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How can companies improve college access and affordability?

There has been a push to make education as affordable as possible. An effort has been made to convert the significant investment that companies have already made in corporate training programs and turn that into what we call an articulated college credit.

This allows incoming students to get a head start on higher education by starting off with credits already in hand before they take their first class. The company and the university identify any corporate classes or training the employees have taken that may qualify, classes that have the rigor and equivalency of what they would have received at a university. By converting corporate education into college credit, the cost of that education is greatly reduced. Plus, the program is focused on the exact skills your company needs.

How do you determine how corporate training programs translate to college credits?

The university evaluates the courses a corporation has developed for its content, its delivery, number of hours, whether it was instructor-led, self-paced or computer-based. Using higher learning accreditation-type processes, the findings are compared to nationally accepted practices to ensure the rigor of those courses match what a student would have gotten from a university.

Each class is evaluated individually. Then those evaluations are provided back to the student in the form of a list of courses that he or she may have taken at his or her corporation, listing the credit value and discipline of those courses.

The students who come in with existing corporate training have a significantly higher probability of completion than those who come in without any credits. Having the ability to take what you’ve learned in the workplace and apply it to your education is not only a cost savings but it’s also a jump-start that helps students succeed at school.

What about the misperception that tuition assistance pays employees to make themselves more attractive to other employers?

There are many national studies that disprove this opinion and in fact show that tuition reimbursement programs actually improve employee loyalty and longevity. At University of Phoenix, we are conducting significant return-on-investment analysis with companies that offer tuition reimbursement. Our early findings also show that tuition reimbursement for job-related degrees adds to retention while improving and enhancing skill development, not only because of the education but also because active learning adults are much better at absorbing new ideas and skills than ones who haven’t been in school for a long time. It’s a win for both the company and the individual employee.

Jim Hutcherson is the vice president of Strategic & Academic Alliances for University of Phoenix. University of Phoenix, the largest private university in North America, serves a diverse student population, offering associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs from campuses and learning centers across the U.S. as well as online throughout the world. University of Phoenix’s Cleveland Campus serves students online and at locations in Independence, Beachwood and Westlake/Crocker Park. To learn more, contact University of Phoenix at (216) 447-8807 or (800) MY SUCCESS, or