Katerina Barnes was two weeks into her freshman year at New York University when she began to feel anxious and overwhelmed. There was so much to do: navigate a new city, register for classes, find classrooms, buy books.
So she called her mother, Melanie, who got in touch with Becky Fliss, her daughter’s tutor of six years. “I knew she’d be able to handle it,” said Ms. Barnes, the chief executive of Texas Climate and Carbon Exchange in Austin, Tex.
Ms. Fliss, who runs the Austin Learning Center, a tutoring agency, immediately tracked down Tessa Borbridge of Big Apple Tutoring in Manhattan. Ms. Borbridge spent about 30 hours helping Ms. Barnes manage her schedule, pick classes and generally feel more comfortable in her new life.
“Tessa’s been a huge help all around,” said the younger Ms. Barnes, 18, a media, culture and communications major who’s also on the varsity volleyball team. “Not only have I been able to talk with her about academics, but also any issues I’m having with social stuff, teachers or family. It’s really comforting that I can go to her for anything.” They are in touch daily by phone or e-mail, and work together in person anywhere from 15 to 22 hours a week.
Ms. Barnes is one of a growing number of young people for whom the tutor is no longer only study buddy or homework helper, but also a source of general life support. In households where money is not an issue, the tutor’s role is expanding beyond academics to counselor, mentor and personal cheerleader, as well as liaison among students, parents and schools. Think Maria von Trapp, without the singing. <Read more.>