News / Student Life

The Competition Between Hunter College Versus Private Tutors

Flyers at the third floor area of the North Building. Papers stapled on top of one another on every cork board.
Private tutoring flyers at the third floor area of the North Building.
Photo by Coco Lin

Hunter College tutors face stiff competition on its own campus.

Despite the broad range of learning centers and tutoring services provided by the college-including the Center for Student Achievement, Chanin Language Center, Dolciani Math Learning Center, Rockowitz Writing Center, and Skirball Science Learning Center-the needs of some students remain unmet.

While some tutoring centers, such as the Dolciani Math Learning Center, no longer require students to schedule appointments for anything other than review sessions and workshops, the Skirball Science Learning Center currently requires students to make appointments, which limits the number of students that can attend per session.

In response, competitors in the private tutoring sector have been stapling and taping flyers around campus to attract student clientele. However it is difficult to hold these private tutors accountable for their service as they are not affiliated with the college. On these flyers, particularly the ones found on the bulletin boards in the space between the North Building and Thomas Hunter Hall, there are only telephone numbers provided, but no other forms of identification of the tutors, their credibility, and cost per hour or session.

An example of a private tutor flyer.
Photo by Coco Lin

While some students said that they have never noticed the flyers, many others said they have seen them but never pursued the services.

“I noticed a lot of flyers,” said Ana Minchala, a senior Clinical Psychology major. “But I also noticed most of the tutoring were STEM subjects, which made sense to me.”

Many students said they disregard the flyers because the tutoring services are often unrelated to their classes.

“I have never thought about it as many of my classes did not match the tutoring services offered,” said Nguyen Nguyen, a senior Biochemistry major. “Even if it matches, I would likely not be able to because my financial situation would not cover it.”

Nguyen is also a part-time tutor at Hunter’s Skirball Science Learning Center. “To be honest,” he said. “A lot of the flyers do not list the names of tutors, or that is noticeable. I do not think the tutors are credible.”

An example of a tutoring flyer that is part of Hunter College’s tutoring center, from the 10th floor of the North Building.
Photo by Coco Lin

Hunter College policy states that only student clubs registered with the Office of Student Activities are allowed to post flyers around campus, and specifically only on the third floor of the North Building and second floor of the Thomas Hunter Hall building. All flyers mush have the club’s name, event name, date, time, and location clearly identified.

And yet there are flyers from private tutors all over the third floor of the North Building, despite the ability for Public Safety and Student Activities staff members to remove these ads.

Many of the telephone numbers provided by the flyers went straight to voicemail. But, after a reporter called a number advertising Math, Physics, and Statistics tutoring, one person did pick up, with the caller ID labeled as Noveltek Inc.

The man that picked up the phone sounded confused until he heard the term, “tutor.” Then he became eager to know which service was needed. There were also background noise similar to mumbles of other phone conversations.

When asked about how much the tutoring service cost or his full name, he said that the phone was breaking up.

When asked once again, he said, with hesitation, that his name was “Dr. Powell” and that he was an adjunct professor who used to teach at Hunter College, and he would need his administrator’s permission for further questions.

There is currently one professor that has the last name Powell at Hunter College: Professor Viven Powell, an adjunct lecturer in the Medical Laboratory Sciences department.

A flyer from the 11th floor of the North Building.
Photo by Coco Lin

Despite this veil of secrecy, one student said she had found success through a private tutor.

Petvy Li, a senior Biochemistry major, said she booked a physics tutor she found through flyers for the 2021-22 school year.

“He told me he used to teach physics here, not sure if that was true considering he had no ID card,” Li said.

The tutor called himself Dr. B but no further proof of credential or credibility, but he seems to be at least 50 years old or more, according to Li.

Dr. B charged $50 per hour but Li asked if he could do $45. Dr. B agreed to the price. Li estimated that she had booked around 20-30 hours of tutoring with him for those two semesters. Payment was made through PayPal.

They would meet up at Joe & The Juice near Hunter College, but never inside of Hunter. Few of the tutoring sessions were also held on Zoom.

“He was very helpful and knowledgeable,” she said.

Li prefers one-on-one rather than group tutoring because it just feels like regular class for her. “I have been to the tutoring sessions that the school offers but now Dolciani Center doesn’t have as good tutoring for Calculus Three as before. I miss the old tutors.”

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