Image from the InstaEDU Facebook.

Image from the InstaEDU Facebook.

On InstaEDU, high school and college students who need help in any subject can get connected instantly with a high-quality tutor in an online lesson space.

Students and tutors alike come from around the world, at any time of the day, in any subject. (Meaning, you’re not alone during your next finals all-nighter!) Check out how it works and available tutor subjects here.

We interviewed Alan Rozet, Harvard College ’16, who has been with InstaEDU for over a year about his experience as an online tutor.

TP: ​How did you get involved with InstaEDU?

AR: I got involved with InstaEDU as a freshman last year. I was coming back from class one day and there was a little slip on my door saying something along the lines of “Tutor on for $20 an hour!” I went onto the website, checked it out, submitted an application to be a tutor, and started tutoring maybe two weeks later.

​TP: Tell us about being an online tutor. How does it fit into your busy life as a college student? What do you in the InstaEDU world?

AR: Being an online tutor is super flexible. I get a notification on Facebook whenever there’s a tutoring request or when a student sends me a message; at first, I mostly jumped on the on-demand requests, and then as I got more thumbs-up on my profile I started getting a lot more messages in my instaEDU inbox. From there it became a lot like any in-person tutoring experience: I had some regular students that I would help out throughout the semester, interspersed with students that would just need help once, with, say, a specific problem or concept. It also fluctuates during the semester; during midterm seasons I’ve gotten floods of messages that I’ve had to respond to with “Sorry, I’m taking midterms too!!”

The online aspect also helps when you need a quick refresher before you start, or even in the middle of a lesson, because you can just quickly Google a formula or pertinent fact.

​TP: ​How would you compare InstaEDU to other tutoring services, such as one-on-one personal tutors, or online educational resources like Khan Academy?

AR: I’ve really liked using InstaEDU’s interface, especially as they’ve been improving it since I started with them last year. I think students feel a lot more comfortable since they get to choose whether the lesson is through audio, video, or text, and the shared whiteboard is usually sufficient to demonstrate whatever concept I need to show. A key difference between tutoring and something like Khan Academy is that if someone just isn’t getting a concept, with tutoring you can show it to them in a different way, or liken it to another concept that they do understand. I was doing one lesson about calorimetry, and the student wasn’t quite grasping the idea of specific heat of a substance, and I compared energy to water in a bathtub – and it cleared everything up.

Through audio and text [lessons format] there is more of a disconnection with the student, but that’s to be expected. Through [live] video, plenty of students have completely broken the pace of the lesson and burst out with questions like “omg wait I can’t believe you go to Harvard what’s that like!?” And so I definitely still get to interact with students on a more personal level like I do when I’m tutoring in-person.

TP: Because the tutoring experience brings students together in a unique way, I’m sure you’ve had some interesting experiences, such as that personal relationship you mentioned earlier. Any stories that stick out in memory?

AR: There was a student that I tutored for several months with Algebra 2 / Trig, and I just remember that she would always let me know afterward how she did on quizzes and tests – she would always be so happy to share with me when she got 100 on them!

There was another student that was from Cyprus, that wanted me to offer testimony to her parents that going to college in the United States would be safe; that was a pretty funny situation.

I also remember one of my first lessons; it was in biology regarding cell transport methods. It was definitely one of my most fulfilling lessons, because I had never taught that subject before, but over the course of about an hour, we had covered everything that the student could have possibly ever wanted to know about passive and active transport. At the end, the student exploded into thanks and praise, and how she couldn’t have gotten through so much without me. It felt good!

Bottom Line

For high school or undergraduate students looking for lessons, you can try InstaEDU for up to 2 hours for free! After that, rates start at just 40¢/minute.

Looking to tutor instead?About 60% of InstaEDU’s tutors are currently in college and they love tutoring for InstaEDU because 1) $20/hour pay, which is a lot higher than most on-campus jobs and 2) it’s totally flexible — there aren’t any required or minimum hours. If you’re interested, the application is available here.

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the author

Jo is in her first year of studying biology at Fordham University, with interests in the social sciences, business management, and world domination. Recently returned to New York from 12 years in California, you'll most likely find her adventuring around the city. Residences include the science and humanities departments, running trails, and every coffee shop from here to Narnia. Nobody’s quite sure if she has a heart, but she’s got some sort of pump that moves around the black sludge that is espresso through her veins.

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