A new way of helping students pay for college: Give them corporate jobs

Some undergrads are answering customer service calls for Microsoft and other companies

The Hechinger Report recently reported that more students are working for Corporations to help pay for College doing service jobs.

More than 300 University of Utah students are working for Microsoft answering service calls arranged by a nonprofit called Education at Work.

Founded by a call center executive, EAW sets up partnerships between universities and large employers to provide jobs like these. The employers get reliable employees and prospective hires while the universities can offer students a novel way to work for tuition and keep their loan debt low.

As students struggle with college costs and the strain of balancing work and school, Education at Work provides a little-noticed new way of leveraging corporate America’s thirst for skilled talent and colleges’ desire to tout how well they prepare young people for careers. The nonprofit employed 488 students on four campuses last year and has plans to expand to 1,521 by 2021. EAW’s University of Utah graduates end up with half the student loan debt of their peers, the organization reports.

Education at Work has similar arrangements with Arizona State University, Northern Kentucky University and Ohio’s Mount St. Joseph University. The companies pay EAW, which then pays the student workers, while the universities provide the office space. The University of Utah spends about $600,000 a year for the lease, utilities and janitorial services for the three floors Education at Work occupies in the downtown Salt Lake City building.

Students typically work 16 to 20 hours a week through EAW, the upper limit of what some experts say is acceptable during college; research by an offshoot of the organization that administers the ACT college admissions test has found that students who work more than 15 hours a week are more likely to fall behind in their academic progress and to graduate on time.

As for the quality of the students’ work, Scott Blevins, a senior vice president at EAW said the Salt Lake City office has “one of the highest customer satisfaction results” Microsoft has seen on the consumer side of its business.

Accustomed to hitting the books daily for their classes, Hedrick said, students learn faster than traditional call-center employees.

For an age group more at ease typing into a phone than speaking, the EAW experience may help strengthen office skills. In fact, students are expected to leave their phones in lockers before starting their shifts.

The full story was published at Hechinger Report here: https://hechingerreport.org/a-new-way-of-helping-students-pay-for-college-give-them-corporate-jobs/