7 Businesses That Have Popped Up to Serve Students and Kiasu Parents

By Joanne Poh

For many Singaporeans, an easy way to make cash on the side is to profit from stressed out students and the anxiety of kiasu parents whose mission in life is to ensure Junior gets top scores in the PSLE, O levels and A levels, and gets into a great university.

This education mania has given rise to a whole bunch of services and businesses other than the $1 billion tuition industry. Here are seven services designed to give every student (and their kiasu parents) in Singapore an advantage over, well, everyone else:

1. Essay ghost writing services

University students have an entire semester to write their end-of-semester essays, but obviously many will leave them to the last minute and then panic when they realise they have three days to hand in papers that are worth 70% of their final grade.

That’s where essay ghost writing services come in. These folks will complete university-level essays for their clients at a price. An essay usually costs a few hundred bucks, especially if it’s on a technical subject that requires research.

2. Parents hiring tutors to do their kids’ homework

Private tutors are being hired not just to teach their young charges… but to do their homework for them. Yup, you heard that right, some kiasu parents are paying tutors to complete their children’s homework assignments… because their kids are too overloaded with tuition (!) and CCAs to cope.

The logic boggles the mind, but apparently these same kiasu parents are willing to pay these tutors up to $250 an hour. Back in our time, we had a free solution to this problem: copying other students’ homework in the morning.

3. University admissions help

These days, it’s not enough to get good grades to guarantee yourself a place at your university of choice—not if your school of choice is one of the best universities in the US or UK.

That’s why establishments like IvyPrep Tuition Centre exist. IvyPrep offers classes preparing students for tests like the SAT and ACT and also conducts masterclasses and private consulting for students who wish to apply for unis in the US and UK.

Keystone Tutors is designed to serve students who intend to study in the UK, whether at secondary school or university level. They not only provide tuition but also help with the application process.

4. Sale of cheat sheets

So it’s the night before a big exam, and students who’ve slacked off during the year are faced with the prospect of trawling through textbooks as thick are their heads. Their chances of passing would be much higher with cheatsheets in which the entire semester/year’s worth of information is crammed into as few pages as possible.

That’s why some enterprising Singaporeans have started selling personalised O level and A level notes or cheat sheets, which they sell for $5 to $20 online.

5. Sale of past year papers

One easy way to make a quick buck is to get hold of past year exam papers from various top schools, photocopy them and them hawk them at pushcarts. A stack of exam papers costs around $20, and you can sell an unlimited supply of these so long as you have the use of a photocopying machine.

These exam papers get snapped up by private tutors who intend to pass them on to their students. In this way, money in the shadow education industry stays in the system.

6. Tuition apps and portals

Want to profit from the tuition industry without actually having to spend time breathing down the necks of unwilling students? Then you might want to develop yet another tuition app or portal that have popped up to match up students with tutors.

The market is becoming increasingly saturated, and GrabTuition and ManyTutors are just some of the many apps/sites fighting for the attention of kiasu parents.

7. Homework-related apps

No, students aren’t ALWAYS posting pics on Instagram when they fiddle with their smartphones. There’s now a whole bunch of apps that enable them to snap a picture of their homework questions, upload them and get a reply from a stable of tutors.

Snapask pays tutors $1 per question answered. The catchily named HomeworkGods also lets students snap a pic of their homework and then wait for the powers above to reply with the right answer.

This article was first published over at MoneySmart blog on 12 September 2017. It is reproduced with permission.

About The Author (Joanne Poh)

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.


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