As competition heated up for the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee, some parents turned to unlikely sources for test prep: teenagers who have already competed in the bee.
These highly sought after coaches, some as young as 14 years old, can pull in a price tag of $200-an-hour, The Washington Post reported.
Sylvie Lamontagne, 14, is one such coach, according to The Post. She came in fourth place last year and understands how difficult the competition has become.
“As the spelling bee gets more and more difficult, there are people working harder and harder every year,” Lamontagne told The Post. “There are definitely people in the last couple years who are using coaches to get to the finals.”
Perhaps it seems silly to pay a teenager what could be a going rate of an adult SAT tutor. But the young age of these coaches, and their recent experience in the same position, is precisely why it works.
To qualify for the Scripps bee, spellers must not have passed the eighth grade as of February, nor reached their 15th birthday before August. For these kids who have aged out, there seems to be a booming business.
And the pricey investment might just be worth it if your kid wins the competition. This year, the first place winner, 12-year-old Ananya Vinay, took home $40,000 in cash and a $2,500 savings bond.