My short bio: Hi reddit,

My last AMA on /r/entrepreneur got pretty popular, so I figured I'd do one here too!

I'm Shay Skobeleva, 25 years old, and I work as a private tutor for the children of the lawyers, doctors, and executives of NYC.

I went to university for genetics, but became disillusioned with the field after going to medical school. I decided to leave medical school and start a private tutoring company, and I couldn't be happier! I get to work with kids of all ages, and use science experiments to teach them more interesting math and science concepts than they're getting in school.

I also teach pretty much every other subject, and do test prep. Surprisingly, there's a huge demand in the fall for prep for the Gifted and Talented Kindergarten Entry exam here in NYC. That boils down to training 4-year olds to take an 80 question test!

I usually work between 10-15 hours/week, and spend my spare writing books, doing art projects, and inventing things.

My latest e-book is a sarcastic textbook on personal hygiene that I wrote after having some exceptionally smelly hall-mates in college. It makes a great gag gift for siblings.

EDIT: Over 1,000 downloads! Thanks guys, and I hope you guys enjoy it!

I also wrote a more serious premed guide, which you can see here.

Invention wise, I recently used my experience working on mosquito research at Caltech to invent this low-cost, DIY, Portable Mosquito Netting design to try and help stop the spread of Zika Virus.

EDIT: A lot of people are asking about how I feel about the disparity between the ability of my clients to afford this prep and the ability of the less wealthy. This is something that I actively aim to combat, by releasing free test prep resources on my website. This past year, I wrote a free 50-question practice test for the Gifted and Talented Exam, which is unheard of in the industry. Additionally, I wrote downloadable practice tests for around 1/3 of the cost of the competition, as well as a free book on how to effectively study with your kids at home. Those are available here. I'm actively writing more materials and producing videos to give away for free or low cost, more will come out in the next months!

So, Ask Me Anything!

My Proof:


Previous AMA

Comments: 2430 • Responses: 57  • Date: 

coryrenton2232 karma

Is there a logic behind $140/hr figure or is it fairly arbitrary? (Do you think you could charge much more without significant drop-off in clientele)?

solinaceae2922 karma

I chose that figure based on undercutting with other tutoring companies charge. Most charge upwards of $180, I know some that charge $240.

I could probably raise it significantly if I targeted new students in the wealthiest neighborhoods, but I wouldn't want to double the rates for my clients I've had for the past years. I love working with my current kids, they basically feel like siblings at this point.

Another factor is that I aim for year-round clients. I work with my kids for test prep, education enrichment, and for a fun summer school. But for clients who are only doing a few weeks of test prep before their SAT/ISEE/SHSAT, etc. I can charge a higher rate since it's more temporary. But it would be quite a significant amount for somebody to pay $240/hr all year!

coryrenton438 karma

Have you thought of doing a sliding scale for charging? I imagine for some clients $1000/hr is no more a burden than $100/hr.

solinaceae1614 karma

It wouldn't be "fair" really to the clients on the high end. I try to look at it as what I charge for my time, not what they can afford for my time.

allwordsaremadeup909 karma

An entry exam toddlers have to drill for? Doesn't that strike you as straight up dystopian?

solinaceae1028 karma

Absolutely, it's terrible. I hated having my abilities reduced to a set of numbers as a student, and I hate it now as a tutor. It's dehumanizing.

One of the things I aim to do is make that test prep more accessible and affordable for people. Most test prep companies keep their materials under lock and key, and charge something like $100 for a crappy book with a day's worth of exercises. So I released a free test, and a bunch of inexpensive downloadable practice tests, along with a free book on at-home prep methods. Free videos are coming this fall, too!

Hopefully with more companies like Khan Academy offering free prep, and more ethical tutoring companies, standardized tests can be less of an issue for everybody.

larswo384 karma

Mentioning Khan Academy gives a lot of respect from a university student. They are praised by so many I know in the engineering field.

solinaceae224 karma

Thanks! I have enormous respect for what they do, and I'd love to make a similar website to supplement their materials one day.

legalfinthrowaway676 karma

My daughter is taking the SAT in the fall, and she's really nervous. Do you have any tips for SAT test prep?

solinaceae1436 karma

I can sympathize, I hated taking the SAT too.

The first thing you want to look at is if the ACT is a better fit. The ACT is more "common sense" based, and if she has scientific aptitude, it does also have a science section.

Regardless of which test she takes, it's important to break things up into manageable chunks. I like to split the sections up by question type. So for math, split the problems into Geometry, Quadratics, Simple Algebra, Number Theory, Trig, etc. Khan Academy has 8 college board approved practice tests and keys online, they're really great for this.

This part's important: Take a FULL LENGTH, TIMED practice test, and analyze which question types she gets wrong. There is almost always a pattern. For example, on reading, she might miss the "why do you think the author said _____" questions, but not the content questions. For math, she might miss the quadratics, but be excellent with trig.

Focus on the areas of need without neglecting the other sections. Once she's mastered a specific area of need, don't drop it completely. Just work in a few review problems into her future practice. So once she's confident doing geometry, move onto a Trig focus (but work in a few geometry practice questions with each practice session, along with the other questions she's already proficient in).

For the other sections, do the same thing. If she's always missing comma usage in Grammar, focus on those questions while still "maintaining" proficiency in the other questions.

For each practice session, try to do at least one set of each test section to keep it all fresh. Don't have overwhelming amounts of practice, I'd say 3x/week works well for an average kid.

Good luck!

happyclam420172 karma

My toddler is taking the SAT next month, any tips?

frothyloins246 karma

Your kid didn't take the SAT in the womb? Eeek! Bad parenting!

solinaceae398 karma

These days we use the ultrasound to transmit test questions in Morse Code. If you don't do that, you're just behind, dude.

doorbellguy171 karma

I'm still in my father's balls. Is it too late to start prep?

solinaceae184 karma

Not at all, just have him tap test material to you in morse code and you should be all set.

conreteyogi24 karma

This is really great advice!

solinaceae48 karma

Thanks! It's essentially what my AP Bio teacher did for my high school class, and it wasn't stressful to prepare at all. We were used to seeing the question style in small doses throughout the year as we completed each unit, so it wasn't hard to just do more problems when the test came.

jayheadspace585 karma

How did you get started in terms of marketing? I imagine once you get going that word of mouth referrals take care of new clients but how were you able to break into what I'm assuming is a very competitive field?

solinaceae640 karma

I started out by getting experience in the market as a contractor for other tutoring companies. People told their friends about me, and I started getting organic leads that way. Nowadays it's almost all word-of-mouth referrals, and I only need around 5 clients at a time to keep my schedule full.

Sometimes, when I release a new product like my GT practice books, I will put up flyers around the city to generate interest. For that particular product, most other companies charge 2-3x what I do, so I wanted to have a more obvious form of advertising.

jayheadspace28 karma

Awesome answer, thanks!

solinaceae36 karma

No problem!

hbdgas361 karma

How do you feel about a higher proportion of rich kids being identified as "gifted" only because their parents can buy test prep?

solinaceae256 karma

It's terrible. One of the things I aim to do is make that test prep more accessible and affordable for all people. Most test prep companies keep their materials under lock and key, and charge something like $100 for a crappy book with a day's worth of exercises. So I released a free test, and a bunch of inexpensive downloadable practice tests, along with a free book on at-home prep methods on my website. Free videos are coming this fall, too!

Hopefully with more companies like Khan Academy offering free prep, and more ethical tutoring companies, standardized tests can be less of an issue for everybody.

roswellthatendswell100 karma

It's good that you've thought about the unfairness in the academic world. However, just so you know, many poor families don't have computers, let alone printers, at home, and have rather poor computer literacy, so offering materials online is more or less useless. The parents will not know to look for the materials, and often not be able to work with the children on the books, either because they are too busy or they don't have a suitable academic background to make it through the books. At the very least, if you are serious about democratizing your materials, I encourage you to reach out to schools in underperforming areas so the teachers and admins can spread the word!

solinaceae65 karma

That's a good idea, I'll do that!

SaratogaWedding288 karma

Have you ever worked with celebrity kids? If so, how was it?

solinaceae437 karma

Yes and no. I haven't worked with them as a private tutor, but I my first teaching work as a TA at my old high school. A few celebrity kids went there, including Terry Crews's daughter (who was in the year above me) and Zack Snyder's kids. One of Zack Snyder's daughters was a student in the Bio class I TA'd. She was a sweetie :)

InadequateUsername111 karma

was this public school? I wouldn't have expected rich people to enroll their kids in public school.

solinaceae219 karma

It was a private school in Pasadena.

Here in NYC, lots of wealthy parents use the Gifted Public Schools though.

Fumblerful-11 karma

Did you go to a school like Flintirdge or Westridge?

solinaceae18 karma

University of Rochester for College. I didn't go to Flintridge for HS, but we did have football games against them sometimes.

mtdna_array148 karma

Any crazy stories, being in and out of people's houses?

solinaceae486 karma

In my current work, I carefully choose the 5 or so families I work with to be sane haha. But when I worked for other companies (usually a few hundred different kids every month) I saw some shit. What stands out most was a little 4-year old who had some trouble focusing on his test prep for the Gifted and Talented Exam.

He didn't have terrible focus, just what you'd expect from a kid who is used to playing all day and now has to sit through an hour of drilling questions.

His mom got into a screaming match with him about his poor focus, was threatening to call his dad to come home from work and punish him, etc. It was really sad. Some kids just aren't ready to sit through that many questions at once. But if he has any hope of focusing, screaming at him isn't the way to get him to do it. You gotta make it a positive experience, reward what little focus he does have, etc.

Pterodactylgoat310 karma

Man, if you want to give your kid test anxiety, that's definitely one way to do it. Poor thing.

solinaceae265 karma

It was horrible to watch. I was getting anxiety just from hearing it.

starxidiamou130 karma

I teach chess to the same market. Not even 30 minutes into the first lesson I had with this one kid who I just met (at his modern museum-looking apartment on Park), he replies to my advice "I don't care if my King isn't safe... I don't care if he dies... I don't care if I die." Thankfully his mom heard and gave him a talking to in a separate room. The kid was miserable the whole time; it was only toward the end when we started playing on his iPad against other people, whooping them one by one, that I noticed a huge grin on his face when he had a simple checkmate in 2 and was going to let his time wind down a couple minutes until he only had a few seconds left to make his moves... and then asked his mom if we could extend the lesson another hour...

solinaceae93 karma

Wow, I had no idea chess tutoring was a market too! It's great when they finally "get it" and start enjoying it, isn't it?

lost_in_life_34146 karma

I have two kids and none of them took the G&T because I'm zoned in one of the best elementary schools in NYC and didn't see a need. what percentage of your kids make it?

solinaceae366 karma

Pretty much all of my kids end up placing in a GT program. One of the things that I feel is broken about the system is that my work has proven to me that with enough prep, nearly everybody can get the scores. It's less about innate intelligence than it is about learning to focus and learning the rules for each puzzle.

That said, I've been pretty disappointed in what the programs end up looking like once you're "in." One of my students, an absolutely brilliant second grader, recently had a homework problem along the lines of "Bob read 5 books, Carol read 6 books, Susan read 3 books (based on a picture graph). If Jose read 4 books, how many students read fewer books that Jose? Explain how you know."

This is a kid who already understands fractions and multiplication. Facepalm.

lost_in_life_3498 karma


i know a kid who was in G&T but didn't get into a really good school for middle school. his mom tried to hard to help with tutors and got the kid reliant on a tutor for everything where he couldn't do a lot of the work himself. he's smart, but a little lazy because of his tutor doing too much work for him

solinaceae132 karma

Yeah, that's just bad tutoring. A good tutor empowers the kid to find the answers on their own, and once that becomes easy, will challenge them to think and work above grade level.

flamingtoastjpn23 karma

A good tutor empowers the kid to find the answers on their own

Out of curiosity, what do you do when you can't do this?

I used to be sort of the opposite of you, I tutored kids but they were the "not the sharpest tool in the shed" types that came from low income immigrant families and were failing grade school. Way behind, zero work ethic, and put out the minimum effort possible when I tried to help them.

I tutored two of them and couldn't get through to either of them.

solinaceae42 karma

My mom taught in inner city LA for a long time, so I understand your struggle. I'm fortunate that all my kids right now love learning, and I help foster that. I used to have a student that didn't enjoy learning so much, and getting her to start to be interested in books was a year-long challenge. For that, I read out loud to her from books for hours every week, asking questions and discussing the material periodically. Finally, she started begging for the next chapter, and applying the info she had learned to her other subjects. For a kid to love learning and want to succeed, it helps so much if the parents are on board with taking them to museums, discussing the world with them, etc.

munbulan138 karma

What is the most popular home science experiment that most of the kids like; yet are simple to learn and explain?

solinaceae305 karma

I've found that almost any science high school level science experiment can be simplified to an elementary schooler. People have this preconceived notion that some stuff is too complex for kids, but that really isn't the case.

Here are some examples of stuff I've done in the past few months with my kids in grades 1-5.

Endothermic and Exothermic reactions: Brief talk/review on how molecules and atoms interact with each other, but this involves energy changes. Heat is energy. Some reactions absorb heat (called endothermic), and some reactions release heat (exothermic). Discuss the etymology of the words.

Prepare two reactions in glasses. Use baking soda+vinegar for one, Hydrogen peroxide+yeast_soap for the other. Both reactions produce a volcano, kids love it. You can add red dye too. Have kids guess which one is endothermic and exothermic (they try to remember the different vocab terms here, or refer to a sheet where they wrote it down).

Discuss the use of endothermic and exothermic reactions in the real world. Challenge them to think of where something getting cold/hot is useful. Most kids will bring up medical uses at this point, and you can discuss how hospitals have chemical hot and cold packs to help people soothe their injuries. You should also discuss the gas production in both reactions, and talk about where that might be useful (filling a balloon, or harvesting a specific type of gas).

Depending on the age and interest of the kid, I'll look at the products of the reaction to prove that things "changed." Specifically, for the baking soda and vinegar, there isn't any vinegar left once you add enough baking soda. They can taste it to prove it to themselves.

Other recent experiments include: using google cardboard and stereoscopes to talk about our brain's perception of 3D, and then brought over the Vive to have a fun day. This week I talked about mass, volume, and density, and we built a density column in my graduated cylinder out of different fluids. We sometimes do less "involved" experiments, like illustrating probability by counting the responses in 100 shakes of a magic 8 ball, etc. One of these days I'll probably write a blog detailing what I do every week, haha.

orangesine67 karma

You make these all up? They're good.

solinaceae64 karma

Yeah, I collected a lot of science equipment over the years and use that. 4M also has great kits on amazon, where you can do cool things like build a hovercraft, make a lemon battery, etc. I use those too.

BabySinister125 karma

What use is a test to see if a student is gifted if students train for such a test?

solinaceae103 karma

At that point, it's really measuring how well the absorb the teaching (much like a test in school does). Which still measures something, but it's not as valuable as a metric and people seem to think.

sn0rlax_88 karma

Why did you become disillusioned with the field of genetics or the medical field?

solinaceae200 karma

I worked in mosquito research at Caltech, in the most awesome sounding lab I could find. The work we were doing was to genetically engineer mosquitoes to pass on the malaria/dengue/other disease resistance gene at a higher ratio than wild mosquitoes. This is the type of work that could save countless lives if it worked, get a nobel prize, etc. And yet, there was no guarantee that it would ever work, even if it looked great on paper. And in the end, it was decades of just pipetting the same reaction with a new variation over and over again.

I have enormous respect for those called the field of research. But I was going stir crazy just sitting in the lab. What I thought would be an exciting journey of using your wits to solve a new problem ended up being like 2% of the process. The rest was just getting the reaction to work.

However, my experience in that lab did inspire me on one of my latest projects, which is a portable mosquito netting design. I wanted people to have physical protection in addition to bug spray, so I developed a DIY tutorial for making an adjustable net that fits over an umbrella. That tutorial is at

For medical school, I realized that while I loved learning the material, I just couldn't handle the process of human dissection. I know a lot of people donate their bodies to science, and want to help medical students learn. But I couldn't emotionally handle peeling somebody's face off, or sawing their genitals in half. The school handled it...poorly to say the least. They told me I could skip the labs if I kept my grades up, and I did. But then it ended up becoming a political thing about the curriculum value of an expensive anatomy lab, and they changed their mind after the first semester, essentially forcing me to repeat the year (and classes I had already passed) if I wanted to stay (while accumulating 8% interest on my loans, not to mention the apartment lease, etc.) So I left.

WebbieVanderquack45 karma

I find your comments really interesting to read. Once you've collected enough anecdotes, you could write a very readable memoir.

solinaceae31 karma

Thanks! I'll probably do that one day. If you like my writing, you should check out my books (listed in the main post.) The hygiene one is currently free!

catchup7778 karma

I am extremely jealous that I can not afford you for my children! You sound awesome and fun. Do you have any tips on finding good tutors for lower income families? How to spot a good tutor?

solinaceae55 karma

Hey thanks! There are great tutors at all price points: if I lived outside of NYC I wouldn't be able to charge what I do. Good tutors are people who click with your kids and explain things in a way they understand. They should be able to reduce stress, and help them see learning as fun. You can find tutors at colleges and high schools, a lot of students and teachers can definitely use the opportunity for some spare change.

TorchForge69 karma

Do you feel that training young students to devote large blocks of time in the pursuit of maximizing their score on a standardized exam is missing the point of applied intelligence entirely? Let's be real here: the world needs critical thinkers that can analyze empirical data and draw relevant conclusions in conjunction with "soft-skills" that are difficult to measure (i.e. leadership ability), not people that are skilled at taking a multiple choice exam. What are your thoughts on society's over-emphasis on high stakes testing?

solinaceae92 karma

Absolutely, standardized tests are totally evil. I really wish we lived in a world where they had little to no emphasis on standardized tests. And most of my work isn't really test prep, it's educational enrichment (which is a lot more fun for the kids and for me!) For my year-round clients, I anticipate which tests they'll be taking and just work in some occasional prep questions here and there. That way, it's not overwhelming, it doesn't take too much time, and it still gets them used to the wording and test style.

When I do have to do focused test prep, I try to make my prep as "fun" as it can possibly be, by teaching questions with respect to their applications to in other fields, using experiments where I can, and even using games to teach the logic concepts for the younger kids.

ClassicPervert64 karma

What do you think is the most effective way of teaching someone to teach themselves? Or is that just within them?

solinaceae105 karma

I do this by asking leading questions, and encouraging the research process. I don't pretend to know everything with my students, and I'm very open about when I need to look something up.

For example, I did a density column recently with my younger kids. We talked about what density is, and how denser things will sink opposed to less dense things. They got to hypothesize about whether molasses or water has a higher density, and then experiment to see if they were right. I asked them questions about where they think the alcohol would settle in the column. If they asked about a chemical I didn't have on hand, we looked it up together online, and discussed the results.

If you do all the talking and thinking, you teach people to be complacent. But kids are naturally curious, and it's easy to teach them to design their own experiments and do their own research.

Logaline47 karma

So 15 hours a week for 52 weeks boils down to about 109,000 a year.

That's not a ton for NYC. How's your life style?

solinaceae75 karma

My lifestyle is comfortable, which is also helped my my husband's income as a programmer. We have a 2 bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, in the cheapest building we could find. He commutes an hour each way, I commute half an hour each way. We usually take about a month of vacation a year, with the occasional weekend away with friends. We can afford what we need, don't have to worry about splurging on the occasional treat, like the HTC Vive (which I use for work too.)

FatherSpacetime44 karma

Just graduated from med school in NYC and I don't want to start residency. You hiring?

solinaceae27 karma

I'll let you know!

samsnet25 karma

How much of an advantage do you think private tutoring gives, would you want it for your own kids?

solinaceae34 karma

It gives a huge advantage. I got the occasional tutor in school myself for subjects where I needed help or didn't click with the teacher, and it made a world of difference. I'll definitely tutor my own kids, or if they don't want to hear it from me, I would 100% hire somebody if they needed it!

Bostonphoenix21 karma

Reading this makes me think about doing this.

How would you warn someone not to do this?

solinaceae17 karma

I wouldn't! It's great (as long as you're a good teacher and get along with kids), and I love my job!

Moonlightswim18 karma

I have 3 questions but Im about to get a slightly personal:

Im 20 and my son is almost 2. Needless to say my income is tight and I can't afford tutors and the like. However I want my son to have an enriched fun childhood.

What kind of projects can I work on to teach my son basic educational concepts. Do you have any resources for people whom want to try the whole do-it-yourself approach.

I teach swimming to kids of all ages. Do you have any ideas how I can enrich my lessons so my students can learn swimming and also other things too.

How do you handle kids who are miserable/don't want to listen, or have some kind of learning/attention disabuly?

solinaceae29 karma

Go to Amazon, and look up the kits by 4M. They're for ages slightly above 2 (more like 1st grade and up) but they're cheap and fun ways to demonstrate science concepts. I am also writing a blog for teaching reading to kids your son's age, it's not officially up yet but here's the first post. (Sorry if my website has the hug of death.)

You could expand swimming to teaching about the physics of water, air pressure, diving, aquatic life, etc. That could be a lot of fun for kids!

I mostly work with kids who enjoy learning, but for the students that don't I spend a lot of time teaching them how fun it is. A student I had once didn't like reading at all, it was boring. So I read out loud to her for hours a week, for a year. We discussed each chapter, she would illustrate the story as I read. After a year she loved books.

de5afinad018 karma

When will you decide to start a school?

solinaceae15 karma

Maybe one day haha.

RFlush17 karma

Hey nice AMA! I am kind of in the same boat as you as I currently private tutor kids of the upper middle class in HK. I charge a bit less than you, around $85-95 per hour for a 1:1 class. Most of my students are between ages 3.5-10.

My question for you is do you feel this is sustainable in the long run? Is there a reason why you choose to work 10-15 hours a week as opposed to working a few extra hours for a few extra hundreds of dollars?

I have been doing this for that past 5 years now and I am not sure if it's just me, or how it works being a private tutor, but I equate everything into hours working. For example if I want to buy something, I'll just think "oh it's ok, that's only 40 mins of work, no problem". It's actually quite a bad way of thinking but I can't stop it. Do you feel the same?

solinaceae18 karma

My hours are limited by the hours kids are in school. I usually only get one day off per week, and I can only fit in 1-2 students on a given weekday.

I totally get what you mean about thinking about spending in terms of hours worked. I then have to remind myself that it's hours worked before tax :P

juicedhunts13 karma

Did you ever find a hardcore sex chamber or hidden room?

solinaceae54 karma

Not while tutoring, I don't snoop around my client's houses, haha. I have found a hidden sex chamber somewhere else though, which was at a party in the Hamptons. My friend got tickets to a party at Sir Ivan's Castle, and he had a sex dungeon with a bunch of giant stuffed rabbits in chains. No, we didn't use it haha.

solinaceae11 karma

I have been working on a number of side projects to help expand my methods to other kids. This includes articles and videos for parents to learn my techniques. I have found personally that learning is best with kids if they have a partner in it, with friends, parents, or teachers. But there is also a place for intuitive learning apps as a supplement!

Bullyoncube9 karma

How many billable hours do you do in a week, summer and winter? How do you work around school hours/weekends?

solinaceae24 karma

I basically don't start work till 3PM on most weekdays, and hours are definitely less in the summer. I spend my mornings writing and working on other projects! One of the toughest things about this industry is that for my kids are on vacation, I don't get paid. If I'm sick, I don't get paid. So I have to budget for that all year.

RobertoRMX7 karma

What were your goals before deciding to start your tutoring company?

solinaceae14 karma

I wanted to do either a PhD in Genetics or Botany or go to Medical School. A PhD I worked with at Caltech convinced me to go to med school, but I hated it and left after the first year. I always tutored on the side though, and loved it. So this was a natural direction to go in.

NotQuiteNiles7 karma

even though you find standardised tests totally evil, (which I agree with,) do you still devote most or all of your focus with the kids to test prep? or do you spend time teaching them how to teach themselves or work on critical thinking etc which may not be 100% relevant to their upcoming exam(s)?

solinaceae10 karma

I spend very little time doing pure prep, most if not all of the time on an average day is science experiments and critical thinking!

danhakimi6 karma

Shit, speaking as a lawyer of NYC, $140/hour sounds amazing.

You train "4-year olds to take an 80 question test!" -- does that mean you teach them the subject matter on the test, you teach them the skills they need to sit down and answer 80 questions in general, you teach them specific skills used for the test, or some combination of these things? Would you prefer to focus more on one than the others?

solinaceae3 karma

A combination. I teach the skills via games, and the focus via practice questions. I wish the test didn't exist at all, so I could focus on skills and learning only :)

Fauxfroyo4 karma

Full disclaimer: I'm not an adorable child pupil.

I never learned how to study as a kid, because I didn't really need to until it was too late. I kinda coasted with As and Bs until my junior year of high school when math became pretty much impossible for me. Now at 25 I'm back in school, and I still have no study skills. How do I learn to study effectively?


solinaceae6 karma

What helped me was organization and schedule. Devote a certain time every day to study, even if it's not "productive." I. That time, figure out the method that helps you learn. Maybe reading the textbook, making flashcards, copying summaries of the material, or even talking about it with your classmates. Then, do it every day, in a location you can focus in.

For me, I would copy textbook summaries in Cornell style notes in my room in the evening. During the day, I would go to the library with a whiteboard and copy diagrams until they are memorized or explain them to friends.

Hope that helps!

nate12124 karma

How does it feel knowing you are extending and inflating the privilege that rich kids have over their working-class peers? Are you paid enough to not think about that?

solinaceae5 karma

One of the things I aim to do is make that test prep more accessible and affordable for people. Most test prep companies keep their materials under lock and key, and charge something like $100 for a crappy book with a day's worth of exercises. So I released a free test, and a bunch of inexpensive downloadable practice tests, along with a free book on at-home prep methods. Free videos are coming this fall, too!

Hopefully with more companies like Khan Academy offering free prep, and more ethical tutoring companies, standardized tests can be less of an issue for everybody.

TheCrabRabbit2 karma

Isn't training for gifted and talented kind of counter-intuitive?

Isn't the purpose to pick out kids who exhibit their own natural strengths, not what they've been trained?

solinaceae2 karma

Yeah, it's not really a fair way of evaluating kids. But the thing is, you'll see that with any test of knowledge. The kid who hasn't directly been trained for a history test, but who's parents take him to museums on the weekend, will excel in history. The kid who does puzzles with mom and dad will do better on a standardized logic test than the kid who goes to the park with mom and dad. And the kid who goes to the park will socialize better than the kid who stays inside and only does puzzles. Every decision you make with your kids impacts their future academic strengths and weaknesses. I don't think it's a genetic strength that made me a good scientist and a good teacher: it's the fact that my parents had science majors/were teachers, did experiments with me for fun, and explained things in a way that made sense. So I learned the same strengths they had.

zjbird2 karma

Why do you tell us your income? Seems tacky!

solinaceae3 karma

Mostly to educate people about the kinds of jobs unexpected jobs that people can have, while still making a living. I've gotten a lot of feedback from teachers who had no idea they could supplement their meager teacher's salaries this way, and I love encouraging people to go out and start their own businesses!

FruitsAndCorn2 karma

How did you land your first client? What credentials did they ask for?

solinaceae3 karma

I developed my current clientele through word of mouth, from people who had seen me working with other companies. Surprisingly, nobody has asked me to verify my degree or experience, it seems that their friends' recommendations are enough for people.

tdog34561 karma

Something I really struggle with when tutoring is when the kids get into arguments with their parents while I'm there.

I tutor kids currently that struggle to focus during our session, so I have to spend time just relaxing instead of spending the full time tutoring. The parents get really frustrated and yell at their children (they do understand it isn't on me), and I have no idea what to do. I never want to step into an argument but I always feel like they could be avoided with some clarification. Any recommendations?

solinaceae3 karma

That's one of the hardest things, it's hard when you get pulled into the family dynamic this way. If it becomes a problem, I would let go of the client. I once had a student that was trying to drag me into their disagreements with their parents, and it was creating an awkward situation for me and making it difficult to teach. As of now, I only keep clients who aren't stressing me out too much.

ywingisthebestwing-11 karma


solinaceae17 karma

Considering I only have 5 clients, all of which I've had since starting this industry (and all have recommended me to their friends), I have no idea who you would be talking about. Perhaps you are mistaking me for somebody else?