A group of metro-Atlanta students has started an online tutoring program for students, by students.

Cambridge High School sophomore Samantha Schaich started Study Buds as a way to help other local students who were struggling financially and academically. Schaich was in the process of starting her own tutoring website, but realized she wanted to expand to help more students.

“I know that learning virtually can be really tough for a lot of people, and I wanted to help pair struggling students in my community with tutors that wanted to help,” Schaich said. “Virtual school is a whole new world that everyone is trying to adapt to, and I wanted to offer some assistance.”

Schaich said she reached out to some friends and posted on social media to find students who may be interested in tutoring. Of more than 30 students who applied, Schaich narrowed it down to 11 students who are all Advanced Placement, honors and/or have tutoring experience.

With 11 tutors, Study Buds can take on 30 to 40 sessions each week. Study Buds offers tutoring in math, language arts, science, social studies, Spanish, French, Latin and computer science. Tutoring is open to all students in Fulton and surrounding counties.

“The layout of our tutoring sessions is unique to each student and each tutor,” Schaich said. “Our tutors make their own lesson plans that they tailor specifically to the student’s needs, age, academic level, etc. We find that this is better than a strict lesson plan that is only catered to one type of student.”

Sessions are completely virtual and designed to help students acclimate to virtual learning. Fulton County Schools decided to go virtual in July after seeing a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. An additional 7,400 devices were purchased to help students and staff members work remotely. According to the county, students who were eligible for free and reduced lunches could also received internet hotspots. For now, students are learning remotely, but the school system plans to return to face-to-face instruction in phases beginning Sept. 8.

“Having virtual sessions will help students practice staying focused and learning through a screen,” Schaich said. “After a while, the hope is that the students no longer need our service because they’re so much better acclimated to virtual tutoring.”

“Student-tutors know what it’s like to not understand things and the frustration that comes with that,” Schaich said. “I feel like they’re so helpful because they know what it’s like to be in the student’s shoes and know how to help.”

To sign up for tutoring, families can do it online at https://www.thestudybuds.com/. Families can go to the bookings page, where they can see all of Study Buds’ tutors’ availability and pick a time slot. They can also ask to be paired with a tutor if they do not have a specific preference. Immediately after booking, a zoom link is sent to their email.

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