HigherNext and Education at Work Sign Strategic Partnership

Education at Work - Business Partnership

HigherNext Inc. (HigherNext), the creator of the Certified Business Laureate (CBL) Program & Exam, and Education at Work, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that exclusively employs college students to provide outsourced call center, back office and staff augmentation services, today announced a strategic partnership which would include HigherNext’s CBL program as a key component of the developmental program for Education at Work’s student-employees. As a result of the partnership, Education at Work’s student-employees will have access to the CBL accreditation tests at a discounted rate. Additionally, HigherNext’s CBL program participants will have access to employment opportunities through Education at Work, and HigherNext’s CBL program will be available to a broader exposure of corporate and collegiate partners.

Guy Friedman, the CEO of HigherNext, voiced his enthusiasm for the alliance, “This is a fantastic partnership that truly benefits all parties. Both of our student groups will benefit as they develop for career readiness, and this also greatly increases the awareness of our core skills certification program for the companies and organizations with which Education at Work is associated. Partnerships like these help to improve the employment situation for college graduates seeking entry-level jobs.”

GPAs, majors, degrees and work experience can vary widely across geographies and campuses. The CBL Program offered by HigherNext features a set of standardized jobs skills tests which serve to create a consistent measure of business skills and knowledge across all entry-level job candidates. These job skills tests cover five key business areas: financial proficiency, basic accounting, general marketing, Microsoft Office (Word, Excel and PowerPoint) and business writing. All candidates take the exam via a secure online portal where they are recorded by their own webcams to ensure fair administration of the testing environment.

David Dougherty, Founder and CEO of Education at Work, expressed his thoughts,”This partnership with HigherNext is key for the students we employ to develop the skills they’ll need to compete for real world jobs. This is yet another advantage we’ve found that helps to ensure that our clients have the best and brightest student workforce to assist their customers today, as well as to build their pipeline with great entry-level talent for the future.”

About HigherNext, Inc.
HigherNext, Inc. is a business-education firm committed to helping entry-level job seekers differentiate themselves while quantifiably demonstrating their abilities to prospective employers. The firm created the Certified Business Laureate™ Program, featuring a series of online standardized tests that cover practical business knowledge in five key areas: financial proficiency, basic accounting, general marketing, Microsoft Office (Word, Excel and PowerPoint) and business writing, and an accompanying certifying credential for top-scoring candidates. For more information, visit www.highernext.com.

About Education at Work
Education at Work is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization providing wholly outsourced or staff augmentation services for call center and back office operations of leading companies, delivered exclusively in the U.S. Education at Work employs an agent work force that is made up entirely of college students actively pursuing their degrees. Education at Work’s clients enjoy access to a high quality domestic U.S. service environment, pricing that is competitive with offshore markets – enabling them to repatriate American jobs, and a student population that can be a future talent pipeline for their firm. College students who work for Education at Work enjoy competitive base wages plus a tuition assistance program that pays up to $6,000/year, based on work and academic performance. Students can graduate virtually debt-free through Education at Work with fundamental skills that better prepares them for success in the 21st century job market. For more information, please visit www.education-at-work.org, or subscribe to the Education at Work blog: educationatworkblog.com. You can also find them on Facebook and LinkedIn.

HigherNext Media Contact
Name: Guy Friedman
Phone: 215.645.2383
Email: guy@highernext.com

Education at Work Media Contact
Name: Tim White
Phone: 513.351.1555
Email: tim.white@education-at-work.org

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How do you plan to pay for college in 2013?

Education at Work - Paying for College

Do you find yourself or your family starting off January 2013 concerned about how to pay for college? Well you’re not alone. With the cost of tuition at public and private institutions continuing to rise in the New Year, individuals and families are looking for new ways to cover the costs. The conventional solution, assuming you can’t just straight up pay the full amount, is to borrow the money through student loans, with the intent of paying it back gradually through a solid entry-level job and steady paycheck. But, this strategy often proves to be too risky and leads to a steep uphill financial climb. First, the assumption is made that you will land a well paying job fresh out of college and second, that the left over disposable income after making loan payments will be enough to support your living costs, which is often false. Thus, borrowing money to cover the majority of educational costs is not usually the best option for most college students. This is supported by the fact that U.S. student loan debt is on a continuous rise, currently above $1 trillion, and outpacing credit cad debt for the first time in history, which implies that not many students taking on debt are able to manage the payments.

So, how big of a concern should being able to afford college be for most incoming students and their parents? A recent survey by CollegeCountdown.com, which polled more than 3,000 parents with at least one college-bound child, found out that 80 percent of respondents reported some level of stress or anxiety related to paying for college. And 24% of the parents surveyed, “have not even factored college affordability into their search process”, while 46 percent are “unsure how much total debt their child is willing to take on to pay for college” and 38 percent are “unsure how much household debt they are willing to commit”. Based on these findings, it seems that many families feel overwhelmed by the high cost of college tuition and are underprepared for the best way to fit the cost into their household budgets.

Here are some helpful suggestions. Having a solid college plan in place sooner rather then later is the first step to take. This includes parents having a college savings account (529 plan) for their kids at a young age, then factoring college expenses into household budgeting and financial planning, considering schools within your means instead of based on brand names, and putting forth a proactive effort to identify all other programs that could provide some form of financial assistance (more details below). By following some of these calculated steps early on, most college students should be able to find ways to help pay for school without taking on too much debt, if any at all. Or, for those who are already deep in a mound of debt, they should be able to make efforts to reduce the total amount owed by the time graduation rolls around.

In a recent Huffington Post article, the writer encourages college kids to act now to take steps in the right direction towards lowering their student debt. The article claims:

“Students in college now can still take steps to make their student debt burden as low as possible by continuing to search for scholarships, grants and work study programs. Although primarily thought of as something a student seeks before entering college, many programs are still available for students entering their junior and senior years.”

These ideas for helping cover college costs, outlined in this article, tie in directly with the Education at Work mission. We believe that no matter what age you’re at or stage in your college career, there is still an opportunity to afford school, work at earning a degree and being able to graduate within a reasonable amount of time. From our perspective, taking on a part-time job while actively enrolled in school can help provide valuable work experience, as well as extra income that can go towards tuition payments. And, of course it never hurts to find a part-time employer that also offers college students the ability to qualify for tuition assistance as a benefit of the job. This can supplement nicely the other financing options you have in place, and in some cases, may be enough (depending on the employer, the amount they payout, and the cost of tuition) to cover yearly educational expenses. Therefore, having a well thought out plan and proper balanced attack will be the key to paying off the high cost of a college degree and avoid taking on excessive amounts of debt by keeping your head above water.

Please answer our quick poll and share with friends. We’d like to know “How You Plan to Pay for College in 2013?” We will report back soon with the results.


PR Newswire

Huffington Post

We’re Hiring College Students! Customer Service Jobs Open

Eduction at Work - Now Hiring

We have IMMEDIATE JOB OPENINGS available and are ready to hire you!

We’re looking for well-qualified college students in the Cincinnati-area to fill our open Customer Service Professional job slots.

Work at our site in Norwood, OH with our leading client in the e-retail industry.

JOB DETAILS: part-time, 15-20 hrs. per week, $9/hr. base wage + up to $6,000/yr. in tuition assistance.

We need to fill these open positions right away. We want to get you through the online application process, interview you and make an offer!

JOB OVERVIEW: Handles customer telephone calls providing outstanding customer service. By using job knowledge and information available. Makes every effort to answer the customer’s question / solve the problem. Educates the customer about company and services, and up sells and cross-sells other products based on customer’s needs.

RESPONSIBILITIES: Handles customer calls in a professional manner. Provides accurate Information to the customer. Effectively uses computer system for tracking, information gathering, and or troubleshooting. Takes every step possible to answer the customer’s question or solve the problem during the call.

QUALIFICATIONS: Must be able to perform data entry and basic computer skills. Excellent customer service skills and ability to articulate and explain information clearly. Previous customer service or call center experience preferred. Excellent telephone communication skills are essential. Good problem solving skills.

Apply online!
Or call Amy Ryan, Account Manager/Recruiter @ (513) 351-2102

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Tips on Managing and Avoiding Student Loan Debt

Education at Work - Student Loan Debt

We’ve addressed the issue of U.S. student loan debt in previous posts, but here’s a fresh take. After maxing out on student loans in pursuit of a college degree, many college students find themselves with more debt than they can handle upon graduation. Here are some suggestions that should help tackle this problem.

Unfortunately, student loan debt is already causing major problems in today’s economy, and these problems continue to grow. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York announced that the current student loan debt is a sobering $956 billion, and the rate of those who fail to pay has reached 11%. Consider the damage done to the economy when 16% of subprime mortgage holders refused or were unable to pay – non-payment of student loans could have similar effects.

But the outlook doesn’t have to be bleak. With focus and hard work, you can become a graduate who holds little to no student debt. How can you manage your money to earn your degree with as little debt as possible? There are many ways, and we have outlined them below:

  1. Save Early: If possible, parents should start a college fund for their children when the child is born – or even before! You should add to it when you can as well. A healthy savings account can eliminate the need for additional student loans or debt accrual to purchase things like books, pay rent, and other college necessities. If you save enough, a college fund may even cover most if not all of the tuition, depending on the institution.
  2. Avoid Accruing Debt: Yes, accruing some student loan debt may be unavoidable for some. But you can keep the amount of debt you accrue to a minimum. When accepting your student loans, think about how much money you will actually need. Often, it is significantly less than the maximum loan amount offered. It can be tempting to take all the money that’s offered, but think of your future self and how hard you will have to work to repay it. You can reduce the amount you accept – and be sure to reduce the amount of unsubsidized loans first. The federal government will pay the interest on any subsidized loans you receive, but not so for unsubsidized loans. Additionally, spend money mindfully and take care to limit purchases to necessities.
  3. Earn Money: One surefire way to avoid increasing your debt is to earn money. Getting a part-time job in college can help offset some of the future debt. Many students are lucky enough to have parental assistance or a savings account to pay bills and other expenses while in college. Even if this applies to you, don’t overlook the benefits of a part-time job. Not only can you start saving money to build a cushion for when you graduate, but you’ll also be learning job skills that could make you a more desirable employee when you do graduate.
  4. Take Advantage of Opportunities to Save: Many advice columns offer oh-so-sage advice like giving up a daily coffee to save $20 a week. While that advice might be good for some, it’s not addressing the larger problem of budgeting and saving. For college students, there are many ways to avoid taking on even more debt. This could include taking some courses at a cheaper community college (just make sure the credits will transfer), doing without certain extravagances, and applying for scholarships. Many scholarships are awarded yearly, so it’s not too late even if you’ve been in school for a while. Be diligent about researching and applying for any scholarships, awards, and other monetary prizes you can think of – with hard work, you might be surprised at how many you are eligible for.
  5. Research Carefully: Many students fall into the trap of chasing a degree they really can’t afford. Think about what your ultimate goals are. Keep in mind that it’s you, not your alma mater, that employers will be hiring. Decide if the program and what you will be learning is worth the price. Don’t fall into the “designer degree” trap and wind up with a degree from a well-known school, mountains of debt, and job prospects that aren’t any brighter than people who chose to attend more affordable, but lesser-known schools.

These are just a few ways you can combat the student loan issue on a personal level. But living debt-free requires attention and care to all aspects of your spending – so start being mindful now.

For more information visit Education at Work’s website.

Interview with Dave Dougherty, Founder of Education at Work, Inc.

Dave Dougherty

Learn more about the Education at Work mission from the words of our CEO, Chairman and Founder Dave Dougherty. We’re revisiting an interview with Dave from August 2012 that was conducted by Dan Monk, Senior Reporter – Cincinnati Business Courier. The main focus of this article was to get the word out about Education at Work getting off the ground. Also, to explain why it was started, provide some insight from Dave’s perspective about the importance of college education and how it has impacted his life, and to communicate the benefits of the program to prospective clients and Cincinnati-area college students. But, this is only the beginning. The long-term goal will be to expand call center operations onto a national level in order to employ 100,000+ college students part-time, which will allow them to more easily afford a college degree through our tuition assistance program. To read the full article and interview with Dave in its entirety, click on the link below to the Business Courier website.

“Education transformed my life,” said Dougherty. “The idea of something that transforms the lives of thousands of young people gets me pretty motivated.”

Read the full article at Business Courier.

For more information visit Education at Work’s website.

Education at Work: Organization Overview Deck

Download Education at Work Organization Overview PDF

Do you want to learn more about the Education at Work organization? If so, now is the perfect time to check out what we’re all about. We recently released this new slide deck that gives a brief overview of our mission, the problems we help solve, and our value proposition for college students and client-partners. And, of course the deck also includes some insightful data to back everything up. You can click the links below to either view the PDF of the slideshow online or download a version to share with others. We would love the opportunity for you to come work for us if you’re a college student, or do work for you if you’re a potential client in need of call center services. Take a look at the deck to see how we do business and learn more about what sets us apart.

Download Organization Overview PDF »

View Organization Overview PDF »

Facing the Facts on U.S. Education and the “Skills Gap”

This powerful YouTube video produced by the Literate Nation Organization delivers an informative, but “frightening” reality about the current state of U.S. education and literacy rates. The U.S. education data referenced in this video concludes that the quality of our nation’s education has fallen far behind other world powers on all education levels, including: elementary, high school, college and university. As a result, America is no longer in a class of its own as the global leader that produces the majority of top talent and innovation for global companies. Other countries are catching up to the U.S. at an ever-increasing rate. Right here and now is a critical turning point for the state of education in our country. If we don’t act soon to reform our education systems, then we risk falling even further behind.

There are several eye-opening U.S. education facts shown in the video. To point out a few: high school SAT scores are at a 40-year low, U.S. college graduation rankings have fallen rapidly from 1st to 12th globally, 80% of U.S. high school students’ daily study consists of low-level mental work (compared to countries like China that focus on math, science, problem solving, and high-level mental work), and our public school systems are struggling to keep up with teaching performance and classroom quality. Consequently, the majority of U.S. high school students, particularly those from low performing public schools, are not college ready. They lack the skill sets to get through a college curriculum and become productive members of our workforce. This creates a massive “skills gap” in America with 3.1 million job openings for “skilled” workers that American companies are unable to fill because our college graduates are not learning the job skills that matchup with the needs and requirements for available jobs. But there is hope…

How do we close this gap and help solve the problem of lacking education performance in our own country? From the perspective of Literate Nation, students need to be taught at a young age the necessary reading proficiency skills in order to develop intellectual curiosities, open doors for college degrees, and eventually land real-world jobs. At Education at Work, we support this initiative, and can offer up an additional perspective on how we also strive to help reduce the U.S. “skills gap” problem.

We focus our organization’s efforts on helping U.S. college students lower their college debt, acquire a set of applicable job skills, and find full-time jobs after graduation. In order to benefit the cause, we believe that American colleges and universities need to improve the teaching of core academic skills that translate directly to the workplace, such as critical thinking, professional communication, presentation skills and problem solving abilities, instead of primarily focusing on proving theoretical models. Additionally, we strongly believe that first-hand internship and work experience while college students are enrolled in classes will also help them learn the critical job skills they need to succeed. If our nation fails to ensure that domestic talent is properly educated and qualified, then we will continue to lose quality U.S. jobs to better educated, highly prepared, and (in some cases) more driven foreign talent.

Unfortunately, education in America no longer seems to be a top priority, but it needs to be for us to compete in a global society. There is a major need for the U.S. to generate more domestic jobs, continue producing top talent, stimulate our economy and work towards balancing our national budget as we approach the upcoming “fiscal cliff” in 2013. Through the Education at Work program, we’ve found out firsthand that many of today’s college students are lacking the critical skills they need to prepare for current job openings at U.S. companies. But, they have high learning curves and are eager to acquire these necessary job skills if given the opportunity, which is why we only employ college students to fill our part-time Customer Service Professional roles. We view this as a perfect starting job to allow our nation’s college students to gain experience and prepare for full-time job openings that currently exist, as well as future jobs that will exist, regardless of their current major or desired career path.

Thus, we believe that accessing an affordable college education with minimal debt and acquiring work experience along the way seems to be a proven formula to setup our next generation workforce for success. If we come together, Americans can focus their efforts on changing how we think about our education system, improve overall performance, and consider new ways to finance the increasing cost of a college degree and develop critical job skills. We need to get back on track as a nation, and no time is better then right now!

Stay tuned to our blog for a follow-up post later this week. We will be discussing some tips for college students on how to avoid accruing student debt while in school, and other suggestions on how to best manage your spending money.


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