If you have never used ST during college for help with writing, chances are this is not something you need to do--work as an online tutor. Their training methods emphasize direct imperative and declarative statements, thus contradicting the philosophy of student-centeredness. Tutors are taught or encouraged to behave rigidly; using the direct phrasing approach is always summed up in terms of what you NEED to do. So its nothing like the Carl Rogers philosophy in education, emphasizing choice and creative naturalistic tutoring techniques. On the contrary, it is highly formulaic, which would seem fine except that this permeates the dialogue between tutors, actually encouraging nerdist, shallow, smug, even narrow and intolerant thinking styles.
I have tutored for many years, and published successfully, as well as graduated with honors from a masters degree program, but I have never met such crudely contentious, hypercritical co-workers. The lead tutors will bait you with pretend friendliness at the beginning, lathering you up with talk about their qualifications and experience. Even a reasonably good tutorial session, however will meet with flippant remarks, over-commenting, and in short, harangues. For instance, I received a three paragraph harangue about the futility of preparing a Tutoring Template (suggested in the Tutor Manual to help save time). Believe me, reviewing papers and tutoring online, the half-hour pay allotted for reviewing ONE essay whizzes by quickly, especially if you cannot address the tutee's errors directly, only by example, as required. You have to invent examples, explain why they need to revise, how to revise, and encourage revision in at least three areas, so this is why templates help. The lead tutor also picked a bone with me about another tidbit that directly contradicted the Tutor Handbook, but again, this was cleverly cloaked using complex directive remarks, making her sound very authoritative and believable, when in fact she was working off the cuff. Ironically, there was precious little demonstration of that encouragement and support we ourselves are supposed to demonstrate with the tutees.
In fact, Smarthinking / Pearson Educations corporate culture impressed me with how little room there is for open, liberal-minded intellectual communication and culture. A culture that is filled with lead tutors who are contentious, hypercritical, and friendly as sharks basically serve as models for close-minded conformism. Indeed, this is emphasized by the superfluous corporate junk mail which tutors are flooded with; whether it is hearing certain values promoted by conference advertisements headed by professional politicians; encouragement to invest wisely in stock portfolios, or what not. The tutors are made to feel like they are at the bottom of a steep pyramid to which they might aspire to only by eliminating their own competition, so to speak. Add to this that most at the bottom of the base are painfully aware that each essay is only paid $5-6 per tutor review time. And that the work will always only be part-time, no matter how well qualified you may be.
Of course there are other ways to reach the top, but that is not their view of things. It is very disappointing that the lead tutors are in charge of creating such stultifying anti-intellectual anti-liberating environments, stand at the very gateways to higher educational opportunities, enforcing their diminutive sense of authority via long distance mind games. It is even more disappointing that successful Smarthinking Tutors learn that these types of instructional styles are acceptable, become suffused with the langue of the corporation, as reinforced by their most nerdy narcissistic lead tutors. Sadly, respect seems to be so much of an issue among tutors who claim to have earned masters degrees, mostly in the liberal arts, that they treat their academic co-equals with veiled disdain, and exact other forms of sophisticated torment. In sum, I am inclined to disbelieve these tutors are anywhere near as qualified as they say they are, because if they were, they should certainly be filled more with altruism than the smarts they deliver among themselves.