Jobs offer more than just a paycheck

Students who are currently employed now have the opportunity to earn academic credit for their jobs.

Through the Career Development Center’s Cooperative Education program, students who demonstrate that their job contributes to their education can earn up to 12 300-level credit hours toward a degree, according to program coordinator Kelly Harper.

“The goal is for students to gain work experience in conjunction with their education,” Harper said.

Cooperative education allows students who must work to pay for their education and lifestyle to simultaneously earn income and credit hours.

Of all full-time students, 74 percent of full-time students work while attending school, and 46 percent of full-time working students work 25 or more hours a week, according to a study in an article by Mary Beth Marklein of USA TODAY.

“It’s almost as if they’re trying to work two full-time jobs at the same time – going to college and paying for it,” said Jonathan Orszag, managing director of Sebago Associates, an economic consulting firm that conducted a study on working college students.

Senior Heather Michelson, psychology major, is taking 18 credit hours and works 16 to 20 hours per week at a preschool. She said she believes her job contributes to her education.

“I work with children and after I graduate I would like to counsel children,” she said.

Michelson said that she would have been interested to see if her job would qualify for the program, but she is already set to graduate in December.

To determine which jobs qualify for academic credit, CDC staff members consider the student’s major and career goals to see if the student can gain leverage with the company. The main focus is helping students choose and prepare for a career path after graduation, Harper said.

The National Commission for Cooperative Education maintains that Cooperative Education “can enhance the quality and level of employment results for graduates.”

Nearly 40 percent of all Cooperative Education students get full-time employment offers upon graduation, according to the CDC.

Students can earn up to six credit hours per semester toward a degree, but the number of credit hours depends upon the student’s job duties and whether or not they will be exposed to new experiences at the job, Harper said.

“A person could have been with a company for 10 to 15 years, but we look to see if the student can take on new responsibilities,” she added.

Even if a student is not currently employed, the CDC can help students find a job that qualifies for academic credit.

“We work with students so that when you graduate you have a connection to the working world,” Harper said.

Students who would like to find out if their job qualifies for academic credit or would like help finding a job that qualifies should contact the Career Development Center in University Center 230 at 572-5680 or by email at