Help is just a click away: Free online tutoring for military families

By MARK ABRAMSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 25, 2010

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — The children of servicemembers and deployed Defense Department civilians who need more than Mom or Dad’s help with school work might have gotten their homework prayers answered.

Whether it’s tips for finding a job, proofreading a term paper, or preparing for the SAT, the Web site, www.tutor.com/military can help.

The Marines first started using
Tutor.com more than a year ago, and the Army signed up to use the site last summer. Then, in late January, the DOD decided to make the site available for free to every branch, said Jennifer Kohn, Tutor.com vice president of corporate communications.

Kohn described Tutor.com and its DOD site as an on-call tutor service that allows people to log in to the site, chat back and forth with a tutor via an instant messenger and use an online chalkboard to work problems in math, science, English and other subjects.

“In our dialogue with the services, we started hearing wonderful feedback about Tutor.com,” said Nora Clouse, program analyst in the Office of Children and Youth in the Military Community.

The office has already gotten a number of comments from people who are grateful for the service since it became available DOD wide, Clouse said.

According to DOD officials, 13,000 people have logged onto the site in its first three weeks. And DOD signed a five-year contract with Tutor.com for $1.8 million the first year and $2 million each for four option years.

The site is available to servicemembers, their families, deployed reservists and National Guard servicemembers and deployed DOD civilians and their dependents.

Tutor.com had been around about a decade before DOD started using it, and it has delivered more than 5 million tutoring sessions, she said. Math and science help for kindergarten through 12th grade are in big demand on the site.

“Well over 90 percent of the students are saying they would recommend us to a friend,” Kohn said.

Kohn said comments to the site indicate that the DOD community is pleased with the service, and Tutor.com uses comments and feedbacks to fine tune the service.

“People are saying this is great [to help their children] because I have a deployed spouse,” Kohn said.

Deployments are a major reason why DOD started this service, Clouse said.

When it comes to help with preparing for tests, the site has practice exams for the SAT, ACT, general diploma and others.

“We aren’t a Kaplan or Princeton Review,” Kohn said, referring to popular test preparation programs, “we aren’t going to give you tips on how to cheat the test.”

And as for finding work, job seekers can use the site to do mock interviews, get resume advice and samples. The site includes tips and tools and articles about job searching, Kohn said.