This week Starbucks announced its partnership with Arizona State University (ASU) to cover tuition costs for Starbucks employees. The company promises full tuition reimbursement for employees newly and currently working toward their bachelor’s degree. If only this were eight years ago, when I went to college!
I started at Pace University in 2009, and the loans accumulated faster than I could pay them. I was working a full-time job managing a team of 12 representatives while bartending at night just to pay off those loans. It was too much, and I opted to take two semesters off.
At risk of wasting the time and money I had already invested toward my B.A., there was no way I was going to quit college. I decided to try Pace’s online classes (and some excruciatingly random all-day-long Saturday chemistry and math classes that ruined my soul), recommended by my guidance counselor.
This partnership is a great way to gain a solid work ethic while simultaneously getting an education without the high tuition costs we so desperately try to avoid (some even make it a career to go to college for decades to avoid repayment and believe me, I’ve thought about it!). However, this online education came with some ups and downs.
Online classes were an excellent timesaver — no traveling to and from campus, which also helped cut down on costs. I also got to chat with my professor as she questioned whether we truly knew what Feminism was and how it would apply to our everyday lives…while wearing my pajamas. Downside? I lost face time with classmates and teachers, resulting in one-dimensional electronic relationships. Additional perk: I could always use the excuse that my Wi-Fi wasn’t working if I was in danger of missing a deadline.
Peer pressure was virtually (see what I did there?) non-existent. There weren’t any opportunities to go on all-night bingers, singing “Rent” songs in the middle of the street, passing out on the long train ride home. Downside? I am the only person at work-related happy hours who doesn’t know how to play beer pong.
I missed out on the whole living-on-campus life, so I didn’t have many friends in college. But the upside there is that with living on-campus comes roommates, and with roommates comes headaches. So, I successfully avoided the whole passive-aggressive post-it wars I heard all my friends talk about years later when they left random underwear in the middle of the dorm.
While I joke and sometimes rant about how much I hated my college experience – there was no other way I would’ve graduated. Programs like the one Starbucks is now offering is one I urge all students to take advantage of – besides, there’s nothing worse than falling asleep on your laptop before hitting save on a 20-page paper. So if an establishment that provides unlimited coffee to its employees, like Starbucks, is willing to pay for your college – sign up NOW.
Jenni Ruiza is an NYC-based comedian and actress. Co-founder of Comedy Girls Productions, LLC, she performs sketch, improvisation, musical parodies and stand-up. She is continuing her studies at The Peoples’ Improv Theater in NY and can be heard on a monthly podcast, “Comedy Girls”. For more on her, visit www.jenniruiza.com.