- Christopher Rim, 26, is the founder of Command Education, a tutoring and college advisory company in New York.
- Parents pay Rim’s company up to $US85,000 ($AU117,773) a year for one-on-one college prep for their kids.
- This is what his job is like, as told to freelance writer Jenny Powers.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
This as-told-to essay is based on a transcribed conversation with Christopher Rim, a 26-year-old college tutoring business owner. It has been edited for length and clarity.
I started a tutoring business from my college dorm room in 2015, after underclassmen from my high school began reaching out to ask me how I’d managed to be the only student from my class to get into Yale (and despite not having a 4.0 GPA).
These students were looking for someone to show them the ropes and guide them through the college application process, and based on that need, I launched Command Education.
My business provides one-on-one dedicated support to help students perfect their college applications, for a price of $US85,000 ($AU117,773) per year.
For this fee, each of our students is enrolled in the Premier Roadmap program and assigned a designated mentor from our team of 21 full-time tutors.
Like me, all of our tutors are in their twenties and graduates from either an Ivy league or top 10 school. I’ve found students work better with a non-parental influence closer in age to them who feels more like a peer.
We currently have 150 students in the Premier Roadmap program, and most begin working with us in ninth grade.
As tutors, we know that long gone are the days when high GPAs and near-perfect test scores were all you needed to get into the top schools — now that’s the baseline.
Today’s college admissions counselors look at student’s life experiences more than ever. They want to know what students are most passionate about, what types of extracurriculars they’re engaged in, and how they spend their summers. The details can be a determining factor between two applicants with similar grades and test scores.
We guide them through everything from developing their time management skills, to course selection and extracurriculars, to helping them locate leadership opportunities in both their schools and communities.
When it’s time to apply to college we assist with compiling an appropriate list of schools, strategize about early action/decision, help navigate the essay process, and create itineraries for college visits and tours. Since launching in 2015, 96% of our students have been accepted into one or more of their top three schools, including all eight Ivy league institutions.
We also offer academic tutoring in all subjects as well as the SAT and ACT prep which costs an additional $US950 ($AU1,316) an hour. On average, most families purchase a block of 40 hours to be used as needed.
In summer 2021, we had four live-in tutors with families in the Hamptons.
To ensure it’s a positive experience for everyone, a student must work with us for at least a year before we’ll consider a live-in arrangement.
While it’s hard work, working as a tutor in the Hamptons certainly has its perks. Live-in tutors often have a more flexible schedule, can study vocabulary cards poolside, or work out at the home gym alongside their student in between lessons. There are also some major perks such as being flown in by helicopter, luxurious accommodations, daily chef-prepared meals, and access to cars and drivers.
One family even hired a tennis coach for their tutor, and another attended a crypto billionaire’s private bash in Amagansett where Miley Cyrus performed.
Parents are thrilled to have us around, encouraging and motivating their children to do their best work so they don’t have to be the ones doing it all the time.
Over the years, I’ve learned when to say no, even if it will disappoint the parents.
I’ve turned down a parent’s offer to buy out all our time so no one in their child’s grade could hire us. I’ve also said no to another one who wanted three tutors for one child in case any of them got COVID.
One parent wanted us to tutor their child for four hours a day, five days a week, which I flat out refused, explaining it would be both mentally and physically draining and likely cause the child to suffer from burnout.
I also refuse to work with any families that micro-manage our process. I talk to 300 parents a week and everyone says their child is the smartest, their teachers are unfair, and they swear they aren’t helicopter parents. I can always tell who’s telling the truth.
$US85,000 ($AU117,773) a year might seem like a lot, but the families we work with spend $US250,000 ($AU346,391) to maintain their boat for a single season, so investing in their children’s future for a fraction of that cost, for them, is really a no-brainer.
This article originally published August 29, 2021.