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Superb School Co-operate Education
One Benefit of Co-op Education: Likelihood of a Job

Article from New York Times

DETROIT - The recession could give new life to co-operative education, programs that combine college classes with jobs in related fields that have been around for more than a century.

Cautious employers "increasingly see that hiring a co-op graduate is a good strategy, since they know they are getting someone with experience," said Paul Stonely, president of the National Commission for Cooperative Education, a trade organization based in Boston.

The popularity of co-operative programs peaked about 15 years ago, before the federal government discontinued financial assistance. Now, colleges must rely on companies and agencies that are able - and willing - to take on young, temporary employees.

About 400 colleges offer co-operative programs, with the biggest enrollment in about two dozen schools.

Nationally, 95 percent of co-op students that participate in co-operative education have a job when they graduate, according to the commission. More than 60 percent accept permanent jobs from the employers for whom they worked while in school.

"Employers have the benefit of trial employment, they have the ability to try these young people out," said Peter J. Franks, executive director and associate vice provost of the Steinbright Career Development Center at Drexel University. "And they're getting people with fresh ideas."

Drexel, in Philadelphia, has offered co-op education since 1919. As at Kettering University in Flint, Mich., students attend class six months, then work six months. About 1,600 university-approved employers participate in programs that are available in all 73 majors.

Co-op education is required in a third of Drexel's courses, and 92 percent of its students, many in business and engineering take part, Mr. Franks said.

Drexel enrollment has grown to 21,537 last year from 12,016 in 1999. And the co-op program "is one of the main reasons they came here," Mr. Franks said.

Most Drexel students work in the Philadelphia area, although the trend among co-ops is to offer more options out of state, and even globally. Half the students are expected to be offered permanent jobs by their co-op employers.

Companies also save money because co-op employees do not receive health insurance or other benefits.

Although the university has placed about 1,000 students in internships annually since 2000, the number of students obtaining positions fell 20 percent last fall compared with two previous semesters, said Jody Queen-Hubert, executive director of co-op and career services at Pace.
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