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One has to like the move by Starbucks to pay tuition for employees to attend Arizona State University Online as juniors and seniors. It’s a wonderful offer that tells an employee that being a barista can be a step toward a better and more fulfilling career and not just the end of the economic road.
Is it the answer to America’s higher education woes? Hardly. There are lots of problems that a double-tall latte can’t solve.
But it does send a message that there’s enough money to be made from people buying expensive coffee drinks to divert some of it to bettering a worker’s education. We know lots of companies do that as one part of their benefits package. But no one has done it to the extent Starbucks plans, given the thousands of workers it employees and the prestigious university with which it will partner.
We know that there are some who doubt the value of an online education. While that may be somewhat true today, even more quality universities are offering such an education that can provide a career in a quality profession. Even better, students will be able to move on to that job without the crushing burden of school loans.
Starbucks is reaping a public relations windfall for its move — and it should. But we doubt thousands of new Starbucks coffee drinkers will flock to the locations in awe of the Seattle company’s generosity. At least we hope not: how much longer can the lines get before those at the end start dying of thirst?
And, we do see at least one other benefit Starbucks likely will see. With all those students having to pull all-nighters to get that term paper (or would it be a term email?) in to the professor, at least students should know where to go to get that needed coffee.