This week we have a special guest blog post from Patrick Arevalo, the Peer Tutoring Coordinator for the University of Manitoba’s Student Union. Patrick was responsible for launching the campus-wide tutoring service for UMSU and not only set up the program and hired the tutors, but also marketed it to the student body.
Patrick found that the most effective advertisement strategy for the tutoring program was sending email blasts to the student listserv during midterm and final exam season, rather than relying on posters, TV spots, or social media advertisements.
Patrick also used Nimbus’s booking and payment system to hit the ground running, and made a few tweaks to the system to allow a more personalized, hands-on management style.
I held the position as UMSU’s Peer Tutoring Coordinator from October 2018 until May 2020. Before I took on this role, the University of Manitoba did not have any tutoring services that offered campus-wide courses; certain faculties only ran volunteer-based peer tutoring for courses in that same faculty. The UMSU Peer Tutoring Program, therefore, was envisioned to be a campus-wide, course-specific tutoring service that allows peer tutors to be incentivized for providing top-quality tutoring while remaining relatively affordable for students that benefit from the program.
Establishing a system that meets these requirements was not going to be an easy task in the administrative level. With Nimbus’ help, we had a head start in how the payment and booking system works – students can search up the course they need help on in the app, and if they see a tutor they want to book, they can do it themselves. This process relieved much of the stress I would have when it comes to peer tutor and student pairing, allowing myself to focus on other administrative tasks.
However, a few things still needed tweaking in order for Nimbus to fit UMSU’s needs. One particular feature is the tutor application process. The app originally allows tutors to apply directly to the program using the app, but I asked this to be removed so that tutors can apply by e-mailing me directly. This is because I wanted to have a more hands-on approach when it came to tutor application and interviews just so that I get to meet them in person, as well as vet them in the standard that I expect them to uphold when they become approved tutors in the program. This also allows them an opportunity to clear up any questions they may have about the Peer Tutoring Program.
When the program launched in Winter 2019, the next biggest hurdle we faced was trying to promote this service to a campus of 25,000 students in different buildings and campuses. Posters, social media advertisements, and campus TV advertisements only resulted to limited awareness. The most effective advertisement strategy that we found was utilizing the student union’s e-mail blasts to students as long as we properly time it around midterm and finals season. The first month of launch also revolved largely around bug fixes and quality-of-life improvements when using the app, but we started to see the potential of the program under the Nimbus App.
The second year of my term focused on program awareness and building user trust, and with the help of the VP Student Life and my Services Manager at the time, we saw significant improvements from the first year in terms of awareness, usage and trust. Working as the Peer Tutoring Coordinator ultimately made me see the importance of a tutoring service that not only exists as a service that students can use, but also one that strives to integrate itself in the campus community as something that students can repeatedly rely on throughout their undergraduate career, and perhaps one day give back to by becoming a tutor.
Keeping up with the demand for your tutoring program can be difficult – Nimbus can help. With our help, program administrators reduce their workload by 52%, which has allowed 60% of our partners to expand current or add new student success programs. Our dedicated team can help inform you (and your student interns) on where to focus your marketing efforts, and can even provide custom materials and strategies to ensure your program success.