Hi, I’m Simon.
Before Simon Tutors LLC
I tutored my very first student in the Spring of 2013 while in high school. My mom made a friend while grocery shopping and told them about me. That summer, I started working at a prep center in Jamaica, Queens. In 2015 I moved to one of their branches in Jackson Heights. After high school, I tutored at another local prep center and at their branch in Elmhurst. Throughout this time, I always had a student or two that I tutored on the side.
While working for prep centers, I had varied and mediocre success. Besides tutoring, I also took on some minor administrative roles. And I’ve also designed some rudimentary curriculums. I observed what was working, and what wasn’t, and I already had a few good ideas for SHSAT prep. Unfortunately, managers were always short-sighted- focusing on sales over curriculums. My suggestions fell to deaf ears were a waste, and that was somewhat frustrating.
By 2016, I had enough of all the micromanaging. I realized I could make more money with less work if I focused on private tutoring. A friend/co-worker suggested I try Craigslist as he had.
I had tutored a student into Stuyvesant the previous year, so I advertised myself as an SHSAT tutor. My student had gotten the 2nd highest score possible, so it was a great bragging point. And also a big confidence boost which helped me close my first 3 leads. I still keep in touch with them from time to time. Unfortunately, it seems like I’ve priced myself out of craigslist. Luckily, nowadays all my students are from client references.
Most of my students work with me for the SHSAT. I sometimes take on students for similar tests such as the HSPT and the admissions tests for Bard and Hunter HS. Occasionally I tutor the State Tests during the offseason. In the past, I’ve tutored older students for various Regents, the SAT, and the SAT IIs. Right now, I’m focusing on the SHSAT.
Incorporating as Simon Tutors LLC
After I tutored a few students for the SHSAT, I realized I was onto something. Students seemed happy to work with me, and their parents were encouraging. So I started thinking about the future of my little side hustle. In 2017, I decided I needed to incorporate and document the income in-case I ever wanted to bring on an investor.
So far, everyone who has completed my program has gone onto a Specialized HS.
My first five students were all involved with some prep center or another. Some had already enrolled at a test prep center and were looking for an extra edge over their peers. Some started working with me after deciding their current prep wasn’t enough. I stay updated on the prep scene by probing friends who work at prep centers. I also ask students and parents about their experiences working with prep centers. Combined with my previous work experience, I know how they make the sausage, and I’m glad they exist.
As a conservative estimate, I’ve worked with 90+ students over the years, of which ~15 were 1-on-1. I have zero formal training in teaching and business management. I borrow some ideas from here and there and put it together in a way that makes sense to me. Whenever I make a big decision, I ask myself what a typical prep center would do, and then I do the opposite. That has been my guiding principle whenever I’ve made a big design decision. From the design of my website, my payment policies, my program, and even my source material. So far it’s been working great. I know what I have is unique, and I can’t wait to reflect in another three years.
For the last couple of years, my goal was to build a strong track record to raise my rates. I also wanted to prove to myself that I was on to something in regards to a prep program that always works. It’s still my primary goal, but in hindsight, this was easily the simplest.
I’m currently working on a blog and an online course. The overarching goal is to scale my tutoring gig into a scalable tech business.
The purpose of the blog is to create an archive of everything I know about SHSAT prep. I love when people ask me questions about the exam. I know a lot about it, and I get to feel a bit smarter for a few minutes. So I’m pretty excited about the future of the blog.
I’ve noticed that I get a lot of the same questions every year when I work with a new student. It’s completely understandable and, by now, predictable. The blog will answer the more common concerns so that we can talk about the more individual concerns.
Online course (ETA Nov 2019)
The purpose of the online course is for me to capitalize on my prep program on a much larger scale. If I had to put an altruistic spin on it, it’d be to make SHSAT prep more accessible. The experience will be better than anything offered by the established tutoring companies. It will also be better than working with me in-person.