Working toward an eight-course certificate can help students gain confidence in educational opportunities
Many students we talked with shared that they were nervous or reluctant to go back to college. However, because the commitment was relatively small—eight courses—and the outcome was concrete and immediately useful—an industry recognized certificate—students were willing to take the risk. After they started classes, they discovered that college was not as difficult as they had imagined. Students talked fondly of doing homework next to their own kids, and feeling proud of the grades they made. Others shared that they hoped to continue their education later, and were excited that program laid the groundwork. Having the opportunity to gain additional certificates, by taking just a few more classes, also increased their feelings of success.
The Retail Management Certificate (RMC) may give students an edge in hiring and promotion decisions.
We consistently heard employers talk about the increased opportunities that an RMC student could receive, including preference in hiring, promotion, and wage increases. Employers are willing to offer these incentives to participants and completers because the RMC teaches skills that employers believe are crucial to successful careers in retail management.
Students already employed in retail but want to move forward may be able to get financial and other types of support from their employers.
We observed many different types of support that employers were willing to give to their employees who wanted to improve their job opportunities in the company. Types of support that employers provided students in this program include tuition, reimbursement for books (or instituted a textbook borrowing program), flexible work schedules, formal praise through events or company newsletters, and opening space on their location for onsite classes. Employers saw the benefit of a more educated workforce, and often have funds to support their employees.
Student support services are most effective when colleges ensure that students are aware of the services and seek them out.
Nearly all students we interviewed explained the importance and value of student support staff in helping them reach their goals through the variety of services offered. For students to receive these services, whether from a designated RMC counselor or an academic advisor, colleges should continue to promote these services so that students are aware of the opportunities that can help them succeed. Additionally, student support staff noted that most of the time, they had to reach out to students via email, text, and phone calls. If the colleges promote the role of the student support staff, then students can begin to seek services more independently.