tutors-pairs-students-with-yale-whiz-kids/article_6bf648f0-3ce3-11e8-97d8-afda0d094f74.html