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Is Tuition Reimbursement A Benefit All Companies Should Consider?

Recent Blog Posts - 09-22-2014 16:36
Not every company offers tuition reimbursement, but every eligible employee should take advantage of it.

From Starbucks with its thousands of workers to Phoenix-based HMA Public Relations with its seven employees, the value of an education is honored – and better yet – paid for. Thousands of businesses offer some kind of college-tuition assistance, and apparently, others can be talked into it. By offering a tuition reimbursement program companies are showing employees and applicants that you value them.

A tuition reimbursement program truly invests in each employee by providing them with advanced skills which will have a positive effect on their future whether that future is with your company or not.

  Employees are Demanding Tuition Reimbursement

Since talented job applicants will be fielding multiple job offers companies need to beef up their offerings beyond a high salary. Many employees and potential employees recognize the value in higher education and are motivated to continue their education throughout their career.

Abbie Fink, vice president and general manager of HMA Public Relations, said she made the reimbursement for helping her get a master’s degree at Arizona State University part of her hiring contract more than 20 years ago. At the time there wasn’t a formal tuition-reimbursement policy, but now HMA employees get help with college classes, as well as with other professional-development training opportunities.
“It doesn’t necessarily have to be about public relations or leadership, but something that makes sense for us, the employee and the client,” Fink said, pointing out HMA paid for her to learn Spanish.

  Employees Want To Be More Marketable

For Gen X and Millennial employees (generations of workers more likely to have multiple jobs and careers throughout their lifetime) having more education and professional training can make them more marketable. These generations also are keen on making a difference, and a college education and professional training can help do that.

Savannah Ohl, the project and traffic coordinator at Elevation Marketing in Mesa, Ariz., said she sold her company on the idea of reimbursement, and now “I'm able to apply what I’m learning in school to my career in real time.”

And, Perri Collins, then-communications manager at the Arizona Newspaper Association, said she knew she needed help paying for school as she was about to start her senior year at Arizona State University. “I was trying to brainstorm alternative ways to pay for school, she said.”

A continuing advocate for employer-tuition assistance, Collins said, “I think it's a great way to build loyalty with employees, encouraging them to stay longer with the company. Plus, they get a better-educated workforce, which benefits the company in the long run.”

Mike Kintner, director of marketing and operations for Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino near Phoenix, said not only did the parent company Caesar’s Entertainment help pay for his MBA from the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management, he encourages his own staff to take advantage of the tuition-reimbursement benefits and take courses that relate to Caesars Entertainment business.

“You see them really grow and blossom, they go from just doing stuff to really understanding what’s going on to having a say and adding more value.”

Mike Kintner, Director of Marketing and Operations for Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino

Caesars Entertainment offers 90 percent up to $3,000 for undergraduate studies in a 12-month period, and up to $4,000 for graduate studies. The company also partners with Northcentral University in offering tuition discounts to its employees.

Economic Downfalls Caused Companies to Cut Tuition Reimbursement, But They Appear to Be Bouncing Back

However, and perhaps as a reflection of the economy or trends in changing benefits, tuition-reimbursement programs have taken somewhat of a hit in recent years. This during a time when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the cost of tuition consistently has increased faster than the overall inflation rate since 1981.

Although fewer organizations are offering undergraduate tuition assistance in favor of additional health-care benefits today compared to 2010 – 54 percent versus 62 percent – according to a 2014 report by the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), such a benefit is highly regarded.

This year’s top 10 employers -- picked by the Families and Work Institute and the SHRM for the 2014 When Work Works Awards – offered employees tuition and training support as a benefit. 

Well-known companies offering tuition assistance include: Apple; Chevron; Dell; FedEx; Google; Gap, Inc.; General Mills; Hilton Worldwide; Oregon State University; Monsanto; J.M. Smucker; Raytheon; UPS; Verizon; and U.S. Airways, according to College.lovetoknow.com

Northcentral University partners with many large companies in the U.S., including Caesars Entertainment, in offering tuition assistance

As Abbie Fink of HMA PR said of being an employee, “It’s nice to have employers value your education and see what it does for you.”


Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

10 Ways Technology is Impacting Learning in Higher Education

Recent Blog Posts - 09-18-2014 15:32

Higher education in the United States dates back almost 400 years to Harvard University, the well-known model of the traditional brick-and-mortar institutions. In the four centuries since, technological advances have changed the way education is delivered and received.

Alex Solis, an English instructor at East Los Angeles, has been teaching at the community college level for the past seven years. She shared the level of changes in teaching strategies she has experienced due to technology have been “massive.”

Here are a few ways technology is impacting learning in higher education, in both traditional and online settings. 1. Interaction with Instructors

The movie Raiders of the Lost Ark has a scene where the protagonist, an archeology professor, tells his students that he is available for office hours on certain days and at certain times. Another scene has him leaving his office via the window to escape the throng of students. According to Solis, technology has opened different avenues with students.

“Video chat and instant messaging are now being used for online office hours as well as online tutoring at some colleges,” she said. “This allows students to supplement the one-on-one instruction they get in office hours with ease.”

2. Companion pieces

Whether through a traditional or online setting, Solis said a trend of using technology to supplement courses is developing.

“Online sites like Moodle, eTudes, and Blackboard have opened up huge changes in education. Students can see pictures and videos uploaded by instructors, and upload their own when they think they have something that contributes to the academic discourse,” Solis said.

3. Extended classrooms

Solis said technology has aided instructors by using web-based platforms to interact with students and help students interact with each other outside of the classroom.

“Students can give each others' papers online peer reviews, saving on classroom time and eliminating the tentativeness that comes with the fear of hurting someone's feelings by giving suggestions,” she said. “Teachers upload lectures after they've been given for review, and they often ask for student reflections online as a way to allow students more time to digest material before they respond to it.”

4. Changing the format

While online learners are used to not sitting in a classroom or auditorium, Solis said online platforms allow students to attend class – and learn – remotely.

“Because the lectures are uploaded and available at any time, teachers can spend more time in the class adding to what was covered in the lectures,” she said. “Many of my students are more engaged and it is easier to start a discussion. And it lets me know who has done the work one their own and who hasn’t.”

5. Disappearing textbooks and easier organization

According to the latest annual survey conducted by CourseSmart and Wakefield Research (1), of the students surveyed at 500 enrolled college students across the country, the most useful technological tool was the interactive textbook. Nearly 30% of the students surveyed listed their laptop as the most important item in their bag, as opposed to just 10% who listed their physical textbook.

According to the survey, 31% of the students felt e-texts made lessons easier to understand; 23% reported e-texts helping complete assignments quicker and 21% felt digital textbooks helped them stay more organized.
In addition to disappearing textbooks, Solis said she has noticed that students aren’t carrying around large binders or taking hand-written notes in class as much.

“More and more students are taking notes with their laptops and tablets,” she said. “There are lots of apps that make it easier for students to stay organized, like Evernote or LiveBinders.”

Alex Solis, English instructor at East Los Angeles

6. Better ratios

Attending a brick-and-mortar institution can offer students an opportunity to physically interact with other students and instructors. However, the instructor-to-student ratios can be extremely high, excluding instances when a course is taught by a teaching assistant.

At many online universities like Northcentral University, the ratio is lower. For example, in every course at Northcentral, the class size is one. Northcentral offers a one-to-one teaching model based on the Oxford Learning Model.

7. Wider audience

Online classrooms have expanded the walls of the institutions of learning. Through the Internet and social media, students can take part in the same class from around the globe.

“Classes that are held completely online are still a little contentious among some brick-and-mortar educators in terms of effectiveness,” Solis said. “But the audience has greatly expanded.

8. Research

Instead of going to the campus library to do research, students are utilizing online libraries more today for research.
“Nearly everything is available online, provided students have access to the right database. No one goes through the archives, looks at microfiche, or checks out a book anymore,” Solis said. “Unfortunately, this also means students often come to college without strong reading backgrounds.”

9. Plagiarism

Solis shared that because so much information is readily available via the Internet, she has seen more plagiarism over the years.

“Plagiarism is a huge problem in education because of the tremendous number of cheating sites,” she said. “Plagiarism check sites like TurnItIn.com are becoming essential for instructors because students have easy access to papers online.”

10. Time saver

The latest annual survey conducted by CourseSmart and Wakefield Research , reported that nearly 70% of the students surveyed reported technology in and out of the classroom helped them save at least two hours a day when working in class, doing homework or studying.

“There have been so many adjustments teachers and students have had to make with the changes in technology,” Solis said. “Some of it is amazing because it has changed the way teachers teach and students learn in such a short amount of time.”

Alex Solis, English instructor at East Los Angeles

Has technology had a positive impact on your education?


Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

How Therapists Use Social Media

Recent Blog Posts - 09-09-2014 16:12

Social media has become an outlet for people to post, like, share, and comment about anything from what they had for breakfast to the most revealing personal and intimate parts of their lives. Every second, individuals express their sentiments and viewpoints on political, cultural, socioeconomic and other topics across social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Reddit, Yelp and more.

“The use of social media is certainly rising in all areas of life, and it can be a great tool. It can also be a great danger,” explains Wayne Perry, Ph.D., LMFT, core faculty and Director of Clinical Training at Northcentral University’s School of Marriage and Family Sciences.

If you're a therapist looking for social media platforms to benefit your practice, you've got options. It can be used as a marketing tool for your practice, a way to connect with patients, an opportunity for networking with peers, and can help you find new resources for educational content on the behavioral sciences discipline.

Personal vs. Professional

It is important to establish a difference in your personal and your professional social media presence. Therapists should be able to connect with friends and family, but be cautious reaching out to clients through social media. In fact, principle 1.3 of the AAMFT Code of Ethics prohibits therapists from engaging in relationships that could potentially become exploitative of the client or that could impair the therapist's professional judgment.

“Being too self-revealing in the social media outlet or forming a friendlier relationship via social media certainly runs the risk of violating this key principle of the Code of Ethics,” expresses Perry.

“Being too self-revealing in the social media outlet or forming a friendlier relationship via social media certainly runs the risk of violating this key principle of the Code of Ethics

Wayne Perry, Ph.D., LMFT

Restrictions aside, you can have a professional social media presence while obeying the restrictions of the Code of Ethics. Many professionals disclose their following and/or posting policy within their social media bios, so their followers and fans are aware they are under Hippocratic Oath."

Ultimately, social media can be utilized appropriately by therapists, and can also be a great resource for prospective patients who may be seeking help. Perry advises, “If clients see the therapist as one who is hopeful and helpful in a social media environment, they are more likely to seek that therapist out when life gives them hurts that they are not able to deal with on their own.”

Educate Yourself & Others

The amount of information that is available to us throughout the Internet is never-ending. As a therapist, sharing content with your fans or followers can help educate them on types of therapies and methods for managing a healthy well-being. If you decide to have a Facebook page for your practice, a blog where you share advice or a Twitter account where you connect with other like-minded therapists, it is important to carefully consider what type of information you are sharing. “Consistent, relevant and enjoyable information is the key in any of these areas,” explains Jared DuPree, Ph.D., LMFT and Director of Assessment at NCU’s School of Marriage and Family Sciences.

Psychology Today has a great index of articles written by experts in marriage and family therapy and psychology. This information is promoted on their social media sites, and MFTs can subscribe to the content via RSS feeds. It is through resources such as these that many therapists use social media for content curation and as an educational tool to keep up new developments in the field.

Promote Your Practice

Social media is an effective way to brand yourself and your practice, and , some therapists choose to market their practice via these means.

“I would recommend that therapists and businesses have a Facebook page and a Google+ page. Both help with search engine optimization (SEO) and tend to reach the demographic most professionals are trying to reach.”

Jared DuPree, Ph.D., LMFT

You may also use social media to support your philosophies or way of life. Annabelle Goodwin, Ph.D. and Foundation Faculty at NCU’s School of Marriage and Family Sciences notes, “I recently saw a therapist link to a Pinterest page. She used this to ‘pin’ inspirational quotes and images she found to be meaningful. I [think] it is a nice way to offer a piece of herself [to her patients] while still maintaining clear boundaries.”

Networking as a Professional

Social media has made staying connected and meeting new people faster and easier than ever before. In the field of therapy it is not only an educational and marketing tool, it can also be used for networking and communication to help therapists connect to a global community of patients, colleagues, and scholars.

Keely Kolmes, PsyD., a clinical psychologist at a private practice in San Francisco and writer of A Psychotherapist’s Guide to Facebook and Twitter: Why Clinicians Should Give a Tweet! explains, “I’ve been able to connect with other providers who also use social media through Twitter, draw them to my blog and writing, and find others whose writing and perspectives are meaningful to me. With several of these people, without ever having met face to face, we have shared joint projects. I’ve found myself being interviewed, co-authoring pieces, and speaking at professional trainings, all via Twitter.”

Social media has made staying connected and meeting new people faster and easier than ever before. Social media is an educational, marketing, networking, and communication tool that helps therapists connect to a global community of patients, colleagues and scholars.

As a marriage and family therapist, how are you using social media?


Categories: NCU Recent blog posts

Transitioning from Military to Civilian Life

Recent Blog Posts - 09-05-2014 10:37

Servicemembers hear it all the time: prepare, prepare, prepare. For most though, planning their transition from military to civilian life, is easier said than done.

Whether it’s readjusting to family life or translating military service into civilian careers, reintegrating into the real world comes with its own set of challenges for servicemembers and spouses alike.

There are many different unique concerns when transitioning into civilian life

Dr. Thomas F. Matta, PhD and Core Faculty Member at NCU’s School of Marriage & Family Sciences, has been working with active duty and retired military servicemembers for almost fours years now. He hears first-hand the concerns servicemembers and their spouses have when it comes to translating their military careers into civilian ones.

“Enlisted men who do not have college training speak of going into careers in security or law enforcement,” he explains. “Some speak of going on to school to get a bachelor’s degree in ‘vocational viability.’”

With a focus on topics related to the changing landscape of higher education, Dr. Matta counsels these servicemembers and their spouses on retraining and finding stable opportunities in a declining job market.

“I’ve advised them to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) careers as it will provide a livable wage and be less affected by volatility in global markets that result in employment disruptions,” he says.

Dr. Kristi Harrison, PhD, LMFT, a Foundations Faculty Member at NCU’s School of Marriage & Family Sciences and a colleague of Dr. Matta, is a military spouse herself. With a husband 12 years in the military already, she sees many families struggle with the process of transitioning out of active duty military everyday. She understands their anxiety, despite some of them already having earned their undergraduate or graduate degrees.

“The military lifestyle is unique and provides a lot of structure that cultivates a specific set of skills,” says Dr. Harrison. “These skills do translate well into the civilian work sector. However many military folks don’t have experience with translating their skills into a civilian culture.”

Dr. Kristi Harrison, PhD, LMFT

Another colleague, Dr. Elaine Willerton, PhD, LMFT, is a Core Faculty Member at NCU’s School of Marriage & Family Sciences who’s had the benefit of teaching many servicemembers and their spouses in her courses.

“Honestly, they are some of the most hardworking students I have,” she says, explaining how servicemembers just know how to get things done despite their work and/or family commitments.

“I had one student who submitted her assignments from a ship on the other side of the world,” she says, illustrating how NCU removes constraints many brick-and-mortar institutions would be hard-pressed to eliminate.

Dr. Willerton too notices the common thread among servicemembers and veterans: the belief that military “transcripts” do not translate well into civilian resumés. That’s why she recommends veterans and servicemembers in the process of transitioning out of the military, seek out professional help with their resumés.

“Servicemembers can benefit from working with career coaches who can help them “translate” their military experience into civilian terms,”

Dr. Elaine Willerton, PhD, LMFT

Online Education provides the flexibility and convenience for servicemembers

As Dr. Matta continues to work with active duty servicemembers from the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he believes NCU is uniquely positioned to assist them as they separate from their military careers, for a number of reasons.

No Relocation is necessary

First, he believes servicemembers have lived in many different locations throughout their military career and most report being “tired” of the frequent moves required for each mission.

“By attending NCU, the servicemember can choose to live in an area that best suits the family’s preferences rather than requiring the family to move yet again while they pursue their degree where the school is located, with no guarantee that this is where the family will eventually settle,” Dr. Matta explains.

His colleague, Dr. Harrison also believes for some families this is the first time a spouse’s career can be a driving force in relocating. In fact, the flexibility of pursuing a degree online could provide newly civilian military families the best of both worlds.

“Spouses can be advancing their careers, while the former servicemember is working on the transition to the civilian work sector,” she says.

Allows more family time since they can complete degrees while at home.

Second, Dr. Matta’s findings reveal servicemembers leaving the military are interested in being with their families more, in hopes of “redeeming the time” lost due to multiple deployments.

“NCU is a great choice as the medium permits the servicemember to be more in tune with the multi-faceted familial and personal obligations he/she has as an adult,” he says.

Shorter timespan to degree completion

Third, Dr. Matta believes servicemembers are eager to complete their degrees in the shortest time frame possible so they can begin their civilian careers. With NCU, he feels students don’t have to wait the typical time it takes for a course to begin or be offered next.

“As a result, the servicemember stays on task for degree completion more readily than if they attended a ‘brick-and-mortar’ university,” he says.

Cost effective in conjunction with GI Bill

Fourth, Dr. Matta sees cost as being an additional concern for servicemembers transitioning from the military, especially for those where health care, saving for a child’s college education, and caring for aging parents require additional resources and expenses.

“The new GI Bill may pay for some of those expenses, but at a traditional ‘brick-and-mortar’ university, those dollars may not go as far,” he says. “Most studies show a considerable savings to students who pursue their degrees online.”

Finally, Dr. Matta strongly recommends consulting with academic advisors beforehand to see if an online education will suit the personal, familial and financial needs of a transitioning servicemember and his family members.



Categories: NCU Recent blog posts