Every year, for the past 4 years, someone has asked me a variation of this question. My answer still hasn’t changed but the reasons keep piling on.
I don’t want to be a manager.
At first, it was because I didn’t want to take on the burden of managing other people. The better prep-centers hire tutors who are from impressive colleges. The same prep-centers often have to deal with the resulting high turnover rate. The “most qualified” candidates tutor part-time until they get a real salaried job. Or until they get poached.
On top of the high turnover rate, I’d also have to worry about training and background checks. The high turnover also makes it difficult to maintain quality control. It’s much easier to maintain a solid reputation when you only have to worry about yourself.
When I used to tutor at prep-centers I usually got along with the owners. The managers in the middle were a different story. I hated working under managers and I would hate to manage other people. There is too much potential for drama.
It might be surprising to learn that I’m kind of introverted. Managing people tires me out faster than working out at the gym. Managing people doesn’t mesh well with my personality.
My vision of the future of test prep:
I currently believe that successful test-prep is all about the curriculum. Not the tutor. (And by extension, not me.) I’m pretty good at tutoring, but my ability to design curriculums is much greater.
The typical method is to hire tutors, and then spend as much capital on acquiring students. This approach has two constraints, the number of tutors and the number of students. If the tutoring takes place at a prep-center then space is also another limiting factor.
Because of those limitations, a software approach can scale much better. The only constraint is the number of students. The software is developed once. Server costs are marginal. One of my current projects is to prep students with a software version of my prep strategy. I’m betting I’ll be able to produce more successful students this way than the traditional way.
I’m still keeping an open mind.
I’m a little ashamed to admit that one of the biggest reasons is that I’m stubborn. I want to create a solution to test prep that is better than anyone else’s. I’ve decided that the only way to do that is to take some risks going against the grain. I also want to do this by myself, solo, for as long as I can.
Who knows? If I ever meet someone like-minded, I could scrap everything I’ve said above and come up with a new plan. I’m not counting on any of that anytime soon.
Launching a prep center isn’t totally out of the question.
I would like to open up a prep center in about 2 years after I’m done experimenting with my current project. I picture students will come in, sit down, open an app on their iPads study on their own. Whenever they have trouble they’ll watch a lecture for support. Tutoring is not essential for test-prep. The most important thing is to work on assignments and workbooks in the correct order. Before I scale the goal is to make the software more effective than prep centers and tutors.
So yeah… those are some of my reasons. I’ll come back to this post if/when more reasons come to mind.
My target demographic is self-motivated students and parents who are willing to invest in their children’s education. The best way for them to prep is to self-study. Usually, all they’re missing is a plan to tell them WHAT and HOW to study. That’s usually why people hire tutors. I am betting on my software to prep students without the need for tutoring.
It’s difficult to find like-minded people who I can trust to deliver the same results as I can. Tutoring is not the endgame for me. I don’t want to manage other tutors. I don’t want to worry about turnover rates, tardy tutors, scheduling, training, and drama. The future of test-prep is all digital. Tutors are not necessary to get better at taking exams. And so I don’t see myself hiring any tutors. I’m trying to replace myself with automation.