Looking at Tutors as an Investment

Paul Sullivan:

WITH only a few weeks left until school starts, the tutoring business is gearing up. And it is one industry in America that seems immune to recession. More parents are paying for tutors for their children.
Spending on tutors is growing at more than 5 percent a year, said Steve Pines, executive director of the Education Industry Association. This is down from yearly growth of 8 to 10 percent in 2007, when the education research firm EduVentures estimated the size of the tutoring industry at $5 billion to $7 billion a year. But it is still strong, given the state of most people’s personal finances. And Sandi Ayaz, executive director of the National Tutoring Association, said the number of tutors her organization had certified had grown 18 percent in each of the last five years.
While tutors once focused on helping children who were falling behind in particular subjects or had a learning disability, they are now being used far more to guide students through particularly tough courses, insure their grades are equal to or above their peers’ and, in the end, polish a child’s college application. This costs parents a lot of money, and the question is, What returns should they expect for their investment? And how does that desire mesh with what is right?