Co-ops…What’s That?

This is an active Pennridge Chemistry class, which incorporates STEM topics that could lead to co-ops in college.

When most people are asked what a cooperative program or co-op is, they have no idea. This is just one of the issues with the new and immersive way of learning. A co-op is a form of work-study in the college system where you can work in your field while earning credits for school and hopefully securing a job after you graduate. 52 percent of students in college participate in a co-op program, and 61 percent of them benefit from walking out of graduation with a secured job. The opportunities, currently, are mainly limited to the STEM field, but with more popularity and participation, we can work towards expanding the field availability of this type of program.

When in the program, you normally have a lighter class load blended with an estimated two days of work in your perspective profession. High school athlete Ron DiPietro stated, “Depends on what your schedule looks like, but if you’re basing it off of a basic school schedule, then not for me,” when asked about how he felt about an adjusted school schedule. This is yet another example of there not being enough awareness about this program. Most students don’t understand that they can have an adjusted schedule in a co-op.

Not everyone learns in the same way, and that should be respected even in higher education. For example, an auditory learner would not benefit from a physical memorization activity the same as a kinesthetic learner would. Parent of graduating highschooler senior Debbie Moyer agrees and mentions, “I think it provides students with a different way to expand their learning. People learn in different kinds of ways, and students shouldn’t only be prescribed the one way.” when asked about if co-ops should be available in college.

Awareness and knowledge of this program need to be better spread so that the resources and knowledge of this learning technique can grow and consume more fields. Parents and their kids in high school should be told about this opportunity prior to choosing their major and prospective schooling. Not only do co-ops help better your education while in college, but also provide you with more experience in your field. You have the ability to work hands-on with your respected field and also the people around you. This gives you a more “robust resemble” when you are looking for a job outside of school if you are part of the small population that did not secure one prior to graduation. You have the ability to, as a student, make connections and market yourself for a real out-of-school job while earning your degree.