Gaining experience through peer tutoring


Alyssa Wu, who is among the students who take it upon themselves to tutor others, provides assistance to a peer in need.

Although Diamond Bar High School offers juniors and seniors taking higher level classes the opportunity to make some quick cash through tutoring, ever since the pandemic, the amount of paid student tutors has been on the decline.

The paid tutoring program at DBHS has been in use for over 16 years; it was established by previous grade level coordinator teams at DBHS so that a list of available student tutors would always be ready for those who were interested.

“We ask students who have been successful in their classes, like if they’ve gotten an A or a B, or if they feel like they’ve mastered the material, then they can sign up for a subject they like,” grade level coordinator Sonja Burns said. “I will have some tenth graders that will reach out to me, but we typically don’t go to those classes.”

Generally, tutors are recommended to use the school as a meeting location if their students are from DBHS, or to find a public location if they aren’t. But, due to the increase in use of video calling platforms over the pandemic, resources like Zoom and Google Meets have become a more popular option.

“The opportunity to tutor through Zoom [and] Google Meets, is something that is new for us,” Burns said. “In the years past, a lot of students would say ‘I don’t drive, so it’s going to be really hard for me to meet up with people,’ so I think this is more accessible.”

Although tutors can now meet their students in a variety of different ways, the amount of tutors who signed up for this year’s term has notably decreased since the start of the pandemic.

In fact, during the pandemic, the high school tutoring list was home to just 33 names, all who had signed up in prior years, as the GLCs could not advertise the program to various classes. This year, the school tutoring list consists of only about 190 potential tutors.

However, previous years such as the 2019-2020 school year saw 260 students signing up to tutor fellow high school students. During the 2018-2019 school year, a whopping 300 brahmas ended up on the high school tutor list.

Though the video calling platforms popularized through common use over the pandemic may be more accessible, student opinions are divided regarding digital tutoring sessions. Seniors Maggie Cheung and Serena Shih both say they prefer online tutoring sessions because of the convenience of the virtual applications they use.

“On Zoom there’s some features I can take advantage of, like annotation and share screen,” Shih said via email. “Personally I feel more relaxed and don’t have to worry about transportation if I teach on Zoom.”

However, senior Alyssa Wu, who tutors in AP Calculus BC and AP Chemistry, said she favors in-person tutoring to online tutoring since it works better with her schedule.

“The person who I’m tutoring is pretty fine with Zoom—actually, she suggested it at first,” Wu said. “I usually get home a little bit late, and because I have a lot of homework to do, I let her know that maybe it was a little more convenient to use my free sixth period.”

Junior Audrey Pitallano, who has two students and tutors in violin and Modern World History, also would rather tutor her students in person because she said that she feels tutoring through Zoom feels impersonal.

“Especially with the violin, you can’t see someone struggling so it’s really inconvenient. It’s like only based on what you can hear so it doesn’t really help someone,” Pitallano said via Instagram.

Pitallano, who charges $10-$15 dollars an hour and usually holds her tutoring sessions on campus or a nearby location, said she was originally thinking about not tutoring due to the pandemic.

“Most people do tutoring at someone’s house and that’s asking to get sick,” Pitallano said.