The launch of i-Tutor, a website designed as a one-stop shop for the perfect tutor, is changing the way students can find help with their studies.
Entrepreneurial Waterloo student Ehsan Sarrafian, the creator of i-Tutor, conceived the idea for a website consisting of university-level tutors from across the province in 2004. Since then, 383 tutees have registered on the website, as well as to 111 tutors from a number of universities, including Western.
“We’ve created a free student resource for any age group,” he said. “The minimum requirement for someone to become a tutor is that he or she has to be a university student. All tutors are independent; they have their own schedule and their own price range.”
To gauge the quality of service, Sarrafian said i-Tutor approves resumés and references that tutors provide when they register in order for them to be identified as certified tutors on the website.
“We don’t measure their intelligence — we leave measuring brilliance up to clients,” he said.
A rating system exists through which tutees can evaluate their tutors. The results are posted online to help potential clients make decisions about which tutor to hire.
Sarrafian attributed his idea for i-Tutor to both his and his friends’ experiences as tutors and tutees, which he considered more arduous than necessary.
“Every university has tutors available, but I felt it was too segregated,” Sarrafian said. “I thought if we had one resource, and one stop, people can find what they are looking for. Many people go home to a different city once the school year ends, and that way tutors from all over can be tracked down.”
There are a number of choices available for students at Western looking for a tutor, as well as students looking to be tutors, said Tracey Ropp, learning skills counsellor at the Student Development Centre.
“There is a tutor referral service. Tutors are not screened and set their own rate, like i-Tutor,” she said. “The Department of Statistics and Actuarial Sciences allows the site to be there, but holds no responsibility for the quality of service provided by the tutors.
“We always try to encourage the use of help centres and departments first, such as the learning skills centre, because they do not cost money,” Ropp added.
The future of i-Tutor includes sponsorships and expanding its service through partnerships with school boards, although profitability is not a major concern, Sarrafian said.
Because of its accessibility, i-Tutor’s service would certainly be an option for people like fourth-year biochemistry student Julia Foster, who has worked as a math tutor in the past.
“I think it’s more convenient than what is currently available out there. People don’t want to put in the work to find things — they want it spoon-fed to them.”