Do You Need a Coop Program to Get a Job?

I wanted to share with you a question that I received in response to my last post:

Is Any College Worth $50,000?

The gist of my blog post was that no school is worth a $50,000-a-year price tag and that some affluent families are looking at schools lower on the academic pecking order that provide discounts. That prompted one of my readers to ask about Drexel University, which happens to have a coop program. Here is Alisa’s question:
Any comment on whether it’s worth it to go for the 5 year 3 coop program, ie Drexel, to hopefully be in a better position to get a job after college (or after the Master’s!)? This will still involve more loans than we had anticipated…

Do You Need a Coop to Get a Job?

It’s my personal opinion that you don’t gain an employment advantage if you attend a school that specializes in coops like Drexel or Northeastern University. You can obtain internships regardless of where you attend college and these can lead to jobs and networking opportunities.
When you attend coop-focused schools, it’s highly unlikely that you will graduate in four years and that will generate more costs even if you don’t pay tuition during a coop experience.  Interest from student loans will continue to grow when you take longer to complete college and college tuition will continue to rise.
I know plenty of college students, including my daughter, who attends schools without coops who have gotten tremendous internships opportunities through their own initiative or through their schools.
As I’ve mentioned before, plenty of employers are eager to hire college graduates who have a liberal arts background. They want students who can think critically, collaborate and write well. Employers can teach you the technical skills you need. Way too many college grads don’t know how to write and a bunch of internships isn’t going to compensate for poor writing skills.
For those interested in this subject, here are some posts that you might find relevant:
8 Reasons Not to Get a Business Degree
10 Things New College Grads Need to Know About Jobs
‘Trust Us” Won’t Cut it Anymore
6 Great Ways to Pick College Classes

I’m going to have more to say about expensive universities in my next post. In the meantime, I’d love to hear what people think about the coop model of higher education.

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  1. Lynn, I like your blog and think you have a lot of smart things to say. But I really hate it when people use the example of one or two people — in this case, your daughter — as if it holds true for the 3 million-plus young people who will graduate from high school in 2012. It’s great that your daughter found internships on her own; not everyone will. It’s great that your daughter ended up loving her school; not everyone will. My daughter is entering Northeastern in the fall. A very decent financial package — not a free ride — but then again, I can afford to pay a good share, so why shouldn’t I? (She has been a pretty low-rent kid. I amortize the cost of college over 22 years at a little under 4 grand per year. Not a bad price.) The plus of living in Boston, with all it has to offer, not to mention being close to my family (I work for the State Department, and will be overseas), means something. And I know several young people who have graduated from NU with jobs directly tied to their co-op experiences. I get where you’re coming from, and respect it, but college (and life) isn’t always about the numbers or the spreadsheet. Financial suicide: wouldn’t recommend it. Paying a little extra to get what you want: that’s what money is for. Cheers!