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College of Arts and Sciences

Students start tutoring business to help kids struggling with remote learning

By: Aarushi Machavarapu
A&S Communications
May 18, 2020

Clockwise from top left, Adele Smolansky ‘23, Aarushi Machavarapu '23, Samantha Heller ‘23, Isabel Beariault ‘23 and Owen Sullivan ‘22.
Clockwise from top left, Adele Smolansky ‘23, Aarushi Machavarapu '23, Samantha Heller ‘23, Isabel Beariault ‘23 and Owen Sullivan ‘22.

As the spring semester comes to an end, some students have been spending their time outside of online classes pursuing passion projects they’ve intended to start for years. Adele Smolansky ‘23 founded 2020 Tutors this spring to provide students with access to educational support. 

The company offers online tutoring for grades K-12, specifically employing Cornell students as tutors. Their services normally cost $30 per hour, but Adele wanted to offer “pay what you can” prices in light of COVID-19’s impact on family finances. 

“Most of the students who we’re helping right now are paying $0, because that’s the point of what we’re trying to do. When requesting discounts, a lot of students are explaining to me that their parents lost their jobs and are struggling to even put food on the table,” Smolansky said. 

The company’s social impact mission drives its work. 

Samantha Heller ‘23 collaborated with Smolansky in starting the business, and serves as its head of client services. “At the beginning, Adele and I were spending a few hours every day to establish the social media and website, and that’s how we got our first couple of clients,” she said. 

Since then, they’ve greatly expanded, with their reach including clients from Argentina. “One of the benefits of doing online tutoring versus in person is that we can reach a larger group of people,” said Owen Sullivan ‘22, a tutor for the company.

Cornell students have taken great interest in tutoring, signing up after seeing posts in various Cornell-related Facebook groups and other social media platforms.

“We’ve gotten so many tutors wanting to work for the company, so that just shows the support on campus,” said Isabel Beariault ‘23, who also tutors for the company.

Smolansky’s goal is to continue 2020 Tutors in the fall and after. "The future of education is going to have a large online presence, and 2020 Tutors can continue to be a part of that,” she said.

Aarushi Machavarapu ‘23 is a communications assistant for the College of Arts & Sciences.