Smarthinking Reviews | Glassdoor

Smarthinking Reviews

Updated March 2, 2019
61 reviews

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2.7
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Christa Ehmann Powers, Ph.D
15 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • "I got to work from home doing something that I knew how to do" (in 23 reviews)

  • "Amazing work life balance, flexible hours, ability to travel, fantastic benefits, involved upper management" (in 13 reviews)

Cons
  • "Only 30 minutes to review a paper that includes three lessons in addition to three embedded comments" (in 26 reviews)

  • "Low pay considering the degree requirements" (in 9 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "A Great Job in Education"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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 part-time

    Pros

    This job is awesome because it allows professional tutors who are passionate about writing and English to help students improve in a dynamic atmosphere. This is a very solid company with academic integrity and ideals. The Writing Team is very respectful and helpful to students and tutors. Hours are flex and there are often opportunities to add hours. Live sessions are scheduled and they offer students and tutors the opportunity to connect one on one. There are opportunities for advancement.

    Cons

    The cons are that it is not full-time, but that could be a pro depending on your situation, like if you have other commitments and need something part time.

    Advice to Management

    Thank you for being awesome and respectful and empathetic and smart!


  2. Helpful (2)

    "Constant time pressure - demoralizing audits"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    The Smarthinking training for writing tutors is thorough. The feedback formula that writing tutors must use is honestly helpful to the students. Definitely, their pedagogy follows the latest ideas about how to help adult writing students by focusing on higher level concerns first. At the beginning of every session, you are required to tell students what they did right in their essay, and that encourages the students to engage with the feedback that follows.

    In addition, the online training that comes through Pearson (Smarthinking is a Pearson company) is very interesting. I learned a lot about internet security and avoiding phishing scams, for instance. They pay you for completing all of the training. I feel that being trained as a Smarthinking writing tutor helped me to respond to other people's writing in other situations.

    Cons

    The biggest drawback to being an online writing tutor for Smarthinking is the massive pressure to respond to student essays very quickly, in 35 minutes or less. While my immediate supervisor was encouraging, I found the feedback from the periodic audits to be extremely demoralizing. I tried my best to follow the Smarthinking formula, yet I felt like I was repeatedly shot down for going a few minutes over time, or for missing some minor point of their rigorous tutoring protocol.

    As a writing tutor, you have to read and write very fast, almost faster than humanly possible. For this job, I needed to purchase a timer with an audible alarm. I also used macros in Microsoft Word. Since some parts of the feedback process are not yet automated, the tutor must manually do certain things that take up time, for instance, type a sentence of greeting and a personal closing on every essay. Dictation is probably the only way that tutors can keep up the pace. Even though I felt good about the writing help I gave to students, the stress level was very high.

    Smarthinking also has a visual accessibility problem. Everything a tutor writes must be in a particular, small font (9pt Verdana). If that font is too tiny to read comfortably, then you must spend time converting it back and forth. Although I used a Word macro for this, you still have to make sure that your feedback as a tutor is visually distinguishable from the student's writing.

    In addition, writing tutors must develop their own set of original examples to copy-and-paste into the instructional section. Smarthinking stresses that this must be original — can't be taken from anywhere else. My personal crib sheet, which I wrote for this job, was 63 pages long. I spent a few minutes between essays to update and bookmark this for use in future essays. However, the last time I was audited, the audit team told me I was being "too formulaic." There's really no way to win. You can do your best to follow the rules and provide good feedback for the students, yet still get shot down.

    One would hope that Smarthinking would eventually treat the tutors as well as they do the students. However, they charge colleges by the time used, so it's unlikely that this time pressure will change. It's their billing system that drives the tutoring stress. If you can read extraordinarily fast, think fast, and write quickly, using Word macros and a bookmarked cribsheet that you write yourself, you can possibly succeed in this job. I started at $10/hour.

    Advice to Management

    Management needs to ease up on the stress that writing tutors face. Audits should look at the quality of feedback given to students, not prioritize time spent. The chat program that tutors are supposed to have open during sessions is simply a worthless memory hog and should be retired.

    Management needs to think about visual accessibility. A 9-point font does not work for everybody. You also need to allow tutors to print ALL of the training manuals as needed. It is impossible for tutors with good intentions to keep up with minor changes in a mammoth document that is in View Only mode on Google Drive.

  3. Helpful (1)

    "Pros and cons"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Writing Tutor
    Current Employee - Writing Tutor

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

    Pros

    Work from home, flexible hours, understanding management

    Cons

    It's really sort of a soul-sucking job. Essays are supposed to be "tutored" in 30-minute increments, which is often just impossible. A 15-page essay with no thesis, no organization, and no content development can't be corrected in 30 minutes. It just can't. Additionally, there's really no incentive to work harder or stay with the company long-term. Pay is - truthfully - embarrassing. It's a decent job to earn Christmas money, but after a couple of years of it, I'm desperate to find another way to earn fun money.

    Advice to Management

    Pay raise. You want qualified people, but you're asking doctoral level people to work for $13 an hour. It's really quite insulting.


  4. "30 Minutes Not Enough"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Writing Tutor in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Writing Tutor in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    You get to work from home and do something you love.

    Cons

    Crazy expectations and confusing training. How can I pick one thing to concentrate on in an essay, but write about three things? I do not have a Phd in English to be insulted by a lead tutor.

    Advice to Management

    Go through your training and see how contradictory it is. You cannot make something "subjective" then detail how the advice is wrong.


  5. "DumbThinking"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Tutor in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Tutor in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Work from home and flexible schedule.

    Cons

    Unrealistic expectations.
    No stability.
    Low pay considering the degree requirements.
    Micromanaging
    No benefits for part-time workers.
    No incentives.

    Advice to Management

    Be nice to your tutors. They are the core base of your business. Pay a decent salary.


  6. "Solid work-from-anywhere opportunity"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Online Tutor
    Current Employee - Online Tutor
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Smarthinking part-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Legitimate work-from-home job
    Flexible hours, part-time
    Interaction with students from all over the world
    Engaging work
    Opportunities to work on various tutoring platforms

    Cons

    Pay could always be better

    Advice to Management

    Keep emphasis on quality, student-focused tutoring


  7. Helpful (4)

    "$12 an hour and no raise? Really?"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Academic Tutor in Boston, MA
    Former Employee - Academic Tutor in Boston, MA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    I got to work from home doing something that I knew how to do. The company figured out how to create a platform that offers a great service.

    Cons

    I cannot believe that after several years of employment at $12 an hour, when I asked if there was a possibility of earning a raise in the future, the answer was "no." What kind of employer never offers a raise to its dedicated employees?

    Advice to Management

    You need to build in opportunities for raises and general advancement for the tutors who do the work that is crucial to your service. Anything else is sheer exploitation.

  8. Helpful (3)

    "Smarthinking Online Employement."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Writing Tutors in Gainesville, FL
    Current Employee - Writing Tutors in Gainesville, FL
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Smarthinking part-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Work online from home to help people improve their writing and learn new writing skills along the way.

    Cons

    Only 30 minutes to review a paper that includes three lessons in addition to three embedded comments. Does not allow tutors any creative approach. tutors are held to their lead tutor's strict and quirky feedback. No matter what, the lead tutors are NEVER held responsible. they can say what they want in their feedback and management and supervisors will ALWAYS take their side. Who stands up for the tutors? The tutor. You go in alone and will be alone. Pay is low and there is little to no opportunity for advancement in the organization.

    Advice to Management

    Address the issues I mentioned in the Con's section.


  9. Helpful (2)

    "It's okay"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

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

    Pros

    -Work from home
    -Flexible hours
    -They share the nice things students say about you with you every now and then, which is nice

    Cons

    -Relatively low pay for the education level they require
    -30 minutes to review an essay (okay for essays less than 4 pages, but after that it gets more difficult to stick to the time frame
    -Lead tutors check up on you and review your work quite often (last semester, my lead tutor checked up on me constantly; the one I have this semester is much more laid back)


  10. Helpful (9)

    "Unrealistic expectations"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Writing Tutor
    Current Employee - Writing Tutor
    Doesn't Recommend

    I have been working at Smarthinking part-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Flexible hours, work from home.
    This service is run by a major text book publishing company that is highly concerned about creating a safe, inclusive environments .

    Cons

    The expectations are absurd. Essays can range anywhere from first year college students composition papers, ESL papers, business reports, and resumes to PhD dissertation chapters. The tutor must create three original, personalized lessons for each paper in 30 minutes, even if the paper is over 20 pages and the subject matter is not even close to the tutor's field of study (such as nursing graduate papers or resumes for business majors). The essays are downloaded by the students, and the tutor has no idea what type of essay will appear or if the student includes any type of assignment instructions.
     Lead tutors always look for something wrong in the tutor's response and never, ever give high ratings for a tutor's work.
    If the tutor has a Ph,D. (and many do), they get a whopping $12/h. Those with masters degrees get $10. These rates are lower than what fast food workers make, and high expertise in writing, grammar, style, and career advice is required. Then the tutor's hard work and expertise is continuously bashed during reviews.

    Advice to Management

    Allow the tutor to have more time to tutor an essay. Ease up on the negative, nit-picky criticism...writing a Ph.D. dissertation is much less stressful than writing up tutorial lessons.
    Pay more competitive rates.