As recounted by The Wall Street Journal, Erik Kimel founded Peer2Peer tutoring when he was just a high school senior, starting with a single newspaper ad. In a few years, his business had taken off with hundreds of tutors and thousands more applicants. According to Erik, the keys to the success and power of his tutoring business lie in his strong belief in the value of his service, his insistence on effective training of his student tutors, and total dedication to the brand. Clearly, that dedication has paid off. Last year, New York-based educational consulting powerhouse Aristotle Circle purchased Peer2Peer: lock, stock and barrel. Keeping much of the original team in place, Aristotle Circle has expanded this service with a dedicated support network and rapidly expanding regional reach.
The premise is simple: students teaching students. The organization vets tutor hopefuls carefully, insuring that only top students qualify as tutors, and then they train them. With regional directors in cities ranging up and down the east coast as well as in Chicago, Austin and Houston, the ever-growing Aristotle Peers – as the company is now named, parallel to Aristotle Pros – matches students to their peer tutors. Peer tutors gain experience teaching other students, building valuable career skills and earning money. For many students, this is a tremendous opportunity to share knowledge while developing business and interpersonal abilities that will serve them well in college and in the workplace as adults. The tutored students benefit from tutoring rates that are significantly lower than they'd pay for an adult tutor. And many feel that being taught one-to-one by a peer is a more effective way to learn. Students often relate better to teachers their own age who may have struggled with the same academic challenges not so long before and whose skills can be more readily shared. For students who work with tutors from their own schools, they may share experience with the same teachers or courses and be able to relate more closely to the course material.
With the success of the peer tutoring program, Aristotle Peers has added intriguing new services to the basic tutoring model. Peer+, a mentoring program, pairs students with tutors for academic support plus sport, hobbies or music lessons. SAT Jumpstart is a peer tutoring SAT prep program – standardized, but personalized through one-to-one instruction, and far more affordable than courses taught by adults.
Clearly, the peer-to-peer model has tremendous value. Propelled by a strong organization, it has truly taken off and should give inspiration to all students who seek to build their skills and advance academically – both tutors and tutees.