The vast array of benefits offered to military members make off-duty education an attractive complement to service. But for those who haven’t taken coursework since high school, or who have struggled to maintain a schedule during the coronavirus pandemic, it may take some time to adapt to being back in the classroom. The Tutor.com for U.S. Military Families is funded by the Department of Defense (DoD) and Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA) to bridge this gap of learning for today’s military-connected students — completely no cost to eligible students.
Since its founding in 1998, Tutor.com has conducted 21 million one-to-one online tutoring sessions with kindergarteners through graduate students. About three million of those sessions have been to military-connected learners. Subjects range from math and technology to social sciences and business, with 24/7 virtual access to more than 3,000 highly-qualified tutors.
“I joke that Tutor.com is one of the best-kept secrets in the military,” said Maureen Haney, Tutor.com’s Program Manager for Military & Federal Programs. “I’m constantly getting people saying, ‘I wish I would have known about this last semester, or when my child was in algebra!’”
In 2008, Tutor.com’s connection to the military began when a Marine Corps librarian at Twentynine Palms, California, discovered Tutor.com at a conference and decided to purchase online tutoring for those at her installation. Within the year, the Marine Corps saw the benefits and expanded eligibility to all Marine Corps families. By 2010, the DoD funded access for students across all DoD service branches. Coast Guard personnel and their families became eligible for Tutor.com in 2015, through funding from CGMA.
The trickle-down effects of COVID-19 only accelerated the need for extra educational support in the military world. So as of April 2020, all DOD service members, civilian personnel, and dependent family members — including reservists, guardsmen, and their dependents — can use Tutor.com at no cost. An average session runs 20 to 30 minutes, and their subject matter expert tutors work one-to-one with each student. .
Haney, who is the wife of a reservist and also a former military brat, performs outreach and client services for her company’s military- and DOD-connected users. It is a significant duty title, she said, when you consider that about 8 million people are currently eligible to use Tutor.com’s military services.
“All branches of service, whether they are reserve, guard, active duty — any of that — they are eligible to use our services for free,” she said. “That also includes the spouses and their dependent children from kindergarten through college. And if you work for the DOD, you and your dependents are also eligible.”
All students need is an internet connection. Thanks to that ease, Tutor.com’s usage “has increased exponentially over the last year,” Haney said. “I think a lot of students are behind because of the pandemic, because they had online instruction, their classes ended early, or they couldn’t be there in-person and get the individual help they needed.”
Thankfully, Tutor.com’s services have been shown to help students increase their grades, with or without global upheaval. The sessions can even be used for subjects that students already feel good about, Haney said, but just need slight refreshing.
“If a student is going into Algebra II and didn’t feel like they aced Algebra I or really got everything they needed out of it, that’s where we can help,” said Haney. “We fill in those educational gaps.”
Although math and writing are Tutor.com’s most popular subjects, the service offers more than 100 other subjects, including areas like nursing, test prep and English Language Learners (ELL). Spanish-speaking students can also connect with a bilingual tutor in math, science, social studies, writing, and student success subjects.
Tutor.com’s constant accessibility makes it ideal for military members on abnormal shifts, Haney said. The service — one that Haney’s husband used when writing his master’s thesis — even offers a mobile app.
Recent trends for Tutor.com include an uptick in elementary-aged students needing help, but Haney said that the site can be used for common “adult” needs like any type of writing and homeschooling assistance, too.
“If you want to know the phases of the moon, you can get on there and discuss that with a tutor,” Haney said. “Think of our tutors as that homework buddy, that subject matter expert who’s there to help any time you have a question.”