bannerFranchisor Stories

Why Sylvan Learning's Top 10 College Prep Locations Have Seen an 103% Increase in Growth Since Last Year

Offering test prep and college-level tutoring is a strong diversification of revenue for both the brand and for franchisees.

There are so many new challenges that high school students face as they tackle advanced classes and prepare for college. Sylvan Learning, the supplemental and enrichment education brand with over 40 years of experience, makes it easier for teens to build academic skills and confidence. As the largest national branded provider of college preparation resources, Sylvan Learning helps prepare students for the increased workloads and demanding tests and assignments they will face during high school and equips them with valuable skills that will help them achieve their educational goals. 

Through the development of innovative programs, Sylvan Learning creates a powerful way to help students while giving franchisees a competitive edge through additional revenue opportunities. This year, one of Sylvan’s most successful opportunities for franchisees has been college prep courses.

“As part of our college prep program, we offer SAT and ACT test preparation as well as advanced writing, reading and math tutoring to ensure that our teen students have the skills and confidence to succeed in college-level classes and score higher on the exams,” said Emily Levitt, Sylvan Learning’s VP of Education. “We offer personalized tutoring support, homework help, small-group practice and more. Students feel a level of comfort knowing that they can turn to us for all of their academic needs in high school as they prepare for college. Our program also drastically reduces the stress level for students and parents during this challenging time.”

In 2019, Sylvan’s college prep program proved to be a strong revenue generator for the top 10 franchise locations in the system. These franchisees experienced a 37% year-over-year growth in college prep enrollments in 2019 and an 103% year-over-year growth overall. The college prep program has provided a lucrative revenue stream that positions Sylvan Learning as a differentiated business opportunity in the education segment. 

“The fact that we are able to teach amazing test-taking strategies while ensuring our teen students have the support to navigate through high school level math, science and English adds a level of service that other prep programs can not match,” said northern New Jersey franchisee and Executive Director, Anthony DiGiacomo. “As students are preparing for the SAT or ACT, they still need to pass classes like Pre-Calculus and Honors English. We can help them with those classes. It's important for students to maintain, and maybe even improve, their GPA for their college applications. We can help them do that as well.”

One Sylvan Learning student, 11th-grader Clare, was able to raise her SAT score from 1,100 to 1,300 with the help of Sylvan Learning’s tutors and SAT prep program. “Raising my score opens up so many opportunities—not only for getting into colleges but also for winning academic scholarships,” said Clare. “I’ve made great friends at Sylvan and it felt so good to come back during the summer and tell them about my improved SAT score.”

While the traditional Sylvan Learning model includes reading and math classes for third through eighth grade, the brand avoids limiting itself to one specific age range. According to Levitt, offering college prep programs increases the longevity and range of the student base by creating a gateway to both gain new clients and provide existing clients with additional help.

“When parents come to Sylvan when their child is younger and have a positive experience, they remember us when it is time for college prep,” said Levitt. “From a franchisee angle, it is a great way to keep the families in your center for years—many families start from pre-K and stay with us all the way to college. Plus, Sylvan’s test prep services are profitable year-round, not just during the few months before standardized testing dates.” 

A March 2019 report from IBISWorld valued the tutoring and test preparation industry at $1.1 billion, with exam prep services making up 25% of the industry. By offering a variety of affordable programs and easy payment plans to fit any budget, Sylvan Learning positions itself ahead of the competition and allows the centers to tap into this thriving market and reach new students. 

Unlike most SAT prep programs, Sylvan Learning offers a balanced approach to SAT preparation. The proven mix includes in-center instruction, independent practice, online resources and multiple SAT practice tests. Also, Sylvan’s test prep programs are designed with a teenager’s hectic schedule in mind to ensure that students can prepare for the test no matter how busy he or she is. 

“Part of the reason our college prep program has been so successful is that students have a teacher to walk them through every step of the way,” said Levitt. “In comparison with buying a college prep book, our teachers hone in on an individual’s unique skills and boost their overall academic achievement.” 

Sylvan has stayed ahead of the industry curve for decades, perfecting personalized learning and providing a rare 3-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio that typically results in two to three times more growth in math and reading than the national average. 

According to DiGiacomo, the college prep program shows no signs of slowing down. “We've had an amazing level of success with college prep programs over the years and 2019 may have been our best year yet,” said DiGiacomo. “Our center helped a student get a perfect 36 on the ACT and we helped a student get a perfect 800 on the math portion of the SAT. We've had a number of students score higher than a 1500 on the SAT, but our success goes way beyond those amazing scores. When we've been able to get students to scores that now open the doors to the colleges of their dreams, we feel an overwhelming sense of pride and total satisfaction in that accomplishment.”

In addition to the college prep program, Sylvan’s differentiators include 40 years of brand awareness, industry-leading technology like the personalized learning platform SylvanSync™ and 750-plus international points of presence. These differentiators are why more and more franchise candidates interested in the education space find themselves looking to Sylvan Learning as their next business opportunity. 

Startup costs for a Sylvan Learning Center range from $68,680 to $159,085, including a franchise fee of $24,000. For more information about franchising with Sylvan Learning, please click here.

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.