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Sylvan Learning Center Complaints & Reviews - Beware and stay away

Sylvan Learning Center Contacts & Informations

Sylvan Learning Center

Posted:    Will76

Beware and stay away

Complaint Rating:  100 % with 21 votes
Contact information:
Sylvan Learning Center
United States
On 1/23/2009 I signed by 4th grade son up for the recommended 100 hour program to bring him up to grade level in reading and math. I foolishly prepaid in full a total of $4790. 2 weeks into the program during an evaluation I expressed concerns that I did not see any improvement.. they said give it more time. By the time I gave it more time my son's report card came and it was not better and in some cases worse. I immediately called to cancel was told I had to give a 2 week notice and all these time lines given to me by Sylvan put me past the 4 week guarantee or full refund written promise. After a couple of conversations they "allowed" us to cancel w/only a week notice. Upon termination I was told my refund would take 4 months. During none of this did I complain - I took responsibility for trusting the program. After 5 months I called and was told "the owner" going through financial hardship I was 4th in line for my refund. 6th month I was 3rd, 8th month I was 2nd. I was ignored by Sylvan headquarters in November and yesterday almost a year from beginning this ordeal I was told "I will be talking to the owner about it tomorrow." After a 2nd email to headquarters last night I did get a response from them: "according to our notes John Weiss (owner) contacted you and agreed to pay you interest on the refund owed to you." Complete lie!! I have never had any such conversation with anyone at Sylvan that went beyond... your (blah) on the list... oh soon... you'll get it...

I couldn't believe that Sylvan as a corporation took the word of their owner/operator and didn't even follow up with the customer to confirm or deny the accountability. I am an 'independant contractor' for a national brand and our company would never speak only to us and relay the message after a second follow up 2 months later!!

Appauling - don't get sucked into the false success of Sylvan. Being located in So California my area is loaded with Title One Schools due to the overwhelming non English speaking students. TITLE ONE SCHOOLS PAY FOR PRIVATE TUTORS SUCH AS SYLVAN FOR ANY STUDENT THAT WANTS IT!! So not only do my tax dollars pay for all the children that go to Sylvan in my area but I lost my after tax dollars for my own son with no success!! I am now working on a full refund based on their deceptive business practices and loop holed written guarantee. Don't go to SYLVAN it is a trap and they will make you feel like less of a parent if you aren't willing to lay $5000 down for program that has no proof of success for anyone that English is their first language.
Comments United States Education
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 6th of Jan, 2010 by   Scott from Mass +1 Votes
I have had a much different experience with Sylvan. All three of my kids have attended lessons at Sylvan. My son was struggling with Algebra in 8th grade and the staff really helped him get back on track. I thought about dropping him to a lower level course before calling Sylvan, the Director/Owner walked me through all the different scenarios. They knew his teacher in school and explained to me that it wasn't always going to be easy for my student, the students in the teachers class are held to a higher standard, but they traditionally do very well in Geometry, Algebra 2 trig and even Calc because of the foundation she gives them.

I laughed when he mentioned Calc, but my son is a junior Engineering major at UCONN taking Calc 2.

My other two kids attended study skills programs, and are doing well.

I know Sylvan is a franchise operation, so there may be some bad operators out there. The owner of our center was in the center everyday, when he wasn't meeting with parents he was working with the kids. He had a great relationship with the local schools and many of the other parents were educators themselves. Our superintendednt even had his daughter enrolled.

I recommend the Sylvan we used to all my friends, if you are thinking about Sylvan and don't know anyone who has used the one in your area, ask for references.
 8th of Mar, 2010 by   billblass -1 Votes
I think it is unrealistic to expect grades to improve after just two weeks.
 25th of May, 2010 by   Tannis +1 Votes
I used to be a Director of Education for Sylvan (prior to that I was a high school English and History teacher for 5 years-I have 3 degrees including a masters in curriculum development). First of all, it doesn't matter which one you go to EVERY SINGLE PROGRAM IS THE SAME. The math and Reading programs are sent from corporate to every Sylvan, and as the Director you cannot change the program in anyway, or else they cannot offer the one grade level improvement guarantee. They claim to tailor the program to your child, but they can't. They can omit certain skills that your child may not need to learn, but other than that, every child will learn the same things with the same books at the same time. Furthermore, Sylvan's testing is a complete joke. They expose your child to a complicated test in a format that your child is not familiar with. After your 36 hours, they then give your child the same test, however now they have had 36 hours of worksheets showing them how to answer these test questions, and have of course, seen the test before and are more comfortable with it. There is no correlation whatsoever between the reading program and school.

As a Director, you are sent on a week long training program in Baltimore where they teach you how to use wiggle language to avoid questions and to sell their system. As a high school teacher, there is no benefit from the reading program that couldn't be gained from reading with your child every night and checking their homework. It would be more helpful to speak to their teacher and set up daily sign-offs on homework through an agenda, then having your child sit for 3 hours a week doing multiple choice activities out of workbooks. Directors are even taught to downplay the effectiveness of private tutors (the main competition that sylvan has) because "although they may help your child do better in school initially, there will be no long term results". This is also untrue. The benefit of a tutor is that they actually work with your child on the activities that your child is doing in SCHOOL, and when they have questions, the tutor can help them to understand. Sylvan wants you to believe that you need their program in order to catch your child up and help them get ahead-In my 3 years with Sylvan, I never saw a single child get to the point where they were ahead. Furthermore, students who had been with Sylvan for a long time, were often still failing their classes (especially English) because the material is so irrelevant to the classroom.

In training we were also taught how to roll students from one program into another and how to keep them paying Sylvan. The programs are set up so that your child will score very low on a test (to create a sense of "urgency") that is ambiguous and doesn't truly reflect school grade (its true-they are "Sylvan Grades"), and then a set amount of hours are required for them to move toward their "grade level", however by the time this is reached, the child is already at the next year and school and will have to be tested all over again. It is a complete sham. I wish more people would explain how crooked this system is, but Directors are afraid because we are forced to sign a waiver stating that we will not tell anyone how the Sylvan system works. I beg you to save your money-get a private tutor, or work out a solution with your child's teacher, but don't throw your money down the corporate Sylvan tube.
 5th of Nov, 2010 by   Nick Ni -1 Votes
I am a Sylvan franchise owner in Mountain View CA. I would like to comment on Tannis' feedback here.
Please excuse me for English grammar error here because English is my second language.

Tannis:
I used to be a Director of Education for Sylvan (prior to that I was a high school English and History teacher for 5 years-I have 3 degrees including a masters in curriculum development). First of all, it doesn't matter which one you go to EVERY SINGLE PROGRAM IS THE SAME. The math and Reading programs are sent from corporate to every Sylvan, and as the Director you cannot change the program in anyway, or else they cannot offer the one grade level improvement guarantee. They claim to tailor the program to your child, but they can't. They can omit certain skills that your child may not need to learn, but other than that, every child will learn the same things with the same books at the same time.

My response:
Tannis, I am not sure if you really worked for Sylvan or not. What you are describing here is completely wrong.
You can change programs. We do it for every single student here. Sylvan corporate just provide the tools. It is up to Director of Education to change them. First, you need to identify students' weaknesses and what they have learned. Sylvan uses California Achievement Test as the main tool. Then we omit these skills that students have learned. Finally, we customize the program. For math, we can add homework, "+, - X, /" tables, fraction, percentage and decimal conversation...For reading, focus on vocabulary for writing, give vocabulary homework...There are some many ways to customize Sylvan programs. It is a shame that you never really learned or you never worked for us.

Your statement - "every child will learn the same things with the same books at the same time" is a complete lie. We have about 140 students at Mountain View. Not even one student is learning the same thing at the same time with another student. I challenge you provide any concrete evidence.

Tannis:
Furthermore, Sylvan's testing is a complete joke. They expose your child to a complicated test in a format that your child is not familiar with. After your 36 hours, they then give your child the same test, however now they have had 36 hours of worksheets showing them how to answer these test questions, and have of course, seen the test before and are more comfortable with it. There is no correlation whatsoever between the reading program and school.

My response:
Tannis, I am certain that you are paid by someone to write the complaint. We always test students with different test. There are 2 tests for each grade level from California Achievement Test, Form A & Form. Form A is the one that we typically give students when they enroll. Form B is the one that we test for progress. Sylvan did not design the tests, we are using 3rd party tests. If this is not fair, then what is fair?

It is a shame on you making the false statement again.

Tannis:
As a Director, you are sent on a week long training program in Baltimore where they teach you how to use wiggle language to avoid questions and to sell their system. As a high school teacher, there is no benefit from the reading program that couldn't be gained from reading with your child every night and checking their homework. It would be more helpful to speak to their teacher and set up daily sign-offs on homework through an agenda, then having your child sit for 3 hours a week doing multiple choice activities out of workbooks. Directors are even taught to downplay the effectiveness of private tutors (the main competition that sylvan has) because "although they may help your child do better in school initially, there will be no long term results". This is also untrue. The benefit of a tutor is that they actually work with your child on the activities that your child is doing in SCHOOL, and when they have questions, the tutor can help them to understand. Sylvan wants you to believe that you need their program in order to catch your child up and help them get ahead-In my 3 years with Sylvan, I never saw a single child get to the point where they were ahead. Furthermore, students who had been with Sylvan for a long time, were often still failing their classes (especially English) because the material is so irrelevant to the classroom.

In training we were also taught how to roll students from one program into another and how to keep them paying Sylvan. The programs are set up so that your child will score very low on a test (to create a sense of "urgency") that is ambiguous and doesn't truly reflect school grade (its true-they are "Sylvan Grades"), and then a set amount of hours are required for them to move toward their "grade level", however by the time this is reached, the child is already at the next year and school and will have to be tested all over again. It is a complete sham. I wish more people would explain how crooked this system is, but Directors are afraid because we are forced to sign a waiver stating that we will not tell anyone how the Sylvan system works. I beg you to save your money-get a private tutor, or work out a solution with your child's teacher, but don't throw your money down the corporate Sylvan tube.

My response:
I do not want to waste more time to respond to you. You have no clue how Sylvan system works and making false statements.

We have helped thousands of students here at our center. Most of them are very happy.

If we have been cheating parents and students for the past 30 years, Sylvan will be long gone.
 19th of Jun, 2012 by   Young Oh 0 Votes
Yes, Will you did the right thing. I am Paek Young-Oh and a Korean American Father. I sent my son over to sylvan, and wasted my money. This place ripped me off and my son didn't learn a thing. Now because you've quit don't start signing up for similar learning places like Kumon. They are more expensive and there is no instruction. Please read my comment!!!
 10th of Dec, 2013 by   Wendy Tai +2 Votes
I agree with you. Kumon learning centers is a bigger scam. I also found that Kumon Math & Reading has no instruction, because most of their tutors are Japanese or Chinese first generation stay-home moms who are mostly uneducated or cannot speak English or know Mathematics. All Kumon learning center tutors do is distribute worksheets and charge money. Most of the students are Japanese, Chinese and Indian immigrants. I also heard that many children were molested at Kumon Math & reading. I agree with you that Kumon learning centers is a scam. All learning centers are scams.
 24th of Feb, 2014 by   Mom_is_best 0 Votes
Children's education horror story. Looking back, I feel stupid ever enrolling my children at Kumon. Every time I picked up my girls at the centre, the owner Nicole Smith was away from the classroom yapping away on her cell phone. She had little to no patience with the kids, raised her voice at kids who approach her with questions. The problem is that there's only one teacher and a bunch of high school kids working as staff. Other parents observed exactly the same thing. There were other things, like staff being generally impatient with the little ones and even comparing siblings out loud (my two girls). Whenever I tried to address any issues with the owner, Nicole Smith, she was absolutely defensive, insinuated that she had been doing this for so long she didn't need pointers. I took out my daughters from the centre. This was absolutely an abysmal experience. Nicole Smith apparently thinks that parents don't get a say in their children's education - because she's "the expert". Parents, let me be absolutely clear: if you have issues with your tutor, you should be able to bring it up in a reasonable tone and have a mature discussion about it. Anything less than that is absolutely unacceptable- and that's not even touching on the fact that Nicole Smith pretends there's no problem with her or her staff or her dingy centre. Don't be fooled by looks of the front. There are way too many issues Kumon Math & Reading centre of Hamilton West End and Nicole Smith has demonstrated she's not interested in fixing them.

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