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This semester, the Tutoring Center is aiming to hire more students through more personal methods, such as professors emailing well-performing students.

Credit: Remy Haber

Share knowledge, review math and earn money — three things that tutors at Penn do simultaneously. This semester, Penn ramped up its efforts to recruit high-achieving students with a more personal form of outreach.

Students can apply to become peer tutors in their areas of expertise at Penn’s Tutoring Center at the beginning of every semester. The Tutoring Center recruits tutors by emailing listservs to inform students about the job opportunity and allow those interested to fill out the online application.

Recently, the Tutoring Center added to its recruitment efforts by launching a pilot program where professors directly email high-achieving students about tutoring.

Director of the Tutoring Center Donna Brown said that most students find out about tutoring through a recruiting email, but some find out about the opportunity through various other means. “I had a tutor my freshman year, so I knew about [the program],” said April Meehl, a Wharton senior and math tutor. “I found out about [signing up to become a tutor] on one of the job websites because I was looking for a work-study job.”

This semester, the Tutoring Center tried targeting prospective tutors in a new way. “The ‘professor letters’ is a new initiative — another way of helping us recruit for high-demand courses,” Brown said. “It’s actually a pilot program that went out to students that took the course this past fall ... only with Arts and Sciences, just to see how it [would] work, and it’s been successful in getting us some additional people.”

Esther Jeon, a College freshman, was one of the students who received this email after taking MATH 104 her first semester. Though she doesn’t plan to tutor, she was surprised by the email and found it informative, especially because she didn’t know that students could tutor just for specific classes.

Students must have an overall GPA of 3.25 and must have received at least an A- in the relevant course to apply to be a tutor.

“People are rejected for any number of reasons: the GPA isn’t what we asked for or people do well in courses, but may not explain it as well to another person as they possibly could,” Brown said. “We also would like the student to have taken the course here. It’s not always necessary, but it’s good to know how it’s taught at Penn.”

Meehl explained that when training to be a math tutor, she had to discuss a Math 104 final with a Tutoring Center instructor “just to make sure that I remembered it and that I was capable of helping someone else walk through a problem.”

She added that she chose to be a tutor because “it can be very flexible because if you’re doing private tutoring, you can arrange to do it at any time during the week” and because by helping students, “you feel like you’re giving back to the community in a way.”

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