Before students posted on Facebook that TutoringZone "is like academic sex," before there were 31 tutors and thousands of student clients, there was just Matt Hintze.
He had a reputation as a good tutor when he was an undergraduate at the University of California, Los Angeles, and he carried that reputation to graduate school at UF. The requests kept coming, and Hintze started his company in 1999.
Now he is CEO of TutoringZone, a private tutoring company regarded by many UF students as the savior of large "weed-out" courses. About 11,000 individuals visited the TutoringZone offices during last year's spring semester.
TutoringZone offers weekly tutoring sessions, test preparation, practice exams, study materials, review packets and interaction with tutors through Facebook.
But TutoringZone isn't the only tutoring service in Gainesville. StudyEdge, which opened during the summer, offers services similar to those at TutoringZone. Smokin'Notes offers note supplements to classes.
Tutoring in Gainesville has become so prevalent, professors are now familiar with it.
Macroeconomics professor David Denslow said TutoringZone tutors are able to condense the lecture material in a short amount of time.
He said the "essence" of the class is not always captured on tests and because TutoringZone teaches to the tests, students who rely on those last-minute sessions might miss important things.
"My theory is that the job market will catch on to that," Denslow said.
Some UF students use TutoringZone as their main method of test preparation, going to last-minute reviews instead of classes.
TutoringZone Chief Operating Officer Larina Hintze said she and her husband, Matt, know some of their patrons use TutoringZone as a substitute for classes. However, she said the rewarding part for Matt is seeing the hardworking students who use the service for extra help when they understand a concept.
Although TutoringZone has stuck with mostly business, math and science classes in the past, this semester, an applied physiology and kinesiology class and two different journalism class sessions are being offered.
Reporting professor Mike Foley said he is somewhat flattered that his class will be supplemented at TutoringZone. He said learning to write is hard, and he is glad students are seeking help.
Foley said he is interested to see how the tutoring sessions will be taught because several lab instructors besides Foley teach and grade students' writing.
Although he said he thinks the TutoringZone founders are "terrific entrepreneurs," and he has heard good things about the service, he is a little skeptical of tutors' ability to replicate the experience he gives his class.
"I bet they don't dance!" he said.