Sylvan Learning Vs. Varsity Tutors: Comparing Tutoring Services

With the rise of online learning, tutoring services have also gone digital. Two of the biggest names in tutoring today are Sylvan Learning and Varsity Tutors.

But how do these popular tutoring services compare when it comes to features, effectiveness, and pricing? This comprehensive guide examines the pros and cons of both Sylvan Learning and Varsity Tutors to help you determine which may be the better fit for your needs.

A Brief Comparison Table

AspectsSylvan LearningVarsity Tutors
Tutoring ApproachStructured, diagnostic, personalized plansOn-demand, flexible sessions
Learning FormatIn-person and online sessions100% online platform
Tutor ExpertiseTraining in teaching methodsAcademic and subject matter experts
Scheduling and AvailabilityConsistent weekly time slotsSchedule anytime 24/7
Customization and FeedbackAssessments, focused skill building, progress trackingEasily switch subjects and tutors, session notes
Price and Payment Plans$50-$100 per hour average. Packages available.Starts around $40 per hour. Monthly packages available.

Overview Of Sylvan Learning

Sylvan Learning is a nationwide tutoring service that was founded in 1979. They offer both in-person and online tutoring programs for K-12 students in subjects like math, reading, writing, study skills, and test prep for standardized exams. Sylvan operates over 700 learning centers across the United States and Canada.

Some key features and benefits of Sylvan Learning include:

Sylvan Learning
Sylvan Learning
  • Customized tutoring plans based on a skills assessment
  • Use of their proprietary teaching methods and curriculum
  • Highly trained tutors with bachelor’s degrees and teaching experience
  • Flexible schedule with sessions held after school and on weekends
  • In-person 1-on-1 or small group sessions at local centers
  • Online tutoring options available as well
  • Parent portal for progress monitoring and feedback

Sylvan takes a diagnostic approach to tutoring. Students are given a skills assessment at the start of the program which identifies their academic strengths and weaknesses. A personalized plan is then created targeting the specific skills and subjects the student needs to improve.

Lessons are broken into manageable chunks with plenty of repetition to reinforce concepts. Their methods aim to boost not just skills but also confidence.

In terms of results, Sylvan reports that 90% of students meet or exceed their academic goals within 36 hours of tutoring. The structured, personalized programs can provide the accountability and motivation some students need to tackle their toughest subjects and develop stronger learning habits.

Overview Of Varsity Tutors

Varsity Tutors takes a technology-driven approach to online tutoring. Since it was founded in 2007, the platform has provided on-demand individual and small group tutoring sessions in more than 3,000 subjects. Unlike Sylvan, Varsity Tutors does not operate any physical locations. All tutoring is done virtually in online sessions or through their mobile app.

Some benefits and features of Varsity Tutors include:

Varsity Tutors
Varsity Tutors
  • On-demand tutoring available 24/7
  • Large tutor network with experts in 3,000+ subjects
  • 1-on-1 and small group sessions available
  • Flexible packages from single sessions to monthly plans
  • Specialized programs for test prep (SAT, ACT, etc)
  • Tools for self-study like flashcards and Practice Tests
  • Mobile app allows for tutoring on the go
  • Lesson notes provided after every session
  • Cheaper prices compared to Sylvan on average

Varsity Tutors gives students more flexibility in scheduling. You can book a one-off session on-demand or set up recurring sessions on your own timetable. The platform makes it easy to switch subjects or tutors at any time as well. Their large tutor network allows students to get matched with an expert on even niche academic or test prep topics.

The on-demand model offers convenience, but some may find the Sylvan approach of an ongoing, customized learning plan more effective for mastering challenging subjects. Varsity Tutors gives students more control over the tutoring experience though.

Also Read: Comparison Between C2 Education And Kumon

Comparing Sylvan Learning And Varsity Tutors:

  • Tutoring Approach

Sylvan takes a structured, diagnostic approach with an individualized program mapped to a student’s skills gaps. Ongoing weekly sessions emphasizes repetition and aims to boost academics and confidence over time.

Varsity Tutors offers greater flexibility with on-demand tutoring. Students can book single sessions as needed across a wide range of subjects. The focus is on convenience and subject-matter expertise.

  • Learning Format

Sylvan specializes in face-to-face tutoring at local learning centers. Online sessions are available as well. The combination of physical locations and personalized plans can help motivate some students.

Varsity Tutors provides all tutoring online through its platform. The virtual format allows students to get help anywhere via computer or mobile app. No commuting to a physical center is required.

  • Tutor Expertise

Sylvan tutors must have bachelor’s degrees and classroom teaching experience. Their training focuses on learning fundamentals and Sylvan’s proprietary methods. The focus is depth of experience over breadth of knowledge.

Varsity Tutors sources tutors from universities across the country. Backgrounds range from teaching to PhD-level expertise. Their network prioritizes subject matter knowledge across 3,000+ topics.

  • Scheduling and Availability

Sylvan tutoring sessions take place after school and on weekends. Consistent weekly time slots are scheduled. Make-up sessions for conflicts are available.

Varsity Tutors offers on-demand scheduling 24/7. Sessions can be booked single or recurring with any tutor fitting your subject, timeslot, and price needs.

  • Customization and Feedback

Sylvan assessments identify student skill gaps. A program targets weaknesses with drills and repetition. Ongoing feedback to parents and teachers tracks progress.

Varsity Tutors allows students to easily switch subjects or tutors at any time. Post-session notes provide feedback. Less ongoing progress monitoring is provided.

Also Read: Comparison Between Kumon And Huntington Learning Center.

  • Price and Payment Plans

Sylvan costs between $50-$100 per hour session on average. Packages and monthly payment plans are available to lower hourly rates for ongoing tutoring.

Varsity Tutors starts around $40 per hour. Packages of 5, 10, or 30 hours are available for bulk discounts. No long-term commitments are required.

Based on these factors, Sylvan Learning may appeal more to students who would benefit from the structure, motivation, and progress tracking provided by their personalized tutoring programs. Parents investing for the long-term may see better results from Sylvan’s approach.

Varsity Tutors offers more flexibility and on-demand access to subject matter experts. The virtual format provides convenience to students looking to supplement specific weaknesses. The month-to-month plans keep costs lower as well.

In summary, Sylvan Learning focuses on comprehensively developing skills over time while Varsity Tutors provides quick, affordable access to experts in thousands of subjects.

Pros And Cons Of Sylvan Learning


  • Research-based teaching methods proven effective for 40+ years
  • Assessments identify skill gaps needing improvement
  • Customized programs target student weaknesses
  • Physical locations provide motivation for some students
  • Ongoing feedback to parents on progress
  • Structured approach can boost academics and confidence


  • Requires commute to learning centers for in-person sessions
  • Less flexibility in scheduling and subjects covered
  • Monthly commitments and packages can get expensive
  • Mixed reviews on tutors engaging students’ interest

Pros And Cons Of Varsity Tutors


  • Tutoring available on-demand 24/7
  • Large tutor network experienced in 3,000+ subjects
  • Easy to switch subjects or tutors at any time
  • Virtual platform provides flexibility and access
  • Packages cost less than Sylvan on average
  • No long-term commitments required


  • Less structure and customized learning plans
  • Progress monitoring not as hands-on
  • Virtual-only may not work as well for some students
  • Spotty customer support at times

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is tutoring with Varsity Tutors worth it?

Varsity Tutors is worth considering for students who want convenient, affordable access to subject matter experts on-demand. The platform makes it easy to get tutoring 24/7 across a wide range of topics. Its virtual model also provides flexibility. Varsity Tutors may not be the right fit for students needing more structure, customization, and long-term skill development.

Is Sylvan worth it?

For students who respond well to face-to-face instruction and personalized learning plans, Sylvan’s tutoring programs can be worth the higher costs. Their approach aims to build academic skills and confidence over time. If your child needs the accountability and motivation of ongoing tutoring at a physical location, Sylvan may provide results.

Which is better Varsity Tutors or Wyzant?

Both Varsity Tutors and Wyzant connect students to vetted, expert tutors online. Key differences are that Wyzant has no packages so you must pay per hour, while Varsity Tutors offers packages for bulk discounts. Wyzant also focuses just on online 1-on-1 sessions, while Varsity offers small group options. For on-demand flexibility, Varsity Tutors may be preferable. But Wyzant is worth considering if you want transparent hourly pricing.

Which is better Sylvan Vs. Mathnasium?

Both Sylvan and Mathnasium provide in-person tutoring with customized learning plans. Mathnasium specializes in math instruction, while Sylvan covers all core subjects. Sylvan offers a wider range of services including testing, writing instruction, and study skills. But for math help, Mathnasium’s expertise and game-based approach appeals to many students. Consider subject matter breadth Vs. depth.

Also Read: Comparison Between Lillypost And Bookroo.

Summary: Key Points To Consider

  • Sylvan Learning provides structured, personalized tutoring plans while Varsity Tutors offers greater flexibility and access to experts in 3,000+ topics.
  • Sylvan specializes in ongoing academic development while Varsity enables convenient, affordable tutoring on-demand.
  • In-person tutoring at Sylvan can provide motivation but requires commuting, while Varsity’s virtual platform allows sessions anywhere.
  • Sylvan’s more customized approach includes progress feedback to parents while Varsity Tutors gives students control over switching topics and tutors.
  • Upfront costs are higher with Sylvan although their packages can offer savings long-term compared to Varsity’s pay-as-you-go model.

The “best” choice depends on your student’s learning needs and preferred format. Assess whether an ongoing, skills-building approach or topical, as-needed sessions will better support your child’s growth and confidence.

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