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Expert Q & A

How do you convince your employer to support continuing education?

You might be lucky enough to work for a company that offers flextime, tuition reimbursement, and other benefits to employees who want to continue their education. Before you can receive these benefits, however, you’ll probably need to justify why the company should invest in your education.

Ann Drapeau
Chief People Officer
VistaPrint Inc.

Q: How can I increase the odds of getting my employer to support my continuing education?

Whether you’re seeking flextime or tuition reimbursement, you first need to ask yourself how the additional formal education will enhance your performance at work. Even more important, you need to think about how the educational experience will be more valuable in the end than the work time you’ll sacrifice while going to school. If you can verbalize that and provide specific examples of how the degree or certification will enhance your contributions to the company, you’ll make a convincing case.

Also, come to the table with solutions. Putting an employee on flextime often requires some delegation of duties to other employees. Ease your boss’s burden by helping him or her come up with ways to keep the productivity flowing in your absence. 

Lastly, once you’ve been cleared for class time, be up front with your colleagues about your new time constraints. Doing so enables them to work around your schedule, and it minimizes the chances for unpleasant surprises down the road. Also, remember that everyone has commitments outside of work, whether it’s school, family, or other personal interests. So ask your colleagues about their time constraints, too. This will show that you’re willing to work as a team, and everyone will understand where each other’s boundaries lie.