Reducing no-shows for online tutoring increases tutor satisfaction, decreases unnecessary costs to schools and helps students stay on track.
Tutoring no-shows waste time, energy and money. Here’s how to reduce them.
During the pandemic, tutoring sessions that were traditionally held in person were moved online. Far away from the familiar campus surroundings, out-of-sight often turned to out-of-mind, with an increasing number of students missing their scheduled tutoring sessions. Students have good intentions when signing up for online tutoring sessions. But sometimes they get busy, something comes up or they forget, and rather than canceling or rescheduling, they “no show” their scheduled session.
At Upswing, we understand that these “abandoned sessions” are problematic for everyone involved. For the tutors, it’s a frustrating waste of time, as they typically schedule their day around tutoring sessions. For the school, it’s a costly expense, as they still have to pay the tutors. And for the students, it’s a missed opportunity to connect with a subject matter expert in an academic subject they need help with. So we set out to find solutions.
No-shows by the numbers
First, in order to address the issue of abandoned sessions, we looked at the data. Turns out that the majority of missed sessions come from new users — students who have neither completed nor abandoned a session before. But why?
Next, we reviewed the data in terms of initial scheduling — how far in advance did the students who abandoned their session actually schedule that session? Here, we learned that the farther in advance a first-time user scheduled their session, the more likely they were to abandon that session.
These findings, combined with data from a student survey, made it clear that students were simply forgetting their sessions or running into scheduling conflicts.
Turning statistics into solutions
Based on the statistical evidence, we brainstormed a variety of potential options:
- Sending an email reminder to students 24 hours before their scheduled session
- Having tutors send a personalized message to students once a session is created to establish a personal connection
- Normalizing and validating the concept of tutoring by sharing statistics about how many of the student’s peers also received tutoring
- Monitoring sessions in order to discipline repeat offenders
Each option was evaluated and dissected. Establishing a relationship between the student and the tutor, for example, required cooperation from both sides and added extra work for the tutor. And monitoring frequent no-shows for some kind of disciplinary action would convey the wrong message to students — potentially discouraging them from reaching out for tutoring help at all.
So sending a reminder 24 hours before the scheduled session was selected as the best option.
From options to outcomes
Students who scheduled tutoring sessions were randomly divided into groups for testing purposes:
- Version A had a reminder with the tutoring session information
- Version B had the same reminder but also included a “reschedule” button that led students back to the platform to cancel their original session and schedule a new one
- The control group received no email session reminder
The test ran for four months in order to capture a wide spectrum of student users. Near the end of any given term, for example, we see a lot of “finals week crammers,” while more first-time and proactive studiers sign up for tutoring at the beginning of a semester.
The result? A 17% lower no-show rate for students who received either version of the reminder email, compared to the control group who didn’t receive a reminder.
What does that 17% improvement represent in terms of student and financial impact?
It means a cost savings by not having to pay tutors for waiting in abandoned sessions. It means increased tutor satisfaction, with fewer no-show sessions. And most importantly, it means more students showing up for much-needed tutoring, getting the help they need to remain on track toward completion. That’s a win we can all show up for!
By simply reminding students of their upcoming tutoring session 24 hours in advance, Upswing was able to reduce the no-show rate by approximately 17%.