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  • Glenn Davila

This Platform is Helping Employees Send Their Kids to College

Employees don't just want their employer to help them pay down their student loan support — now, they want help sending their kids off to college, too

Eighty-eight percent of parents have used time at work to help their teen with homework, plan for school, prepare for college or aid in their post-high school career search, according to a recent report from educational consulting platform Empowerly. As employers look to add benefits that address the needs of the whole family, college admissions support is the next stage where employees are seeking support. 

"In recent years, we've seen the evolution of family support benefits to include fertility, adoption and early child care — traditionally niche benefits that have become important parts of competitive benefit packages," says Jonathan Murray, head of Empowerly for employers. "But what we're seeing is that there's still a gap in support for the parents of teens, and college admissions support is the important next evolution of those benefits." 

A quarter of parents admitted to spending an estimated six to 15 hours per work week on college and career planning, according to Empowerly, with 95% of parents indicating heightened levels of stress when thinking about their children's futures. As a result, more than half of parents agree that college and career planning for their children has negatively impacted their mental health. 

"There's an opportunity for employers to show understanding of the unique challenges that are faced by parents of teens," Murray says. "Because this is a really difficult time, both financially and emotionally, and most parents have to do it alone. And without any support, they're kind of adrift."

Empowerly partners with companies as a voluntary benefit, offered for free to families. The platform starts working with kids around the ninth grade, and acts as a concierge service to help navigate every step they'll need on the road to their post-graduate goal, whether starting school or entering the workforce. Their counselors help students manage everything from which extracurriculars to take during high school, what their course load should be and how to find the right internships and projects that align with their goals. 

Every Empowerly counselor is paired with a family based on the counselor's specialization and experience, as well as with what the family is looking for. They then create a tailored landing page for the family that outlines their goals and tasks. Members also have access to other resources such as webinars and curriculums relevant to the path a child has chosen for themselves. 

"It's so important to provide a continuity of family care," Murray says. "Especially for recruiting and retention, because through those continuing benefits you show your workforce that an employee can mature and can grow with the company — not only in their skill set, but in their whole lives."

Seventy-one percent of employees reported they are more likely to stay at a job if college and career planning benefits are offered, while 74% would accept a new job if college and career planning benefits are offered, according to Empowerly's survey. And when asked what they wanted from employers, college admission support beat out comparable benefits like identity theft protection, legal services and nutrition and fitness counseling, coming second to only financial services. 

"Their workforce may be an employer's most valuable asset, but for employees it's their children," Murray says. "When you make an effort to provide for families, that's true comprehensive support." 

Source: EBN

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