New Amazon Career Choice Program Pays Up to 95% of Education Costs

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Amazon encourages fulfillment center employees to go back to school with their new Career Choice Program.

Amazon announced their new Career Choice Program this week. Amazon wants to help employees at  their fulfillment centers around the country pay for higher education. The program is aimed at Amazon Fulfillment Center employees with a minimum of three years of employment with the company. The remarkable thing about the Career Choice Program is that it does not require employees to study in an area that would further their career at Amazon. Further, it only pays for degree programs in higher demand areas that are known to pay well, like nursing, aviation science, and more. The company will pay, in advance, for up to 95% of the cost of tuition, books, and course fees for eligible fields of study. This is great news for the affected employees and for schools.  In fact, this sort of initiative is why DegreeCast.comexists. A large group of people, some of whom probably thought that higher education was a dream they couldn’t afford, now have funding but no idea where to start looking for eligible programs.

Dear Amazon (and especially you, Jeff Bezos) -

Here at DegreeCast we applaud your bold new Career Choice Program. Not only are you helping your employees better themselves, but you’re helping them in a way that does not necessarily help your bottom line, too.

The program looks amazing, and we would like to be a part of it. Our 100% free to use higher education search engine can help your eligible fulfillment center employees find a school that fits the guidelines of the Career Choice Program, matches their interests and is convenient to them geographically.

DegreeCast.com’s in-depth search details over 10,000 certification and degree programs at more than 240 schools — and that’s just in the states with Amazon fulfillment centers.

We hope you’ll share our URL with your employees.  Even if you don’t, kudos to you for helping your employees fulfill their potential — and not just orders.

Sincerely,

The DegreeCast Team

It’s Launch Day for DegreeCast.com!

Have you been wondering what DegreeCast is all about? DegreeCast.com is a higher education search engine. It’s the first search engine to help prospective higher education students determine tuition and other costs associated with their preferred degree or program of study. And it launched today!

DegreeCast offers comparisons between schools and programs and provides a comprehensive data set of degree offerings at all levels. It currently features over 60,000 degree program listings from 1,800 colleges.

What does that mean?

DegreeCast is the first specialized search engine created to aggregate degree-level information across multiple schools and programs. It gives prospective students information regarding tuition costs, book costs, and institutional affiliations for internship purposes. It even shows the potential salary for a specific degree. Before today, students researching degree programs had to rely on horizontal search engines (Google, Bing). DegreeCast’s vertical search engine delivers in-depth search results. The goal is to make selecting a degree and narrowing the list of prospective schools a simpler process.

Bonus: Thousands of new schools and programs are being added to DegreeCast’s data set every month.

There are several billion-dollar market cap companies (Princeton Review, US World & News Report, etc.) which aggregate higher education data at only the institutional level. DegreeCast goes deeper into the data,returning detailed information such as a description of the program, department chair information, acceptance rates, credits, and costs. Until now users have not been able to access information regarding programs, staffing, relationships with corporations, or specific information such as book cost, credit and total program costs for multiple schools from a single online location. DegreeCast also offers several useful filtering options to make the task easier.

“Our dataset didn’t previously exist,” says DegreeCast CEO and founder Caleb Gandara. “This is a multi-year labor of love. We’ve been working for several years to build a foundation. DegreeCast now offers students access to deeper level data. Searches are faster and more to the point. We focus on simplicity and function in an effort to help students find their best educational match.”

College Rankings: The Other Inflation

How does your college choice rank?It’s the time of year when high school grads and their parents grab a copy of the latest college ranking publications from sources such as Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges and US News and World Report in hopes of slimming down their prospective colleges lists. While higher-ranked schools come with heftier tuition costs, we must ask: is it worth it? Are the college ranks giving you an accurate picture of the education you will receive?

We’ve got news for you: the recent trend shows rankings have changed and they give no guarantee you’ll be getting the quality education the higher price tag appears to offer. It’s time to read these reports skeptically and start finding supplementary sources of information to make sure your educational goal is met.

In the current Education Week, writers and researchers Frederick “Rick” Hess and Taryn Hochleitner collected and compared published college rankings from the past twenty years, and discovered the rankings system over the past two decades has changed significantly and caused what Hess considers inflation. With Barron’s, for example, he shares this data:

The number of schools in the top category doubled between 1991 and 2011. In 1991, 44 schools ranked as “most competitive.” In 2011, 87 did. The growth is due to a slew of institutions migrating up to the top tier: 17 schools moved up between 1991 and 2001, and 28 more since 2001. The ranks of the “highly” and “very competitive” have also grown steadily since 1991.

Hess goes on to ask: “Do these findings reflect more schools being ranked? Nope. The total number of schools in the rankings has barely changed, meaning that the distribution of schools has shifted.” In another publication for the American Enterprise Institute,  he writes: “[T]he club is not nearly as exclusive as it used to be.”

Barron’s isn’t the only college rank publisher whose top-tier college list has different criteria (and therefore, different weight) than it used to, but Hess and Hochleitner use it to illustrate one very important point in today’s college selection process: It’s one thing to go to a prestigious school. It’s quite another thing to get a meaningful education. Hess warns that students and parents must supplement these published reports with other sources of information to get an accurate picture of just how important one particular school’s ranking is over another’s.

Hess summarizes:

Rankings and labels can help prospective students and their parents navigate the college-selection process. But these labels need to be viewed with more care and skepticism than they often are. Faux exclusivity might be good for a school’s endowment or parents’ bragging rights, but it too often encourages families to pay top-shelf prices for store-brand merchandise. So, students and parents, choose away—but let the buyer beware.

DegreeCast, which launches before the end of June, can help fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle. With data straight from the schools, you can discover tuition costs, book costs, and individual program information, as well as information on the school’s staffing and relationships with various corporations. We’re excited about DegreeCast’s launch, and we hope to help students of all types — new, returning, and adult non-traditional — get the data they need to meet their own educational goals.

Aside from school rankings, what other criteria do you use to find the college or program that’s right for you? Leave us a comment and tell us what you’re looking for.