“Uber [or Airbnb] for Private Tutors”—I’d sign up

Tyler Cowen suggests “Uber for Private Tutors,” which sounds like a great idea, but I’m not sure Uber is the right comparison group. Rather, the better comparison is to Airbnb: I’d want to be the penthouse of tutors, so to speak, and charge appropriate superstar fees. The best tutors are probably worth orders of magnitude more than average tutors.

Uber by contrast dictates fees to drivers, which drivers can take or leave. I’d rather see the opportunity for markets to decide how much I’m worth. Rides are also probably more similar to each other than tutors are to each other, so Airbnb is the comparison choice I prefer. One could also begin to imagine a combination of MOOCs, things like Coursera, tutor matching, and the like nibbling away at the current school experience.

I have the academic credentials and experience necessary to sign up for Airbnb for private tutors, and I live in New York City, which probably has a lot of pent-up demand for tutors-on-demand. I’m working as an adjunct professor at Marymount Manhattan College, and while I enjoy and appreciate the work it isn’t hard for me to imagine a better-paid situation arising. Uber for private tutors could supplement the large, existing adjunct workforce or even supplant some people who are currently adjuncting.

That being said it isn’t clear to me that people hiring tutors would care about credentials so much as they’d care about personality, though maybe both are important.

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