Schools Training

Leveraging your Employment for Higher Learning

20 JUN 2014

In education news this week, Starbucks, a company whose approach to business often goes against the grain, has made an epic announcement. The coffee giant will help its employees acquire a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University, whose online program for courses is regarded as one of the best in North America, complete with a robust system for ensuring that students have access to educational articles and school news. Starbucks’ program will cover tuition for employees who work at least 20 hours per week.

With the costs of higher education soaring, especially in the U.S., where going to college is often synonymous with accumulating debt, this announcement from Starbucks has the potential to be a game changer. The company believes that supporting its employees in their studies and providing them with a path to higher education will lead to better employee retention and more employee satisfaction throughout the company. It’s also worth noting that Starbucks has decided to make the system simple and straightforward, not attaching conditions such as forcing employees who take advantage of this program to continue working for the brand after their graduations.

All-time high

Starbucks has never been afraid to march to the beat of its own drum. The company, for example, supports higher minimum wages and provides its employees with health insurance, something other corporations, like McDonalds, have consistently failed to do. With this announcement, Starbucks moves again in the opposite direction, as many employers have been discontinuing their tuition assistance programs. With rising college tuition and additional fees at an all-time high, a program like Starbucks’ isn’t only a good idea, it’s necessary. Already, there are rumours that other corporations all across North America will be following Starbucks’ lead and providing their employees with a clean, efficient access to higher education.

With online education now a reality, work and studies can work hand-in-hand easily. Through these type of programs, we hope to see a reduction in the reliance on grants and financial aid among students, and a more organic collaboration between schools and the workplace.

Working students deserve support

Schools have the responsibility to ensure that all students, even those who must work to be able to study, can be successful. Colleges and universities can create a supportive culture on campus for their students who must reconcile school and work responsibilities. They can do so by educating professors, administrators and faculty members on the reality of a working student’s life, and how to encourage their learning rather than making them feel as if they are trying to accomplish the impossible. Moreover, structures on campus should be inclusive and consider the needs of all types of individuals, not only traditional students who have the luxury to concentrate exclusively on their studies.

In the long term, it makes perfect sense for schools to better integrate working students into their campus life. By being mindful of different schedules and challenges, colleges and universities can tailor their education models to their students’ needs, instead of the other way around.