By Miguel Sanchez-Rutledge, For The Emerald
Two University of Oregon students are creating an app to make the process of hiring tutors easier. The app, Tutor Tree, is a free app that is being developed by two UO juniors, Adrian Martushev and Eli Ackerman. They are preparing for an early Spring term launch of their app that will work with various UO classes.
“It is essentially everything you want in a tutor,” Martushev said. “It’s like Uber, but for tutors. The whole concept is that we want to hire UO students. Basically, people that know this curriculum.”
Taking cues from Uber, the app makers are hoping to make the process of getting a tutor easier. They want to find people who are knowledgeable in specific topics but might not have the ability to teach others.
“We’re hoping to aggregate demand as well as supply,” Ackerman said. “We want to find those people that would tutor but can’t because they’re not going to be starting their own business or whatever. As much as we’re hoping to create ease of use, we’re trying to create a new way to get help.”
The app will integrate with tutors from the sciences; Chemistry, Physics and Biology. It will also include tutors who specialize in finance, economics and math. Scheduling, payment and contacting are all taken care of within the app so that it is as streamlined as possible.
“We are trying to integrate with the UO community and eventually get endorsed by the university,” Martushev said. “The app will notify you of homework that is coming up, all sessions will be on campus and it is supported by all major payments apps including Apple Pay, Venmo and Paypal.”
They have tutors already in place but are seeking out more for hire that specialize in the offered categories. The goal for the developers is to eventually have tutors for every class type that the university offers.
Tutors will get paid by the hour, but the pricing policy is still in development, they said.
Martushev is a math and computer science major in his junior year and is a tutor for the UO math department. Ackerman is an economics major and also in his junior year. They entered TutorTree into the Quack Hatch Business Idea Competition and were finalists that eventually went on to place third for their app.
Meghan Loftus, a Human Physiology major, is in her Senior year at UO. She has been a student tutor with the Teaching and Learning Center for three years and is excited about the app, but she has her reservations.
“I have been tutoring for TLC [Teaching and Learning Center] for three years and it can be hit or miss whether I get students or not,” Loftus said. “I think the app will help me not have every student come to me for biology help because I am the only student biology tutor for 212.”
Loftus described how the pool of students needing help can be inconsistent, but that having tutors available is important for students who might need extra help. Some terms she may not have any students reach out to her for help. Other terms she might be overwhelmed with students.
“Being able to have one-on-one tutoring is nice. If I don’t get emails I won’t get tutoring. It’s nice to have the consistency and confirmation of an app.”
She voiced concern however about how the app makers will verify tutors and how they will come across to other students as not being a scam.
“The reviews will speak for themselves,” Ackerman said. “I think credentials are important. We will be hiring accredited tutors, but learning is a collaborative effort and you can learn from your peers. Your friend that just got an ‘A’ in a course last term will know how to do well in that course.”
Prices will vary based on “competence” of the tutor and their knowledge of the course, as Martushev described it. The rates vary per hour with prices ranging from 15-35 dollars. There is a possibility of surcharge rates during peak hours such as finals and dead week. It is free to schedule times a week in advance and the app makers are aiming for an early spring term launch date. The app will be available on the App Store first, with an option for Android phones soon after.
Miguel Sanchez-Rutledge is a senior at the University of Oregon. You can find his website here.