We are a research and analysis driven academic consulting firm that seeks to enable our students and employees to realize their aspirations. Our research and publications enable us to offer unparalleled tutoring, test prep, enrichment, and consulting services.
For over ten years, our Insight and deep capabilities have assisted thousands of students around the world. We are an integrated education services and media company.
Our consumer services include tutoring, test preparation, enrichment, and consulting. Our institutional services include after school programs, test preparation, and consulting. The GAQNA.com online tutoring service serves both consumers and institutions.
Our publications include Thesis Magazine (ThesisMag.com), The Houston School Survey (HoustonSchoolSurvey.com), "Upper Level ISEE Prep Guide with 6 Full Length Practice Tests" and "Houston Private and Select Public Schools."
Established in a Rice University dorm room in 2003, General Academic is headquartered in Houston. Our team currently includes approximately 75 brilliant, professional, and charismatic tutors, instructors, writers, editors, managers, and executives.
The Corporate Anti-Corporate Advantage
Our goal is to be the undisputed knowledge leader in the markets in which we compete all while offering quality, personalized services at competitive rates.
Our small size and local ownership enable us to more closely tailor our services to your individual needs. Simultaneously, our strong management and corporate identity ensure that you receive a high quality and well supported product.
Small (Village) Advantage
Shelby Joe founded General Academic in 2003, two weeks before matriculating at Rice University. At Rice, he majored in political science and managerial studies while also studying abroad in both China and Germany. After not quite two years working as a management consultant, he turned his attention full time toward making General Academic the best company possible.
Stephen Hayes, mostly Texan, joined General Academic in 2010 after graduating cum laude from Houston Baptist University with a major in English and a minor in Writing. As the executive for curriculum development, he has been instrumental to the Company's rapid growth over the last three years. Stephen is an award winning poet and enjoys playing video games in his free time.
General Academic’s history is one of young adulthood and the continual pursuit of the next adventure.
Shelby Joe incorporated General Academic on August 11, 2003, in Jackson, Mississippi just a few weeks before leaving for his freshmen year at Rice University.
In founding the new company, Shelby sought an adventure and a way to improve his new community. He wrote in his original business plan that he intended to make “knowledge truly without boundaries.”
This sense of adventure quickly manifested itself when General Academic made its first foray into the Internet with online tutoring in 2004. Dubbed SmarterAcademic, the concept was that undergraduate tutors from Rice and Emory Universities would always be available online to help students as needed using virtual classroom technologies.
The experiment lasted through 2005, employed nearly 50 undergraduates, and assisted 500 students around the world including the United Kingdom and Australia. While the always-available online tutoring service proved financially untenable, it did make General Academic the largest single, private employer of undergraduates at Rice University’s Sid Richardson College in 2005.
Between 2005 and 2007, General Academic consolidated its business to focus on a growing Houston market. Shelby left the company in the good care of his freshman roommate, Justin Lane, in 2005 when he took a year to study abroad in Beijing and Shanghai, China, and in 2006 in Lueneburg and Hamburg, Germany. Under Justin’s management, the Company’s in-home tutoring practice continued to grow at roughly 40% a year.
By the fall of 2006, Justin had already secured a post-graduation position working as investment banking analyst for Wachovia Securities, and Shelby secured an offer as a management consultant business analyst at Accenture.
With full time employment ahead of them, the Company’s managers had to decide the future of the Company. Continuing in the tradition of the Company’s motto, “a company of students, by students, for students,” General Academic hired its first student manager.
The Interim Years
Aerin Williams was a senior at Rice when she took over day-to-day operations of General Academic in 2007. Her strong personality, great charisma, and innate business skills propelled the Company to its best ever performance between 2007 and 2008. After graduating from Rice, Aerin left for New York City to work for CitiGroup.
By 2009, the global financial crisis was at its worst. Having been laid off by Accenture, Shelby returned to the company he had founded 6 years prior. On his return to leading the day to day operations, he brought with him the strategies and business skills learned while working with some of the US’s largest companies. General Academic increased its marketing spend, hired more tutors than ever before and witnessed a nearly 400% year over year growth by the end of 2010.
The Study Lounge
With such phenomenal growth, it became necessary for the Company to establish a physical presence for the first time since its founding. General Academic selected a space in the Rice Village because of its proximity both to its supply of tutors and demand from clients. In addition to serving as a general office, this location heralded a new concept, “the Study Lounge.”
The Study Lounge combines a cool and comfortable atmosphere with the expertise of General Academic’s brilliant tutors. Additionally, the Lounge serves as host to a variety of classes including standardized test preparation, essay writing, and foreign language. The Study Lounge opened on January 17, 2011.
Changing the World
We are writing this chapter right now!