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The Education Business

How Sylvan Learning’s Unparalleled Approach to Education Gives Students an Edge

The premier supplemental education franchise positions students for success thanks to a results-driving Test Prep curriculum; proprietary technology like SylvanSync; STEM programs and deeply passionate franchisees.

Since its founding in 1979, Sylvan Learning has been leading the way in value-rich supplemental education, providing students with personalized instruction in reading, writing, mathematics, study skills and homework support. As students’ needs developed in line with a developing educational landscape, Sylvan innovated to include ACT and SAT Test Prep, plus Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) curricula. Today, Sylvan is the premier supplemental education franchise, with over 750 points of presence in North America and beyond.

So what makes Sylvan such an effective learning solution? Amidst myriad differentiators, four interrelated elements that position Sylvan—and Sylvan’s students—for ongoing success include: the brand’s Test Prep solutions; a SylvanSync-driven individualized learning model; Sylvan’s STEM courses; and deeply passionate franchisees.

Anthony DiGiacomo is the owner and Executive Director of three centers in New Jersey. His Sylvan Learning Center consistently sees its students earn high scores on the SAT and ACT after taking Sylvan’s Test Prep course.

“We have an amazing SAT and ACT prep program and offering for families,” DiGiacomo explained. “Ours is an individualized program that helps students get the scores they want in order to get into the colleges they want.”

DiGiacomo explained that, right off the bat, students new to Sylvan’s Test Prep program take a full-length practice ACT or SAT. At the same time, students and parents provide information about past scores, current school grades, the score the student hopes to achieve and the colleges they are most interested in attending.

“From all of that information, we build an individualized program that will help them achieve those goals, and then deliver the lessons in a one-to-one model,” DiGiacomo said.

This means that, contrary to competitors’ templated prep courses, Sylvan’s approach takes a complete and individualized picture of a given student to prepare them not only for test success, but for college success, as well.

“It’s more than just the ACT or SAT for which a student is preparing; it’s also about their success in school and beyond,” said DiGiacomo. “While a student is preparing for the ACT, say they also have a math or social studies test coming up that’s worrying them. They’re often surprised to discover that, in the course of SAT or ACT test prep, they can turn to us and can say, ‘You can help me with this in-class test?’ And we say, ‘Of course!’ That helps relieve stress, and positions them for success in school now, in school later and on the standardized test.”

In addition to being personalized to a given student's needs, Sylvan’s proprietary Test Prep curriculum leverages “a blend of proprietary technology and paper-based instruction with a Sylvan tutor,” DiGiacomo said.

And that blend of one-to-one relationship and innovative technology is important.

“So much of what students see on a daily-basis in the classroom is tech-based, but the importance of interacting with the teacher is as important as it’s ever been,” DiGiacomo said.

One of the tech offerings to which DiGiacomo refers is Sylvan’s proprietary SylvanSync, an adaptive platform, which a Sylvan instructor leverages to develop and deliver personalized lesson plans, and which then adjusts to a student’s needs in real-time.

Emily Levitt, Sylvan’s VP of Education, said that SylvanSync is a major factor driving the brand’s success.

“SylvanSync definitely sets us apart,” Levitt said. “Our program is designed to be competitive and relevant to what students are seeing and using in the classroom. SylvanSync really allows us to be adaptable in the moment of the tutoring session.”

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Key Takeaways

  • As students’ needs developed in line with a developing educational landscape, Sylvan innovated to include ACT and SAT Test Prep, plus Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) curricula. Today, Sylvan is the premier supplemental education franchise, with over 750 locations in North America and beyond.
  • SylvanSync, an adaptive platform used by a Sylvan instructor to develop and deliver personalized lesson plans and which then adjusts to a student’s needs in real-time, is a key differentiator in the supplemental education space.
  • Sylvan’s Test Prep programs are personalized to the individual student and built from data including a full-length SAT or ACT practice test; student- and parent-provided info about past scores; current school grades; the score the student hopes to get; and the colleges they are most interested in attending.
  • STEM camps’ hands-on approach to learning makes for infectious ‘lightbulb moments’ that drive students’ curiosity and interest in the subject matter.
  • Sylvan’s committed, passionate franchisees take pride in their students’ success and drive real results for their Sylvan learners.

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