Aug 4, 2022 - Technology

A new online tutoring bundle aims to help kids catch up

Illustration of a notebook and computer juxtaposed with handwritten and typed abc's on the devices.

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Online learning platform Varsity Tutors launched Thursday what it calls a first-of-its-kind subscription bundle offering one-on-one tutoring, live classes, self-study programs and more.

  • The program, called "Learning Memberships," starts at $249/month.

Why it matters: Kids across the country are woefully behind after years of COVID-related education disruptions, and parents are eager for anything that might help them catch up.

Details: The bundle's centerpiece is Varsity's tutoring program, which takes users' needs and aptitudes into account to match them with a suitable aide across thousands of subjects.

  • It also includes live drop-in classes in math, science, reading and more; celebrity-led "StarCourse" classes; and assessment tech to help learners monitor their progress.
  • It's open to, and has material for, everyone from kindergarteners to adult learners.

What they're saying: "No matter what subject you're studying, no matter what time of year it is, no matter what portion of the educational journey you're in, we have the right tools, experts and modalities of learning to support you," Chuck Cohn, founder and CEO of Varsity parent company Nerdy, tells Axios.

Yes, but: Some of the kids most in need of extra help right now are also those whose families are least able to afford or access a paid online tutoring platform.

  • Plus, online schooling's failure to replicate the real-deal experience is part of why many kids are behind.

Yet Varsity offers a wealth of free content, Cohn says, and is working with schools with lots of low-income students.

  • Varsity's users are "engaging typically for an hour at a time, 90 minutes at a time, in addition to their normal interactions in school," he says. "And so all that social-emotional learning that naturally occurs in schools, which we believe is incredibly important, is already occurring."

Of note: Demand for tutoring and catch-up services like this one is through the roof right now — but they can't entirely make up for the systemic problems continuing to plague public schools, like teacher shortages.

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