Advising Builds Effective TAP

A tuition assistance plan is a great benefit for employees. A successful tuition assistance plan that includes advising is a better benefit for employees and produces a great return on investment for the employer. Employees can pursue or complete a degree and reach their goals of professional growth and career development. Employers can develop a talent pipeline that will ensure they have qualified workers to carry out their business goals.

Business leaders report that they have problems finding qualified people for positions, large worker shortages are predicted in the next few years, and yet the unemployment rate for college graduates age 25 and older is nearly double what it was in 2000. A TAP that includes academic advising can build the bridge that covers all these problems.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation report Learning to Work. Working to Learn says, “the business community must realize that their stake in higher education needs to be greater. If employers take their engagement to the next level and contribute to creating career pathways, all involved parties benefit. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s (USCCF’s) Talent Pipeline Management (TPM) initiative encourages employers to think of themselves as the end-customers of the talent pipeline.”

Advising is an effective way for employers to increase their engagement in TAP. The Chamber of Commerce report shows how business can be involved with higher education institutions; these steps also apply to advising for employees.
Focus on ROI: Rather than simply offer TAP as a benefit, use the program proactively. Include advising that steers employees along academic paths to develop talent the business needs for growth.
Be transparent: Make business goals clear and make academic advising an integral part of a TAP program so that employees’ academic goals align with business goals.
Be intentional about competencies and link experiences to career pathways: When students have opportunities to relate their academic experiences to work responsibilities, both parties benefit. Applying academic principles to work practices makes both experiences stronger.

Mentoring and internship experiences are valuable parts of higher education. These are built into the job/education experiences for employees who work while they attend school. The Gallup report Great Jobs. Great Lives. states, “Mentorship and applied internship experiences are strongly linked to increased employee engagement, higher wellbeing later in life and graduates’ feeling that their degree was worth the cost.” Mentoring is a natural part of advising, and both their job and learning experiences are enhanced when student have the opportunity to apply what they are learning.

Work-related experiences to enhance learning are as valuable for working students as internships are for non-working traditional students. “Regardless of how graduates obtained their applied job or internship, they were no more or less likely to say their education was worth the cost, to say their university prepared them well for life outside of college or to acquire a good job quickly upon graduation — implying again that having an applied learning experience is far more important than the source through which students obtain these experiences,” the Gallup report states.

The value of advising as part of TAP is similar to the value of guided pathways that many colleges are implementing. “College students are more likely to complete a degree in a timely fashion if they choose a program and develop an academic plan early on, have a clear road map of the courses they need to take to complete a credential, and receive guidance and support to help them stay on plan.”