The College Puzzle Blog
Prior PostingsAbout
Dr. Michael W. Kirst

Michael W. Kirst is Professor Emeritus of Education and Business Administration at Stanford University since 1969.
Dr. Kirst received his Ph.D. in political economy and government from Harvard. Before joining the Stanford University faculty, Dr. Kirst held several positions with the federal government, including Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Manpower, Employment and Poverty. He was a former president of the California State Board of Education. His book From High School to College with Andrea Venezia was published by Jossey Bass in 2004.

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My blog discusses the important and complex subjects of college completion, college success, student risk factors (for failing), college readiness, and academic preparation. I will explore the pieces of the college puzzle that heavily influence, if not determine, college success rates.

Online Tutoring for High School and College Success

There is no question that face-to-face instruction is the best method of teaching. However, students often find themselves needing an extra bit of instruction during odd hours. Online tutoring can provide a convenient, affordable alternative to private tutoring. Though it isn't the perfect environment to receive instruction, it can certainly serve as another piece of the college success puzzle.

Some colleges offer an online tutoring program through the school. Tutors are often graduate students, teacher aides or even moonlighting professors. Students should be encouraged to take advantage of any college mentoring or tutoring programs offered by their school. However, there are also several national companies that provide instant online tutoring for a small fee.

The following companies offer online tutoring from trained, qualified professionals:

  1. – Currently the most popular name in online tutoring, this company provides live, background-checked instructors 24 hours a day. Students of any age can benefit, from grade school to grad school.

  1. Tutorvista – This is one of the few companies that only hires tutors with graduate-level degrees. Each tutor is also trained for months and must pass a stringent certification process before they can begin working with students. This company is highly recommended for students who need help with advanced coursework.

  1. SMARTHINKING – This is another online tutoring company that is aimed at students who are pursuing a higher education. All tutors must have completed at least some graduate coursework in the field they are instructing. Of special note is the online writing lab offered by SMARTHINKING, which can definitely aid students who are struggling with an essay.

While there are certainly more online tutoring companies springing up all over the Web, the companies above are considered to be reputable and most effective. One thing that online tutors won't do is provide pat answers to questions or complete homework for a student. Instead, the tutors are encouraged to engage with the student and ensure that the student understands everything they cover in a session.

Both the affordability and convenience of online tutoring should encourage students to ask for help when they normally wouldn't. For that reason alone, it helps to improve a student's college success rate.


Heather Johnson is a freelance writer, as well as a regular contributor for OEDb, a site for learning about online education. Heather invites your questions, comments and freelancing job inquiries at her email address: .

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