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What a Co-op University Offers and Why it is Appealing

Do you know what’s a co-op university? What is unique about co-op? Can you name a few colleges that offer this? Let Insight share with you all about cooperative universities and why you may want to add a few of them to your college list!


Having worked at Northeastern University, famous for its cooperative education system, you may be wondering what exactly that is and if this system works for you. A co-op is a working term that alternates with academic terms usually after a year of core and preparatory classes. Due to this, if one secures work, the student usually will need five or more years to graduate. The co-op job must be in the field that the student is studying and is usually attached to a reflection class where they discuss with an instructor their experience. So how does this all work?


Let’s say you are studying data analytics. After taking freshman year courses that a student to concepts such as Python and R along with core classes, you will be eligible to work starting the summer before your sophomore year. Should you get work as a data analyst, you can work for up to two full terms before resuming your classes. Part of your freshman year curriculum will include a professional development class that prepares you for the workforce such as developing a strong LinkedIn and how to successfully apply to jobs and then conduct your interviews. It is incumbent on the student then to use this knowledge and apply to positions on their own – through the university usually has developed relationships with major local employers as a start-off point. Work is full-time and paid for the terms of working. Note, however, that students may “stray” off the traditional course sequence and therefore may not stick with the pace of other members of their incoming class cohort. Northeastern, therefore, offers most of its courses in all semesters, so students can pick up where they left off after their co-op has ended.


Students who are looking for a traditional college experience may not like a school like Northeastern where students will be alternating between work and classes. In a way, this makes the campus feel more pre-professional than normal, and often your friends will not be in class because they have a job! However, there is plenty of opportunities that the university gives for young students to join clubs, see their collegiate sports and gather in campus hot spots should they desire that.


Want to learn more about Northeastern? Check out An Insight to Northeastern University


The chance to have professional experience and a working position upon graduation is the goal for students who are looking to attend a co-op university. For example, I had one student from India co-op at Genetech as a Data Analyst and upon graduating was hired on an H1-B visa by the company. Similarly, I had a student studying project management who ended up working for EA Games after doing two terms of co-op there! Colleges famous for their cooperative educational programs include Drexel University, Carnegie Mellon, Purdue, and George Washington among others. If you are interested to know more about these programs and if this is a good match, feel free to reach out and schedule a meeting with an Insight counselor!


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