Smriti Mehrotra

Cannon Contributor

The A+ Education group is “an educational institute” that offers tutoring services for first year core eight engineering and Rotman Commerce students. Throughout this semester, you’ve probably gotten Facebook notifications about the A+ Education group. They advertise their sessions and services by posting bios of their instructors or information posters about review sessions and early bird discounts. Yup, you heard it right. Of course these are paid services, and they don’t come cheap either. According to one of their latest postings, an “early bird” discounted price is equivalent to $60.

Their list of services include 6 hours of review, a review package, a group chat, office hours, and “personalised” mentorship. Two of these services, namely office hours and review, are offered by profs in every course I’ve taken so far. Also, am I the only one who thinks it’s strange to include a group chat in their cost? It seems that the only additional services provided by the group are personalised mentorship and a review package. I got in touch with a few first years about their review packages, and it turns out that these packages are a compilation of some of the most challenging questions the prof could throw at you in an exam. However, I also heard from students that when they ask their regular course TAs’ questions about the review packages, some TAs’ dismissed them for being too hard. The fact that the students had to approach their course TA’s for help on the A+ paid tutoring services is pretty ironic. I haven’t been able to get reviews on the personalised mentorship, so let’s assume that this service is effective and helpful. Regardless, that’s also something any junior can get from messaging a senior on Facebook and asking them for advice. I’ve been doing it for the last three years, and thankfully have not had to pay $60 for it.

Perhaps we’re being too critical about the group. I’ve known friends who were excited to join the group as tutors, and that’s a sign that at least the instructors at A+ are enthusiastic about their roles. Coming from a high school education that stressed on the importance of after-school tutorial classes, especially for competitive exams, I understand the need for providing these services. It would make sense that students would work better with the additional support. They are assured of constant help and feedback that some TA’s and profs don’t fully provide. Let’s not forget the fact that their instructors are second year or third year students themselves, who have recently passed said courses with stellar marks and know the course from a student’s perspective very well. I’ve known TA’s who are PhD students, and because of their expertise,  sometimes skip over information that may seem obvious to them, but not to the students. This kind of oversight seems to be less likely to happen with the instructors at A+.

So we’ve concluded that joining A+ could potentially give you additional support for a course or two, but let’s address what the goal of A+ Education is. As stated on their Facebook and information pages, their goal is to “light up university life”. Wow. That’s promising a lot. They state that their mission is to make university life easier, but given that their original promise is getting you a 4.0 in your course, I don’t see how they can claim to make life itself easier. There’s a lot more to life than grades and exams.  

According to their logic, they’re implying that getting 4.0’s is directly proportional to the happiness you can experience inside and outside of university. This contradicts the countless upper years and profs who have told me that while grades do matter, they don’t define you. You should not obsess over getting a 4.0, because the results of your work are just a by-product of the amazing journey you will experience to get to the end of a semester. 

What A+ may be trying to say is that by joining their tutoring classes, students would be encouraged to aim high and work to meet their expectations. If that’s their message, then they should consider being a little less cryptic about it and reconsider their advertising methods.

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