Nth Degree Tutoring is a one-man shop, a proud local business owner serving the community of Westside Los Angeles. Without national name recognition like Kaplan or Manhattan, one of my challenges is getting students to feel comfortable pre-paying for the GRE course. I understand if you feel some hesitation about paying in advance for a course you’ve never heard of.
First, I’d like to explain the reasoning behind this. I started out tutoring just one student at a time. Due to the extremely lucky twist of fate that the name “Nth Degree” has the letters “GRE” in it, I suddenly found my online profiles attracting more searches for “GRE” than anything else. When I started getting weekly calls from new GRE students, I thought it would make sense to put them together into a single class. How do you encourage students to enroll together? By lowering the price. I slashed the hourly rate from $60 down to $25. That price allowed me to be the industry’s price leader, offering an 18-week course for $500, but of course it only made sense for me if at least three students enrolled.
For the first few sessions, I would get calls from four or five students who all said, “That sounds great! I’m definitely interested!” Then only one or two students would actually show up. That left me in an awkward position. I had to either bill those students regular rates or accept very low payments for myself. Either way, it wasn’t fair. I soon realized that I needed a way to find out which students were “thinking about it” and which ones were committed. I asked students to commit to the class with a deposit.
Now, I know that $550 is a lot to ask, so I give you many options. Some students have called and complained about “having to prepay without even getting to talk to the instructor.” Well, that’s just simply not accurate. I am available for free consultations four days a week. Of course, you also have the option of booking a one hour one-on-one lesson with me first. Some students like to have a chance to work with me just a little bit before making the bigger decision about the whole class. You may also break your tuition into two payments of $295 each (a little higher because I bear the risk of students’ not completing the course).
“What if I have to be absent?” you may ask. That’s covered too. I have video make-up lessons, so I’ll send you the links to what you need.
Furthermore, your deposit is even refundable — except in the rare circumstances when there are exactly three or ten students enrolled.
There are numerous ways to get a feel for the class before enrolling. See my Yelp reviews (upper right corner of the website)most of which were written by GRE students. You can even ask for contact information for a student who has taken my course. My YouTube channel (also in the upper right) hosts several video lectures I have recorded, most of which are GRE-appropriate.
All in all, I think that asking for a prepayment is fair and justified. It is also standard practice. I don’t know of any test-prep courses that let you pay as you go.
If you don’t feel ready to commit to a deposit, then the answer is simple: don’t sign up for the class yet! Book a one-on-one lesson or a free 30-minute consultation so you can get to know me before making that decision.