One of the most successful and unique student fundraisers we’ve seen over the past five years is McGill University’s “tutorials” â€“ two- or three-hour exam review sessions taught by student tutors with extensive experience in their subject areas.
This idea took root in 2010, when MEDLIFE McGill began offering the review tutorials to help science and engineering students prepare for their exams. Alan Blayney, a chemistry student and coordinator for the tutorials program, says the idea for the fundraiser came from their school’s undergraduate student association. The group did a similar type of fundraiser, inspiring chapter members to take the idea and apply it to MEDLIFE.
The tutorials first focused on basic science courses like calculus, physics, and organic chemistry. Later, the group expanded to include upper-level courses in physical and analytical chemistry, as well as the cell biology and economics departments, sticking strictly to concept-based courses (as opposed to those requiring memorization).
At first Alan alone taught the review sessions, using old exams acquired from relevant class professors to go over all class fundamentals. As the tutorial program grew, the chapter began to look for other tutors. Connections were first made through networking, and then eventually through an online application process, allowing leaders to be vetted by the group’s executive board. The chapter looks for high-performing undergraduate or graduate students with experience in their subject areas and the willingness to put together review materials.
MEDLIFE McGill charges $20 per final exam review and $10 for each mid-term review, which students pay at the door. Participants also receive a $5 discount for registering online. “The good thing about this type of fundraiser,” Alan notes, “is that there is not a high start-up cost involved. The only expense is printing out the review packs.”
The chapter also usually gifts tutorial leaders, who volunteer their time, with a “thank you” $20 gift card to a coffee shop or other place of interest.
Those who organize the tutorials work with the MEDLIFE McGill’s marketing committee to promote the fundraiser as far in advance as possible. The chapter focuses on quantity; that is, getting the word out to as many students on campus as possible. They make announcements in relevant classes, use Facebook, hang posters, and send out the information via university listservs.
Alan says that it was important for the group to market the fundraiser not as a crash course, but as a legitimate review. Chapter members believe that, although the idea could be replicated at other universities, it works particularly well at McGill because of the studious culture. They also created a Facebook feedback form for students to fill out as a way to respond to complaints, evaluate tutors, and generally improve the experience. The group has also had a lot of success getting professors on board as promoters, adding legitimacy to the tutorials.
“Of course,” Alan says, “there will always be professors who are against the tutorials.” He explained that the main roadblock to launching the first fundraiser was simply finding out if it was against institutional policy; at McGill, it does not violate any university rules.
So what do these study sessions have to do with MEDLIFE? According to Alan, a chapter member attends each review session to provide a brief introduction to the organization and direct students to the website and Facebook page. Of course, all of the proceeds go directly to MEDLIFE’s Project Fund. Over the years, the chapter at McGill has raised thousands of dollars through their tutorials and has consistently been an example of excellent organization, commitment, and successful fundraising.