The mother of a senior in a presitgious private high school told the New York Times that she had paid six figures in tutoring fees to private tutors last year, when her son was a junior preparing to take the SATs.

The woman, who spoke on the condition of anonyminity, said that this year she has paid $35,000 to Ivy Consulting Group, who has helped her son get through some notoriously difficult courses at Riverdale Country School in New York, whose yearly tuition is $38,000.

There's no family that gets through private school without an SAT tutor, Sandy Bass, the mother of two former Riverdale students and the founder of the newsletter Private School Insider, told the NYTimes. Increasingly, it's impossible to get through private school without at least one subject tutor.

While SAT tutors have been commonplace on the private school circuit for almost as long as SATs have been around, subject tutors are a relatively recent phenomenon that has put psychological and financial pressure on students and parents, during a time when excellence in a few subjects isn't good enough: In order to be competitive, students are expected to excel at every single subject and get A's in every class. And for every student whose performance improves with the help of a private tutor, the higher the bar is raised.

Arun Alagappan, founder of Advantage Testing, told the NYTimes that academic tutoring had grown by 200 percent in recent years.

More and more you have ambitious and intellectually curious students signing up for difficult classes, he said. Mr. Alagappan's has 200 tutors working for him, whose fees range from $195 to $795 for 50 minutes. He added that 26 percent of the tutoring was given pro bono.

Top schools like Riverdale and Dalton largely discourage the use of outside tutoring, but efforts to control it - such as requiring students to indicate on graded take-home assignments if they received outside help -  appear to be in vain.

The policy is that you are not supposed to have a tutor, said the anonymous Riverdale mother. The reality is that they all have them.


[Source: The New York Times]