Georgetown students and alumni stand on call to assist with pressing homework questions as InstaEDU tutors.

Launched last May, InstaEDU, an online tutoring service based in California, provides high school students with one-on-one academic support around the clock.

“I think that one-on-one relationships in education are very important, especially since class sizes are getting bigger, and research shows how detrimental that can be to students,” InstaEDU co-founder and CEO Allison Johnston said.

According to Johnston, roughly 24 Georgetown alumni and students currently serve as tutors for the company.

Alexandra Kenin (COL ’01) recently became an InstaEDU tutor to maintain her French skills.

“I thought it was an interesting service. I majored in French at Georgetown and thought it was a good way to continue using the language,” she said.

The InstaEDU website revolves around a chat feature that allows students to connect with tutors. By typing a subject into the search box, students are provided with a list of available tutors who can answer the questions based on their specialties.

Students can chat with tutors through Google or Facebook at any time, and all chats link back to theInstaEDU website, where students and tutors can access a private lesson place. These secure online locations allow students to upload homework assignments so both the student and tutor can write on the assignment. Video chat is also available in this shared workspace, and no special software is required.

“We have a lot of enthusiasm from our tutors because it is a very flexible job, and students love it, too, because they have access to homework help throughout the night, and it’s more fun to get help from college students,” Johnston said.

Kenin echoed this statement. “What I think is the best is the always-on functionality [of the website]. A lot of times, you don’t know what your questions will be before cramming for a test, so it’s good to have someone to reach out to at 11 p.m.,” she said.

Though she praised the general concept of InstaEDU, Kenin suggested one improvement for the website.

“They should better gauge the level of knowledge of the tutor when matching students with tutors,” she said.

Alison Johnston, her brother Dan Johnston and Joey Shurtleff, all graduates of Stanford University,cofounded the startup company after noticing that students living outside large cities did not have access to low-cost academic resources outside of school.

“InstaEDU makes great tutors more accessible, regardless of time and location,” Alison Johnston said.

Tutoring sessions do not include time limits but come with a fee of $22 per hour. Tutors receive a wage of $20 per hour.

“Private tutoring can be costly for families, and at the end of the day, most families cannot afford it,” Alison Johnston said. “With InstaEDU, 10 minutes of tutoring corresponds to a couple dollars, which is a more manageable price.”

Though InstaEDU launched less than six months ago in May, Alison Johnston wrote in an email that the company has already hired over 1,000 tutors, all current students and alumni of top colleges like Georgetown.

“We’ve had a really great response from tutors because of the flexibility of the job, and they can earn $20 from a dorm room,” Alison Johnston said.

Potential tutors must submit an application that includes questions about previous tutoring experience, subject of specialization and the reason for their interest in the job.

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