Decision-making and problem solving are undeniable aspects of life which individuals are faced with at every stage of adulthood. A systemic approach to this process that analyzes the problem, considers various options, and engages in a decision based on available information – is a competent method for critical thinking in such situations. This paper will review a problem scenario and attempt to present a solution through a series of logical steps.
Define the Problem
The scenario’s primary problem is the choice to transition to a new company, which despite many benefits does not offer tuition reimbursement. This is problematic since the new company will require a master’s degree, meaning that those costs will have to come out-of-pocket. The problem is multifaceted, combined with the primary issue is the problem that the start date is during the final exams, which presents a logistical issue. Furthermore, it is likely since the new company does not offer tuition reimbursement and the position begins as one finishes up the bachelor’s degree, the tuition for it may have to come out-of-pocket as well (this is speculation as it is unknown how much tuition the previous company has already reimbursed).
Educational assistance programs (also known as tuition reimbursement) are a common fringe benefit used by businesses to attract or maintain loyalty from their employees while increasing the overall skills in the workforce to achieve their necessary strategic objectives. Many employers link the reimbursement to continued employment or successful completion of the educational program (SHRM, 1).
The average cost for public university tuition in a business bachelor’s program is $36,000 for completion, while a master’s degree will cost approximately $60,000-80,000 to complete (Hummel, 2). Therefore, the main problem centers around the cost of education that will be required for long-term employment and success at the new company.
Analyze the Problem
The combined costs of tuition are a significant financial burden, even if taking out student loans over long-term payments. Tuition reimbursement in the current company is a significant benefit in addition to loyalty and familiarity. With the necessity to cover education costs out of pocket in the new company, the $15,000 salary increase will only become relevant in 6.5 years if that full bonus will go towards covering tuition.
One thing to consider is that attaining a degree will likely increase salary and promotion opportunities in the long-term in either company. However, it seems that the new company operates at a higher level given the benefits, starting salary, and level of education among its managers – which presents a significant opportunity for both self-development as well as career and professional opportunities, that will reflect in the financial well-being eventually. There is also the minor problem of the starting date falling on the final exam period. It is a logistical issue if one accepts the new position that can likely be resolved either with the new employer – as receiving the bachelor’s degree is a critical step towards a master’s degree, or with the university, by taking the exams early.
Given the facts, there are three distinct options in this case:
- Option 1: Decline the offer and remain with the current company. It will allow one to complete the bachelor’s degree, which will be reimbursed financially by the employer. The significant experience in the company alongside the attained bachelor’s degree places one as a frontrunner for a promotion that will bring a modest salary increase.
- Option 2: Accept the offer from the new company and transition there. Bear the costs for education, for the master’s degree, and most likely the bachelor’s degree using the salary increase. Enter a new company and begin acquiring experience. One negative is having to uproot one’s life and move to a new state.
- Option 3: The third option is the least likely but nevertheless possible. One presents a counteroffer to the new employer, suggesting a negotiation of the existing agreement with the current company to reimburse tuition upon completing the bachelor’s degree. Since the new company is seeking to hire you in this transitionary period as the bachelor’s degree is being completed, they should cover any costs associated with the attaining degree that the old company will not cover if you leave them. It is also possible to negotiate since one is directly acquainted with the supervisor, to defer employment by some time, allowing one to complete the degree and achieve reimbursement prior to leaving the company.
- Option 4: This option does not depend on your actions but rather the current company of employment. If one chooses to accept the competing offer and notifies the current place of employment, it is possible that in order to retain your talent, they will provide a counteroffer, such as a promotion or a salary raise as an incentive to stay.
Option 1: The new company and position are definitively a step up from one’s current circumstances. It will continue to challenge you for years to come given that it will require both moving to a new location as well as attaining a master’s degree. Moving to a new city and another company greatly helps one’s development, rounding out skills and experience as well as meeting new people and building a broader network (Knight, 3). Meanwhile, going to graduate school opens up numerous possibilities professionally and financially, with most in-demand jobs requiring a master’s as it provides greater skills and career-changing opportunities (Chamorro-Premuzic, 4). Overall, although short-term, the transition will be challenging in all aspects, professional, personal, and financial, but the new company offers significantly more in terms of long-term potential.
Option 2: Relocating for a job is a big and complex decision. It takes into account various personal factors such as family, lifestyle, adaptability to change in addition to professional. Even with promising professional opportunities, moving for a job may not be the right decision if analyzed from a holistic perspective. Ultimately, it is more of a personal choice than anything else – centering around one’s satisfaction and comfort. It is common for people to decline job offers due to reasons of having to move (Knight, 3). Staying with the current company provides stability, the possibility of minor promotion, and financial security, not having to worry about tuition reimbursement.
Option 3: Realistically, this option is possible although unlikely. It carries some amount of risk, considering despite one’s experience and job performance, you lack the credentials (master’s degree) to work in a supervisory position. Furthermore, it seems that the position is being offered due to the direct recommendation of one’s previous supervisor; therefore, such counterdemands could risk the offer being withdrawn. However, it is not uncommon to negotiate various benefits in the process of accepting a new job, with professional development (including tuition reimbursement), being one of the top demands (Wicker, 5).
If approached appropriately, it may help provide clarity in one’s decision without necessarily damaging any relationships with the new employer. It is unlikely that the position offer could be deferred, as it would be filled by someone else.
Option 4: Despite option 4 seeming like an ideal situation, it is more complex due to the fact that one announced that you want to leave the company. This may undermine trust and have social effects. In a national survey, 40% of senior executives and HR leaders indicate that taking a counteroffer from one’s current employer will result in adverse outcomes for one’s career, but 78% agree that in some situations it is sometimes appropriate to accept a counteroffer (Kay, 6).
Make Your Decision
The best decision in this scenario would be a mix between option 1 and option 3. Therefore, one should reach out carefully to negotiate regarding benefits for tuition reimbursement, with an indication that you are planning to take the job. However, the final decision should be to take the new job and move locations.
Implement and Reflect
Implementing the decision will be done by reaching out to the supervisor who recommended you and seeing if he can connect you with management or HR and vouch for you in negotiations regarding potential tuition reimbursement, even if it means cutting back on some other benefits or even salary. You will indicate that you are intending on taking the offer, but this will be a significant plus to encouraging you. Regardless of the negotiation outcomes, you will finish the bachelor’s degree and transition to the new company, where one will begin working and completing a graduate program. The long-term benefits for one’s life simply outweigh other options, as it will lead to better career opportunities, better education, and better salary. The salary will continue to increase with experience and promotion in the new company, which will cover and justify the out-of-pocket costs for education in a span of several years.
Making life decisions, both big and small, can be challenging when put in a dilemma such as discussed in this paper. One has to consider a variety of factors and opportunity costs of the options not chosen. A logical, step-by-step approach helps to derive a logical decision that is most beneficial in consideration of present and future circumstances.
SHRM. n.d. Designing and Managing Educational Assistance Programs. Web.
Calla Hummel. 2017. The Average Costs of a Business Degree. Web.
Rebecca Knight. 2018. How to Decide Whether to Relocate for a Job. Web.
Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic. 2020. Should You Go to Graduate School?. Web.
Alden Wicker. 2016. 5 Often Overlooked Benefits That You Should Negotiate With A New Job Offer. Web.
Kelly O. Kay. 2019. If You’re About to Take a New Job, Should You Consider Your Boss’s Counteroffer?. Web.