Many middle and high school students find themselves in need of a helping hand when they struggle in a particular class—a seemingly reasonable request that unfortunately can often cost upwards of $100 per hour. To create a more affordable option, in the fall of 2019 senior Saket Mungamuru started Peer Tutor Marin, a tutoring business where students can get assistance from others who relate to their academic struggles: their peers.
While professional or college-level tutoring offers a higher level of experience, Marin companies such as Compass Education Group, which charges $220 per hour, or Swell Education Group, which charges $150 to $200 per hour, are much more costly compared to Peer Tutor Marin. At only $45 to $50 per hour, the lower cost is a major advantage for Mungamuru’s business.
“[The price] is definitely a lot more affordable [at Peer Tutor Marin]. These professional tutors or college tutors are charging more than $100 an hour. So I think the fact that we offer a much more cost efficient, but at the same time just as a helpful option is a really important factor for clients,” Mungamuru said.
Furthermore, according to Mungamuru’s co-manager and fellow senior Zachary Gerstenfeld, peer tutoring offers many benefits for the students being tutored.
“I think it’s the idea of peer tutoring, not just tutoring. Getting help from a peer feels less intimidating or frustrating if you do things wrong; it is almost like you are working with a friend on a homework assignment, but the friend is really knowledgeable in that subject matter. Overall, I think it is better for the students’ confidence and motivation, which was the idea behind this business,” Gerstenfeld said.
Mungamuru and Gerstenfeld’s business offers assistance with a variety of different subjects, including SAT or ACT help. Senior Peter Sakai, who worked for Peer Tutor Marin in the spring, joined the staff after seeing the advantages of peer tutoring and the success of the leadership role Mungamuru had taken on.
“The pay was good, and [Mungamuru] was really easy to work with in how he managed [the tutors and the clients],” Sakai said. “I also think a lot of students don’t like to approach authority figures with questions they have, so it is easier for them to identify with peer tutors because we understand what they know because we are at the same level as them. It is just easier to build a relationship which is very helpful when you are trying to learn something and get help.”
After being a tutor for Redwood’s peer tutoring program himself, Mungamuru started Peer Tutor Marin with the goal of supporting fellow high school and middle school students. With the help of Gerstenfeld, Mungamuru got the company off to a successful start.
“I asked my friends [to tutor] and then as my friends asked their friends, the number of tutors began to grow. We also checked [potential tutors’] grades and only asked people we knew were qualified for the job,” Mungamuru said.
To expand the number of customers, Mungamuru made Peer Tutor Marin more accessible for families by offering sessions at the clients’ homes. Additionally, Mungamuru promoted his business by sending out email campaigns to middle and high school parents.
After creating Peer Tutor Marin, Mungamuru learned new skills he might not have if not for the role he took on.
“I have learned a lot of things. I think leadership skills were a big one because I had never created or managed people like I am now by being in charge of getting clients and tutors. It is also a lot of collaboration; [Gerstenfeld] helps a lot with communicating with clients, so by working with him and managing this business, I’ve learned how to successfully manage myself and others,” Mungamuru said.
Due to COVID-19, Peer Tutor Marin is now holding meetings virtually, but you can find their website here.