As was foretold, we've added advertisements to the forums! If you have questions, or if you encounter any bugs, please visit this thread: https://forums.penny-arcade.com/discussion/240191/forum-advertisement-faq-and-reports-thread/

Anyone have any experience working for Kaplan or similar?

NeadenNeaden Registered User regular
edited September 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
Hello all. A little bit of background. I am currently a masters student in Chicago and like many grad students, could use some more money. While wasting time on the internet I saw an ad for Kaplan test prep. Remembering that doing well on standardized tests is one of my only marketable skills I thought to my self that I might be able to use that to get me a job. I have done some tutoring in the past as well but all volunteer positions, never paid. I have a few questions though and hoped some of you fine folks could help me on them.
1. Are the tutoring services any decent? I have never actually been to a kaplan tutoring center before and would hate to think I was just wasting people's time and money.
2. Is Kaplan a good employer? What kind of pay would I expect, how many hours, how accomadating are they etc.
3. Should I be looking at Kaplan at all or are there other tutoring services that provide better service/are better employers?

Neaden on

Posts

  • ConfuseousPrimeConfuseousPrime Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Hey Naeden,

    I have some experience here, which I figured would be helpful. First of all, let me say that Kaplan is a great place to work for, in my experience. They primarily employ students like yourself as teachers, so they are pretty understanding of the whole student situation.

    1) When you first start with Kaplan you'll most likely be an instructor, not a tutor. Kaplan only lets teachers with high recommend rates become tutors, so you'll need to work you way up there. The materials are good, but test focused. You aren't going to be teaching people math, or how to read poetry, so much as you'll be teaching them how to quickly solve problems the GRE or SAT. There are tests where the line blurs a bit, but it sounds like you'll be doing GRE and SAT so them's the ropes.

    2) As I said above, I think Kaplan's a great employer. When I started I think it was 26 an hour for teaching, and 8 an hour for preparation time. I know that you can get more for teaching classes that require more knowledge and/or are in more demand (MCAT, for example), and you can get raises if you get a lot of "recommends" from your students. I think among veteran teachers a common wage is between 40 to 50 an hour for teaching or tutoring.

    Keep in mind however, that it's not like a regular job where you can fill up your whole day with work. Most likely one class will net you about 6 hours of teaching time and 6 to 10 hours of prep time a week(typical two day a week class). You can supplement with more classes but the likelihood of you being able to work exactly what hours you want whenever you want are slim just because of the nature of the beast. Also, most classes happen in the evenings and weekend because that's when students have free time.

    I think you can expect a decent amount of hours if you want it. The way that it works is that you sign up for a class, or a tutoring package and then you're confirmed into that schedule (classes are less flexible than tutoring hours). You tell your local center if you can't be available on certain days before the class runs and then they find subs for you (or tell you to pick another schedule). There's a decent variety of schedules and sometimes they even meet on campus, which is great for student teachers.

    I've had one or two last minute conflicts as well, but as with any job if you back out a lot of last minute commitments then you aren't going to be particularity favored. They are pretty understanding unless it becomes habitual. They are, however very big on punctuality and being prepared -- it was my experience that during the training, you had to be both or they wouldn't pass you.

    I'm not really familiar with what else is in your area. When I worked as a teacher for Kaplan I was living in the NYC area. Looked into Kumon, and other tutoring type companies in my area and the rates were comparable, unless you had some in demand knowledge. I would look into it to make sure you are getting the best rate for your services.

    ConfuseousPrime on
  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I knew a fellow who did Kaplan teaching. I think he enjoyed it mostly, but he spent a lot of time networking and trying to talk prospective grad students into taking his class. I don't know if that's expected performance, or if he was just really into it. Definitely figure out if you'll need to be doing commission work finding students for your classes.

    Darkewolfe on
    What is this I don't even.
  • Dropping LoadsDropping Loads Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I haven't taught for Kaplan but I have been told that there is very little room for your personal style and techniques, as their method is very regimented, which I can understand from their perspective. Perhaps Confuseous Prime could comment further on that.

    Dropping Loads on
    Sceptre: Penny Arcade, where you get starcraft AND marriage advice.
    3clipse: The key to any successful marriage is a good mid-game transition.
  • badger2dbadger2d San FranciscoRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I haven't taught for Kaplan but I have been told that there is very little room for your personal style and techniques, as their method is very regimented, which I can understand from their perspective. Perhaps Confuseous Prime could comment further on that.

    On this note - not Kaplan specific, but the OP subject does say "or similar" - I once applied to Princeton Review to teach SAT classes, and then felt I had to drop out of the training partway through, because they were hammering a method so regimented that practically everything you say is verbatim scripted, and not just what you say but the way you say it, tone, body language, facial expression, absolutely everything. They wanted to create programmed presentational robots, not teachers, and that was not an approach I was able to work with.

    YMMV of course, especially with different agencies, but be prepared for that sort of approach. I didn't expect it and wasn't prepared at all to accommodate it.

    badger2d on
    Blizzard: Symphony #1704
    Steam: badger2d
  • ConfuseousPrimeConfuseousPrime Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    What Badger says about Princeton Review is true about Kaplan as well. You should expect a very regimented approach to lessons if you do apply.

    I wouldn't go so far as to say that everything you say is written down already, but at the very least every problem in their textbooks have a recommended approach that you're supposed to use, and each lesson is thematically arranged to take advantage of that approach. You won't be designing your own problems or lesson plans.

    ConfuseousPrime on
  • LocusLocus Trust Me AlbanyRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Neaden wrote: »
    Hello all. A little bit of background. I am currently a masters student in Chicago and like many grad students, could use some more money. While wasting time on the internet I saw an ad for Kaplan test prep. Remembering that doing well on standardized tests is one of my only marketable skills I thought to my self that I might be able to use that to get me a job. I have done some tutoring in the past as well but all volunteer positions, never paid. I have a few questions though and hoped some of you fine folks could help me on them.
    1. Are the tutoring services any decent? I have never actually been to a kaplan tutoring center before and would hate to think I was just wasting people's time and money.
    2. Is Kaplan a good employer? What kind of pay would I expect, how many hours, how accomadating are they etc.
    3. Should I be looking at Kaplan at all or are there other tutoring services that provide better service/are better employers?
    What others have said so far is generally true, but I wanted to add another perspective to maybe help you out. I was a Kaplan LSAT instructor/tutor for about a year and a half (after taking the Kaplan LSAT course myself) so I have a bit of experience with it. As for your specific questions:

    1. The teaching/tutoring services offered by Kaplan are generally pretty good. Like most test prep courses, a lot depends on how much work someone is willing to put in. But, if you put in the work, generally your score will go up. This does not mean that you will see miraculous score increases, but you will see some improvement. That was actually a big source of stress for me when I was an instructor. It was pretty easy to tell which students would not be able to do well on the LSAT. I very much wanted to recommend to them that they cancel the class, get whatever refund they could, and find something else to do. But I was an employee of Kaplan, and if they found out I was actually driving away business I would have been fired. So if you're not okay with telling someone that they should keep trying, even when it's clear they should not keep trying, maybe working as a test prep instructor is not for you.

    2. I found Kaplan to be a good employer. I was paid $20 an hour to start, and they do allow for performance raises, based on how highly your students rate you. They also have some other benefits as I recall, even for part-time employees. Though, of course, the benefits are not the best on the planet. Scheduling is fairly flexible, though once you commit to teach a course they will not look kindly on you dropping out or missing a scheduled class (missing scheduled practice tests they are more lenient with). In terms of the amount of hours you can work, that will fluxuate based on the time of year and the number of other instructors working. I don't think I ever taught more than two classes per LSAT cycle. You can, of course, pick up more hours through tutoring and substituting for other instructors. And, as someone else pointed out, most of the hours are in the evenings and on weekends.

    You also have to keep in mind that every test center is different. For example, I was allowed to start tutoring after I finished my very first cycle of classes. It's actually fairly easy to pick up tutoring students if they enjoy your class and you're a good teacher. And with tutoring your schedule becomes even more flexible.

    What others have said about the rigidity of the lesson plans is also true. There are certain portions of the course which are completely scripted. Generally, very little thought is involved. On the plus side, that means you only have to prepare each lesson once and then go on auto-pilot the rest of the way. On the minus side, you don't really get a chance to be flex your creative muscles and the job can get boring at times. There is some flexibility (you can always put your own spin on things), but for the most part you have to stick to the script.

    All in all I enjoyed my time working for Kaplan. They treated me well and the job was mostly easy and fun, though I very much enjoy teaching and working with others.

    Locus on
  • UberFlopUberFlop Registered User
    edited September 2010
    I've been teaching for the Princeton Review for about 9 years now (PSAT, SAT, LSAT, MCAT Verbal, MCAT Physics), and for the most part, it's a fun way to earn quite a bit of cash on the side (I actually just returned from a class). If you're looking to get into education and use your creativity to enrich and better the lives of young people all across the world, then the Princeton Review is probably not the best place to start. As people have said, the curriculum is very structured but for a reason: the test content itself is so dry that you have to be as engaging as possible and hammer all the techniques home the first time. These students (or parents) are paying anywhere from $600 to $3000 for the courses and tutoring, so you have to be as efficient as possible with the information and techniques. For example, 95% of SAT students are high school kids whose parents are forcing them to attend these 3 hour classes after school; they don't want to be there and they don't give two shits about learning throw-away techniques for the SAT (literally - these techniques are designed specifically for the SAT; once the test is over and you are satisfied with your score, you never use many of these techniques again). The curriculum has been designed in such a way that the content, lessons, and techniques are as engaging as possible so that students follow along in class and put forth some effort outside of class for the homework and diagnostic exams. Going into the class trying your own methods and styles of teaching won't fly since students/parents are paying for the proven TPR method (and the accompanying guarantee), not your own.

    In essence, you're an entertainer following the script/lesson plans of experts who devote their careers to this; however, there's a lot of room for creativity to expand from the script/lesson plans, which is why I'm one of the more successful instructors out there. Following the script will get you paid, but branching out from the core techniques and making the lesson your own gets you the big pay raises, the best classes, and the best tutoring rates. Hell, I make more money working 15-21 hours a week at the TPR than I do at my full-time salaried position.

    Also, students have to suffer through parts of my Open Mic Nite stand-up routine, so there's that.

    UberFlop on
    wwmmd-1.jpg
  • NeadenNeaden Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Hello all, sorry for not responding sooner. Just wanted to say thanks for all the advice and I ended up applying for a position. Thank you once again.

    Neaden on
This discussion has been closed.