Side Hustle 101: Your Guide to College Tutoring – Knowledge Bytes Episode 3

About Knowledge Bytes Episode 3 “Side Hustle 101: Your Guide to College Tutoring”

On Episode 3 of the Knowledge Bytes podcast our guest is Olivia Christ, a current senior at West Virginia University studying Biology. Listen to hear Olivia talk about how she created her college tutoring side hustle and found success. Olivia shares how to get started as a college tutor and promote your services, avoid burnout, lesson planning tips, and more.

We discuss:



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You can find Olivia on Lessonpal and book music lessons with her.

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Episode transcript

[00:00:00] Kaitlin: Hi, you’re listening to Knowledge Bytes, a podcast where we discuss topics related to the world of education, so you can get your dose of new knowledge. This week I’m talking with Olivia Christ, who is currently a senior at West Virginia University studying biology. We discuss how to get into one of the best jobs or side hustles for college students, which you might guess is tutoring!

So stick around and by the end of the episode, you’ll have an idea of how you can start tutoring, promote your services, and be on your way to making some significant side income. 

Before we jump in, don’t forget to subscribe wherever you’re listening, so you can stay up to date with new episode. Here we go!

Hi everyone. My name is Kaitlin Fenn. I work for Lessonpal, the affordable online tutoring marketplace. I’m really excited to be joined today by Olivia Christ to talk about how to succeed as a college tutor and earn a side income. [00:01:00] Welcome, Olivia. 

[00:01:01] Olivia: Hello. 

[00:01:03] Kaitlin: Before we jump in, I’ll introduce Olivia. She is from Parkersburg, West Virginia.

She is currently a junior at West Virginia University studying biology. Right now she’s tutoring students in biology and organic chemistry as well, and has been tutoring for two years. So like I said, we’re gonna talk to her today about her experience and how to succeed as a college tutor. 

So, to start, Olivia, how did you first get into tutoring and online tutoring specifically?

[00:01:34] Olivia: So in my sophomore year, I was messaged by one of my professors from freshman year. So it was from a class that I really, really enjoyed. It was Bio 115 or the Principles of Biology specifically. And I really liked the class. I really liked the professor. So when he reached out to me, because I got an A in the class and was like “Are you willing to tutor?” I was like, sure.

So that’s kind of what got me started. And of course this was 2021, [00:02:00] so things were still uncertain because of COVID, so that’s why it was online tutoring at the time. 

[00:02:06] Kaitlin: Okay, nice. 

So did, did the professor kind of connect you to students in that class that needed help? 

[00:02:12] Olivia: It was through – our university has it’s called the Biology Learning Center, so the link is like provided to everyone, like in a biology class, so they can just kind of hop on that link at these specific times of day.

[00:02:25] Kaitlin: Awesome. And did you have any specific motivation or reason that you said yes to doing that tutoring? 

[00:02:34] Olivia: Partially it’s because I just really, really enjoy biology and I, I find it kind of easy for me to understand so when I can help someone else understand it, it’s really fun for me. And I also find it really rewarding, like to get that moment when someone just goes like, oh, and they understand it.

That’s part of what motivated me to say yes. 

[00:02:54] Kaitlin: Yeah, the, the light bulb moment. 

[00:02:56] Olivia: Yeah. 

[00:02:57] Kaitlin: Awesome. What was, what would [00:03:00] you say was the most difficult part about first starting as a tutor? 

[00:03:05] Olivia: So one of the most difficult parts was so because it was online and because it was like kind of a, like people would just kind of show up, there was no ability to really like plan beforehand. So you knew kind of the general, like you knew the subject and you knew kind of based on the time period, the kind of questions that they would ask, but it was very hard to pre-prepare for like what kind of like, you couldn’t really individualize it at all.

Hmm. That is difficult. 

[00:03:34] Kaitlin: And how did you, how did you overcome that or adapt to that? 

[00:03:38] Olivia: I just made sure to always review right before the lessons and to always have the material like on me and like open during the lesson so that way I’d be prepared for like any kind of question that they could possibly ask, like from the class.

[00:03:52] Kaitlin: And I guess going off of that do you have tips for people in terms of planning their lessons? So I know the reviewing the material [00:04:00] beforehand but maybe someone does have a more individualized relationship with a student… what are some tips for planning those lessons? 

[00:04:08] Olivia: So I would definitely ask the student beforehand, like specifically what they’re struggling with, to kind of get an idea of specifically like what topics to go over. And I would kind of advise against like the Q-and-A type style tutoring ’cause that can definitely work in some settings. But for like a longer form tutoring session, like hour or more, it’s definitely better to find out what they’re struggling with and plan for a way to go over that content, like from a new perspective.

So like kind of reviewing it, but to give them like more insight into that topic so you’re not just kind of like, they’re like, Hey, what’s this? And then you just answer. So you’re kind of reviewing the material that the professor gave them, but in a new light so they can understand it a little better.

[00:04:53] Kaitlin: Okay. Great. And have you done any other jobs during college to make a side income? [00:05:00] 

[00:05:00] Olivia: Yeah, so during my freshman year, actually while I was a volunteer tutor last year, I was an RA, like a resident assistant. And then this year I’m a, a work study as well. 

[00:05:10] Kaitlin: Oh, great. And what are some, I guess, advantages of a tutoring job compared to the, to the others or disadvantages too so people understand.

[00:05:20] Olivia: So for like a tutoring job, there’s definitely advantages in that you really get to set your own schedule and you have a lot more control over like where you work. So I get to set like which buildings I work in, like where I see you know, students or like whether I’d rather do it online and what times, like I can block off certain days.

But of course, like with other jobs specifically, like resident assistant or work study, you know, there’s a little less freedom and like retail jobs of course as well. You just have to, I think the only downside, I guess it’s not a downside necessarily that I encounter, but you have to enjoy it, I would say, is you have to find some kind of aspect of [00:06:00] it rewarding or else it could get very draining quickly ’cause you’re just kind of, you know, you’re already in school and you’re already dealing with, you know, the stress from your course load. So now you’re dealing with someone else’s course load. So if you don’t enjoy it, you could get burnout very quickly. So just be aware of that. 

[00:06:17] Kaitlin: Hmm. And how, what are some ways that you avoid that burnout? I know you said you find tutoring rewarding, but are there other things that you do to avoid the burnout phase? 

[00:06:28] Olivia: I just set if it’s during a very heavy period of my course load is I’ll just set like a block period where I won’t take on any students for like a short period of time. Yeah. Smart. So just some time management and yeah, just some being aware of like, okay, if I know that I’m gonna be taking on more at this time, it wouldn’t be fair to me and it wouldn’t be fair to my students to give them like, you know, lower quality lessons to have lessons at this time to just setting off this time for their students.

[00:06:56] Kaitlin: And I know you mentioned so you said like you pick [00:07:00] or kind of tell people which buildings you’re gonna be in and where to tutor students along with online. How did you manage to find in-person tutoring students as well as online? 

[00:07:14] Olivia: So, on my campus, I did a lot of like kind of advertising. So I made a bunch of flyers.

That say like, you know, I put them in relevant buildings. So it says that I’m a biology tutor, that I’m an organic chemistry tutor. Then I put them in the biology halls, I put them in the chemistry halls. And in our campus specifically, there’s like a building that gets a lot of traffic because people will use it as kind of like a gateway between certain areas.

So like, it’s like right next to like our bus station and like we have like, it’s called like a P R T. It’s kind of like just a little I wouldn’t know how to describe it. Sorry. It’s like, like a little like metro kind of, but like really tiny, like a little like trolley kind of thing. So right next to that station I put like flyers in there and it’s a link to like my Lessonpal profile.

And I mentioned like all the classes that I tutor [00:08:00] on there. So just kind of like a lot of on campus advertising as well. 

[00:08:04] Kaitlin: Awesome. Really smart. That’s a good way to get the word out.. Do you do anything else other than putting up flyers and kind of the on-campus advertising that you would recommend to people? 

I mentioned, sorry. I mentioned it like sometimes like in like courses, like, you know, like like in classes, like the very first day, like it’ll be like, everyone will be like, Hey, like introduce yourself. Like I’ll just like mention that. I’ll be like, Hey, I’m a biology and organic chemistry tutor. So- 

Cool. That’s smart. Then people have it in their heads. 

[00:08:36] Olivia: Yeah. And then they’ll find you and be like, oh, okay. 

[00:08:40] Kaitlin: Yeah. Great. Okay. This question is specifically kind of thinking or keeping in mind the, the college students that want to become a tutor but are maybe hesitant or doubt that they have the knowledge to actually tutor someone.

What would you say to them or kind of Advice you would give to them [00:09:00] in support of them starting as a, a tutor? 

[00:09:03] Olivia: I mean, I would say start out like volunteer tutoring. Like either find like a like the biology Learning center that we have at West, at W V U, where like you can just volunteer as a tutor there and volunteer your time or just like on your own time.

Like if you have a friend that’s struggling in a class. That you’re doing well in just kind of testing the waters there where it’s kind of low stakes, you know, you’re not charging anyone for it and you can just kind of get a feel to see how you, first of all, how you feel about it. Like if you actually enjoy it, you find it rewarding and you feel it’s something that you could do like more regularly, I guess.

So just kind of test the waters by being like a volunteer tutor first, and if you enjoy that, then move on and try and you know, find like a more regular tutoring position. 

[00:09:46] Kaitlin: That’s great advice. And what do you like about online tutoring versus in person and, and vice versa? 

[00:09:54] Olivia: So, online tutoring, I like the flexibility of it.

You know, you can meet with like people like [00:10:00] across the country, you know, like I like with online tutoring and tutor someone from like California or Oregon or wherever. But of course in person it’s a little more limited and you know, you’ve gotta find like a place to meet. And is that place like open, available?

But online there is also the downside of. It can be a little harder sometimes to get things across. Like, you know, you’re limited to using like the online whiteboard to draw things out. And sometimes you also, like on Zoom you can see each other’s faces, but like some, but it’s harder sometimes to get that sense of like as you’re watching someone while you’re tutoring, you can kind of see if it’s actually like, sinking in or if it’s actually connecting.

And in person you do have that little bit of advantage where as you’re kind of like going through it, if they just kind of have like a glazed overlook on their face, you’re like, okay, I gotta change something. Yeah, totally. 

[00:10:50] Kaitlin: Awesome. And let’s see, I guess. Anything else that [00:11:00] you want to share? Either about online tutoring or managing your time as an online tutor or tutor in general or having a second job while you’re, while you’re taking classes yourself.

[00:11:14] Olivia: Definitely. One thing is don’t be afraid to set boundaries. Like don’t be afraid, like to, to block off time or to. Tell somebody like, "Hey, sorry, no, I can’t do that day," or I can’t do that time, whatever it is. Just don’t be of like, you’re a student first. Don’t be afraid to, you know, take care of yourself and be aware that burnout is a real thing.

And you know, if you get burnout, you’re gonna be doing yourself a disservice. And like I said earlier, you’re gonna be doing a disservice to your students. So just be aware of that. 

[00:11:44] Kaitlin: All right, all great advice. Well, let’s see. That is all that I have for Olivia today. So Olivia, thank you so much again for taking the time to give this advice and talk about your experience.

We really appreciate it. If you are [00:12:00] listening to this and you are thinking about becoming a tutor, I’m gonna link Olivia’s lesson profile in the description of the video so you can get some inspiration, see what she’s added to her profile. And if you’re looking for tutoring, again, Olivia is tutoring biology, organic chemistry.

Are you open to other subjects as well? Like can people reach out to you about, 

[00:12:22] Olivia: For right now just biology and organic chemistry. 

[00:12:25] Kaitlin: Okay, great. So biology and organic chemistry. You can check out her profile and book lessons if you’re looking for those subjects. So Olivia, thanks again. Have a great rest of your day.

[00:12:37] Olivia: Thank you. You too. 

[00:12:39] Kaitlin: Thanks so much for listening to Knowledge Bytes. If you found this podcast valuable, please share a review and share it with a friend. Also, make sure you follow or subscribe wherever you’re listening to. Avoid missing any of our weekly episodes to get more episode content. You can follow Lessonpal on social media.

Again, thanks for listening and see you next time.[00:13:00] 

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