College for America Blog

3 ways to encourage your employees to earn a college degree


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Posted In: Students, Workforce Insight

May • 5 • 2016

In a recent survey, 89 percent of College for America students said their work at College for America helps them build skills applicable to their current job. College for America is an important workforce development tool that will help you engage and empower your employees.

However, you and your employees can only benefit from a workplace-applicable degree program if they a) know about it and b) enroll. Here are the most efficient and effective ways to spread the word and encourage your employees to participate.

How do you encourage your employees to earn a college degree?

Encouraging your employees to go back to school is not an easy task. They are working adults with busy lives that extend beyond the day-to-day demands of their jobs.

We’ve done the research and we know that what’s most important to your employees when looking for a college is cost and flexibility in terms of when and how schoolwork can be done. As CfA Co-op members and partners, we’ve developed communications materials you can use that incorporate these messages.

How do you efficiently and effectively promote the program to your employees?

Using the three-pronged approach is the most effective way to communicate the College for America opportunity with your employees.

Broad reach. Start with broad outreach to your entire organization. Communicating beyond specific departments or business units will increase the likelihood of employee engagement. In a survey, 60 percent of employees said they would be more interested in a college program if they heard about it from their employer.

Send a companywide email, using research-backed messaging in a College for America email template. Make sure your primary call-to-action is the College for America landing page where employees can learn more about the program and apply.

  • If you are a Co-op member, you can send your employees here: collegeforamerica.org/join.
  • If you are a CfA partner, use your customized URL. If you don’t know what it is, contact your account manager.

Multiple touches. One email is never enough in the digital age; It’s too easy for a single email to get overlooked in a crowded inbox. Sending a few reminder emails is critical to employee engagement.

Do you have a company newsletter or breakroom? Beyond emails, printing posters and flyers for the workplace is an effective way to remind employees about the new benefit.

Leadership involvement. Ask supervisors to directly reach out to employees–a personal touch can provide the confidence boost a worker needs to give college a try (sometimes for a second or third time).

What’s the pay-off?

Our partner Anthem, Inc. closely followed our three-pronged approach and now has 1,539 employees enrolled in College for America. So far, 53 employees have completed their programs, and 20 percent of Anthem associates who have graduated from College for America have earned promotions.

Anthem’s success illustrates how sending a company-wide email to all employees, following up with reminder emails, and asking managers and executives reach out to employees is an effective way to encourage workers to enroll in College for America.

We have many successes beyond Anthem—in fact, more than half of College for America students report getting a promotion or increased responsibilities at work, nine out of ten are still with the same employer and two thirds have gone on to enroll in the bachelor’s program.

Here’s what employers and employees have to say about College for America.

“I used to wait for people to come to me for new promotion opportunities. But now I have a better sense of my potential and have started taking the initiative.”
— Darby Conley, College for America graduate, Anthem

“College for America has given me the ability to believe in myself and know that I can do it. I can bring positive, forward change for myself. And when we can do that, when that’s something that we’re able to do, we can pay it forward to others.”
— Shannon Ruane, College for America graduate, Penn Medicine

“The feedback received from those who have completed the program is nothing less than outstanding. We couldn’t be more pleased with our partnership with College for America and with the positive results we see from our employees, and offering this program allows us to be more competitive with larger companies when recruiting and retaining talent.”
— Catherine F. Lamson, Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of MEMIC, Co-Op Member

Ready to get started?

If you are a member of the College for America Co-Op, visit collegeforamerica.org/toolkit to download material to help you promote, attract, and retain great employees.

If you are a College for America partner, contact your account manager to put together an outreach campaign for your company.

We look forward to welcoming your employees to our learning community and helping you develop a strong workforce!