How Co-op Programs Add Value To Your College Degree

17.06.22 11:15 PM Comment(s)

Finding the funds to obtain higher education is a task. While student loans help you get started with your higher education journey, they put you in debt as soon as you graduate. A co-op program as a part of the degree can help fresh graduates tackle student debt more effectively.  

Co-operative education (co-op) is a structured method of combining classroom-based education with practical work experience. A cooperative education experience, commonly known as a "co-op", provides academic credit for structured job experience, and is taking on new importance in helping young people to make the school-to-work transition. The University of Waterloo in Canada embraced co-operative education 60 years ago, combining academic studies with work experience to aid aspiring engineers. In the 2000s, Waterloo partnered with what is now called Blackberry Limited, formerly Research in Motion, maker of the Blackberry device, to hire and train students in hopes they would become employees after graduation. 

Apart from providing academic credits, a co-op program offers multiple fold benefits such as: 

Supplements Tuition Fees 

Co-op programs let a student earn fair wages which can be used to cover the college expenses to some extent. This can also contribute to reducing student debt upon graduation. Though the income earned is not a huge sum, the combination of work experience and pay essentially increases the earning potential by increasing future employability. Besides, if you have sound knowledge of investments, you can further earn returns on your earnings. Something to think about! 

Develop Professional Skills  

Being a part of your curriculum, co-op gives you a chance to bring classroom learning to reality. You can test your knowledge and fine-tune it to industry standards even before you start your professional career. Moreover, you can gain a wide variety of skills, insights, and knowledge that make you highly competitive when you reach the professional stage. While other competitors have only had theoretical knowledge of their field of study, you will have already had real-world experience. 

You also gain a sense of work ethic and industriousness that you can’t solely get from standard classroom education. This will help improve your productivity in academia too. 

Increases Employability 

Co-op work experience enhances your employability factor. Companies constantly seek fresh talent with new insights and thought processes to outperform their competitors. With relevant and substantial work experience on your resume, employers are not just assured of your theoretical knowledge but also your passion for your profession is highlighted.  

Even better, some data indicates that students who graduate with co-op experience tend to start jobs at a higher salary because they enter the workforce with more experience. 

Improves Job Search Skills 

Like any other job, a co-op requires you to go through the same recruitment process as a normal job. Right from searching for a placement, building resumes, and getting through the interview process to finally being hired, co-op refines your job search skills at each stage. After finishing your co-op, you are more acquainted with the industry requirements and how to present your skills to future recruiters. Defynance offers a pool of job search resources to best assist our income-driven student loan refinancing customers and job seekers at large.  

Professional Networking 

As you are not restricted to the classroom setup of learning, there are higher chances of meeting more and more professional acquaintances beyond the student community. We cannot oversell the importance of professional networking. This network is not limited to peers but extends to mentors who can guide you in your professional career on a long-term basis. Also, peers who disperse to work for other companies can be a good source of reference when it comes to job search.  

Though co-ops are gaining popularity thanks to their known benefits, they still need to be established as a measure of reducing student debt. Students can be provided with financial education before signing up for student loans to make well-informed decisions.  

Make sure to check out this compiled list of Top Colleges with Co-Op Programs by AdmissionSight.