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Starbucks’ takes a bold leap as it launches college education program

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Last Monday, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced that his company would pay for its workers, including those who only work 20 hours per week, to earn their bachelor’s degree online through Arizona State University’s online program. Starbucks, which, according to the New York Times is the first company to go where no other has gone, is reinventing the traditional school model for the better. The opportunity given to Starbucks employees to earn their bachelor’s degree online, almost free of cost, is a step forward for educational opportunity.

According to The New York Times, being a minimum wage employer, Starbucks has always done “unusual” things, such as providing health insurance and stock options even for those working part time. The program is open to any of its 135,000 US employees and only requires them to work 20 hours per week to be eligible. Employees must also have the grades and test scores to comply with admission requirements for Arizona State, stated The New York Times. 

According Deseret News, “Students beginning as freshman in the program will see a greatly reduced tuition cost for their four year degree, whereas juniors and seniors will likely receive their last one to two years completely free.”

Deseret News reported that Schultz stated that there is “no doubt that the inequality” in the country has left many Americans behind. He questioned whether we should remain dormant to the situation or take action.

Shultz claimed that this program was not being used as a PR move, and said he couldn’t care less about marketing. According to Forbes, Schultz stated, “This is about the future of our company doing what’s right for our people, and also, sending a message to the country that we can’t build a great company, and we can’t build a great, enduring country if we’re constantly leaving people behind.”

Starbucks has started an innovative way for students to pursue their college education. Although online courses have always been offered here at Cal State Long Beach, it would be interesting to see how students on our own campus would benefit from such a program. This would greatly benefit students in the whole CSU system, and could possibly help remedy the issue of bottleneck courses.

According to Forbes, ASU’s online program is “one of the largest in the country.” The program has over 11, 000 students enrolled, which includes 6,700 undergraduates.

“The program is a profitable one for the university because of the lack of infrastructure requirements and the ease with which professors can teach more students,” Forbes reported.

Schultz knows that, by providing this program, employees will naturally leave their Starbucks position with a degree in hand. He acknowledged that, by doing this, he believes that their experience would be “accreted” to Starbucks, according to The New York Times. Schultz believes that this program will attract and retain better people for the job.

Enrollment for the online course will begin on August 15, with classes starting on October 15.

Starbucks higher-ups have taken a bold leap forward by offering to help fund employees’ educations. The company is not just speaking about it making change – it is taking immediate action. It is difficult to tell where this program might take the coffee franchise, but in terms of having minds and money in the right place, there’s no doubt about Starbucks. 

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