No manager or CEO will agree to pay for your education if it means you won't be able to continue to do an excellent job as an employee. Your boss may fear that you'll start coming in late and missing deadlines because of your new responsibilities as a student. Address these concerns up front. Show your manager how much time being a student will entail and where that time will come from (which should be from your own recreational and personal time, not from your job). Reassure your boss that your work performance will not be sacrificed and even offer that should your work decline, you'll agree to quit school.
The last concern your boss may have is whether or not you'll stay with the company after you get your degree. If an employer feels that you are just using the corporation to get a free education and will jump ship after you are done, they won't be willing to support you. You may offer to sign a contract to remain with the company for a minimum of one or two years after you graduate. The specific length, of course, depends on the kind of education benefits they provide. Don't be too anxious to make this kind of commitment since you don't want to lock yourself into an agreement that you can't keep or that will make you totally miserable.
When you speak to your boss about education benefits, it may be helpful to have everything written out. Eventually, you'll want to sign some type of agreement that outlines the responsibilities of both you and your employer. It's important that you are able to speak frankly to your employer about each of these issues to make sure that there are no misunderstandings or hidden concerns.
There are many reasons that a company would want to help you pay for your education. The obvious reason is that an advanced education would help you do a better job. By paying for a computer course, for example, your employer knows that you'll be able to use these newly learned skills to improve your daily work and therefore become a more productive employee.
Another reason a company would be willing to pay for your education is that it is a benefit for recruiting better workers. If you are choosing between two similar jobs but one offers to pay for career development classes that you take while employed, you will probably accept their job offer.
A third reason that a company would offer to help pay for your education is to keep you with the company. Since you only get these benefits as an employee, you must continue to work for the company while you are also getting your schooling. Some companies may even make you sign an agreement to work for them for a certain number of years in order to get your education benefits. It's a tradeoff. The company agrees to pay for your education, and you agree to work for them for a certain amount of time.
There are many ways to approach your employer for help in your education costs. And, just like Dickens' character, Pip, you may find that you do have a benefactor after all.
Gen and Kelly Tanabe
Founders of SuperCollege and authors of 13 books on college planning.
By: Gen & Kelly Tanabe
Learn how to go back to school without going broke. This is the only book that shows you how to find the best scholarships for adult students, get your employer to pay, have your student loans forgiven and much more.