Smarthinking Reviews | Glassdoor

Smarthinking Reviews

Updated December 12, 2016
43 reviews

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Full-time Part-time

2.6
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Christa Ehmann Powers, Ph.D
10 Ratings

43 Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (1)

    "Writing Tutor Position"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    I really loved working as a tutor, however, I had to leave due my own need for full-time work.

    What this tutoring position is like:

    This is a great at-home position with a terrific company. It allows for a flexible schedule in your day to complete your essay reviews and pay is pretty good for at home, however, if you are expecting college-level pay per hour it does not measure up to that pay scale. Typically, you are reviewing academic essays, resumes, cover letters, technical documents, and creative writing submissions from students, which is low on the stress level end of things. This position is also great for entrepreneurial or independent types who do not need a lot of supervision and can still get the job done.

    Cons

    - Pay per hour for BA, MA, and PhD degrees is substantially low (ranging from $10-12/hr)..possible trade off for low stress and no commute, however, it is incredibly low for college graduates, especially those with graduate level degrees.
    - There are no pay raises.
    - Hours are not guaranteed. You may get all your hours in or they may ask you to drop hours because the work is slow. Further, when work is super busy they will ask for additional hours and you might get upwards of 30-40 hours in a week.
    - Seasonal work based on the academic calendar: Calendar runs September through December, Mid-January through Mid-May, and then a choice of early or late summer.
    - Only allowed 30 minutes to review academic submission no matter the length. So, if an essay is 10 pages or more, you not only have to read as much as you can, but you also have evaluate it and review it effectively in 30 minutes. This is not an easy task to do. If you go over the 30 minutes, Smarthinking will let you know via email if your times are not up to snuff and remind you to get it down to thirty minutes. In person tutoring for writing takes a minimum of an hour.
    - If you use a template-type review, you will be called on it. They want each review to be original, however, templates are beneficial in keeping to the 30 minute allotment.
    - If you need a lot of supervision and coddling to do your job, this is not the job for you.

    Advice to Management

    1. Change the review time to 45 minutes per submission. This will allow reviewers to give high quality reviews and not feel like they must rush through them.
    2. Allow lengthy submission (10 or more pages) to be automatically considered one hour reviews.
    3. Give pay raises to your tutors every year. People who are dedicated to working for you should be rewarded, especially considering they need a minimum of a BA degree to tutor.
    4. Open up full-time tutor positions to those who have faithfully tutored two years or more. What a great way to guarantee a high quality work ethic and consistent team members! I would have definitely stayed a tutor had I been able to work full-time for Smarthinking. I loved this job.
    5. Add in some retirement or insurance benefits to the pay.


  2. Helpful (2)

    "Not worth the aggravation"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Smarthinking part-time

    Pros

    Flexible hours. Ability to help students with writing.

    Cons

    Pearson's organization and computerized learning systems require far too many hoops to jump through. They have an assembly line mentality for churning out reviews of student work based on a "formula" that honestly requires a checklist to maintain: font sizes, x number of this/x number of that, don't give more than one issue in each area, very little time even for lengthy or complex work (30 minutes per essay) and on and on. The nitpicking is ceaseless and they want an awful lot from PhD and master's level people for $11 an hour. If you crave actual interaction with humans, this job is NOT for you. There is a total disconnect from the company, also, and very little interaction from anyone until they rate your work and nitpick things that in the real world of teaching writing don't matter. Find a better opportunity if you can.

    Advice to Management

    Stop majoring in the minors. Stop emphasizing meaningless formulas and let teachers assess and teach students per guidelines that make sense, but don't constrict the ability to teach. Increase the pay and include more interaction with tutors that includes positive feedback, not just criticism of petty things that have no bearing on the quality of teaching.


  3. Helpful (1)

    "Good Entry-Level Job"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    Pros

    Helpful Editors
    Simple Work Assignments
    Plenty of Work

    Cons

    Low Pay
    Cap on total number of hours


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  5. Helpful (2)

    "It's alright if you don't really need the job and are just looking for some extra cash."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Current Employee - Online Writing Tutor
    Current Employee - Online Writing Tutor
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Smarthinking part-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    It's alright if you don't really need the job and are just looking for some extra cash. The training is alright. You can set your own schedule.

    Cons

    Their expectations are unrealistic and my "lead tutor" is constantly bothering me because my response times are too long and because my mini-lessons don't apply the rules well enough to the writer's writing. With only 30 minutes to review 5-10+ page essays, you're supposed to be able to address three content areas (like content development, main idea / thesis, grammar & mechanics, introduction / conclusion, etc.). "Addressing" each content area includes 1) identifying the issue, 2) an explanation of how to revise the issue, and 3) showing the student how to revise using a combination of interaction with the paper's text, dialogic questions, models, and revision demonstrations. I managed to get my average response time down to about 40 minutes by re-using things I wrote for other writers for steps 1 and 2. Then, I got yelled at because using these "template" comments are not personable enough. The writer doesn't know that and the issues did all apply to each writer.

    The pay isn't that great. It's $10/hour if you have a bachelor degree, $11/ hour if you have a master degree, and $12/hour if you have a Ph.D.

    The "technical setup" part of the initial training makes no sense whatsoever. Some links don't work and most of the directions aren't right.

    Advice to Management

    Stop trying to be so controlling. Everyone's writing style, writing needs, and writing processes are very different.

    1) The TRF forms don't serve their purpose and increase response times. Get rid of those. TRUST your the tutors you hired to give quality feedback on their own on anything they (or the writer) want. Have use the comment feature in MS Word to make our own comments and suggestions. Let us put our little "mini lessons" in those comments based on what the writer says they want help on and on other things we notice. This keeps us from having to constantly scroll up and down to apply feedback (which takes time, mind you). Since you seem concerned about formatting and writers being able to open files, have us save our feedback as .pdf files and upload those for the writer to review. PDF viewers are free, so that shouldn't be a problem.

    2) The expectation that essays should be reviewed in 30 minutes is unrealistic. Change that to 45 minutes.


  6. Helpful (2)

    "Good part-time work, but tedious"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Online Writing Tutor in Chicago, IL
    Former Employee - Online Writing Tutor in Chicago, IL
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    If you're looking to make a little extra money on the side while working from home, being an online writing tutor with Smarthinking isn't a bad gig. The pay is ok (not great, but above minimum wage), the work is fairly simple, and you get to set your own schedule.

    Cons

    The job is very tedious, as you're just reading and reviewing essay after essay, and most of them are really similar, with a lot of the same issues. You have to read/review each essay in only 30 minutes, which is REALLY difficult (or it was for me), especially when these essays are 6+ pages (they say you should just read as much as you can if it's a long essay, but if a student asked for help with the conclusion, it's hard to not read the whole essay). Sometimes I would get screwed over for hours, like one semester I only got 5 hours a week for some reason, and then got an email asking for volunteers to pick up more hours. So yeah, if you're looking for a little extra money on the side and you've got an English degree, this isn't a bad job, but it can get frustrating and tedious at times.

    Advice to Management

    Relax the 30-minute review standard a little bit. If I'm giving a strong review and it's taking 40-45 minutes, isn't it more important that the review is good, rather than the length of time it took me to get there?

    Also, giving performance-based raises, or raises based on seniority would be nice. I worked as an online tutor for over 2 years, and I didn't get a raise, not even when I became one of the Live tutors.


  7. Helpful (1)

    "Not Worth It"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Former Employee - Online Writing Tutor
    Former Employee - Online Writing Tutor
    Doesn't Recommend

    Pros

    Some good students who are genuinely grateful for any help given to them to improve their writing and skills. Working from home.

    Cons

    Their platform has many glitches and will lock you out of live sessions, which then goes against you as a missed session even if it's not your fault. Management is quite condescending and talks down to you very often as if you are a child. You have 30 minutes to review an essay and them provide lengthy feedback using their overly long and wordy template, much of which does not often apply directly to a given student's work, and this creates frustration for students and tutors alike due to the time and constraints of the work. Schedules are not steady and they will often cut hours, then send out begging emails for folks to cover at the last minute when they realize there is no one to work. They will also terminate you randomly for reasons known only to them, and you won't be notified in any way, shape or form including any email. Good luck with technical support, as they are all based overseas and speak little English.

    Advice to Management

    Revamp management. Use people who actually treat co workers like colleagues instead of recalcitrant kindergarten children. Raise pay to reflect experience and background and provide raises as well as job stability for dedicated workers, rather than viewing us as expendable workers since you can always hire more. Get a better platform with less glitches and technical support who are not outsourced and can communicate in English.


  8. "Great job for an educated mama ;)"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    I choose most of my hours, and I can work around my kids' schedules. I do a variety of tasks, and I like it!

    Cons

    There aren't many; as with most jobs, I would love for pay raises to be a bit more substantial, but as far as industry standards go, they are on target.


  9. Helpful (1)

    "Great place to work"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Smarthinking full-time

    Pros

    Amazing work life balance, flexible hours, ability to travel, fantastic benefits, involved upper management.

    Cons

    No cons here - this is a great place for working moms

    Advice to Management

    Keep doing what you are doing; you are great!


  10. Helpful (8)

    "Stressful job with low pay and high expectations"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Online Writing Lab Tutor
    Former Employee - Online Writing Lab Tutor
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Smarthinking part-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    You get very flexible hours. That's about it.

    Cons

    The pay of $10-12 an hour with a college degree is insulting. In my three years there, I never saw any raise. Before I left, the bonus pay opportunities for peak times were even taken away. There are no promotional opportunities recently.

    Getting 30 minutes to read an often long essay, comment throughout, and then write up a personalized lesson is very stressful. It's even worse knowing you get only $5-6 for all the work. It became not worth it anymore since easier work that pays twice that is available elsewhere.

    Advice to Management

    Align the pay with the level of education required. Give raises like normal jobs do. Focus less on rushing tutors and more on improving the quality of the tutoring. If we're stressed out and receive insulting pay, the students suffer from poorer quality tutorials.


  11. Helpful (6)

    "Too much stress for so little pay"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Online Writing Tutor in Tucson, AZ
    Former Employee - Online Writing Tutor in Tucson, AZ
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Smarthinking part-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Work from home for a legitimate company

    Cons

    Supervisors always find fault; lots of changes to work requirements; time requirement unrealistic for quality work.

    Advice to Management

    Classify the work based on type of writing and not time.



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