Academics and location are obvious factors to carefully consider when choosing a college. But one consideration often left unthought of is — where your college or university of choice will leave you professionally and financially post graduation. Will it give you work experience? Will it leave you in debt or in good financial standing? Or, will you be so busy focusing on your studies that it would be nearly impossible to find time to even apply for a job?
It is a known truth that most employers require previous work experience. Any job application will have three to four empty fields to fill with previous employment information, making the job application process difficult for first-time job seekers. Many students spend college in classrooms and libraries and are fed a plethora of theoretical information, but given very little practical training.
The Work College model offers a unique solution to the problem many young adults are facing when confronted with an experience-driven job industry. Find out how the Work College model helps prepare students for their post-graduation career.
Learning through experience
In a Work College, education is not merely theoretical, nor is it confined to one’s specific major. It operates under the belief that categories of knowledge are all connected and all students ought to understand the connections between them.
For example, an accounting major who only studies debits and credits isn’t exposed to where math fits into society. But an accounting major who helps in the Office of Financial Services also begins to understand its applicability.
When students are asked to complete their academic studies alongside their participation in a work program, they begin to make connections about how the world works with what they’re learning. There is never a time when education is divorced from experience. With this, students can understand that society functions like a body and every part has a necessary role.
The value of developing great work ethic
Students who complete a degree and graduate successfully have worked in the sense that they faithfully adhered to the requirements of their program and all the assignments therein.
Students in the Work College model learn the meaning of work on a deeper level when they choose an area of study or when certain areas of study don’t come naturally to them. They may need to devote time to understand the material. But any students who consistently apply themselves to the habit of rigorous study will find that work ethic is a learned skill, and it comes easier with time.
An alternative to the traditional college method
The Work College model is where a college will hire students for certain kinds of work and student earnings contribute to their cost of attendance. This helps students afford college, it could reduce the debt of those who choose to go, it cuts down on operating costs for colleges and gives students tangible work experience.
Participation in the Work College each week inevitably exposes students to work. Most work colleges have students begin with work that allows them to gain experience in hospitality, communication and conflict management.
An example of an area that could provide experience in these areas is food service. Many programs allow students to transition to a job in the community that suits their chosen major in the later years; but either kind of work teaches competencies that will be beneficial to their future occupation goals.
What better preparation is there for the workforce, for running a household and for adult life?
Comparing life-after-college experiences— what the graduates say
If we’re talking pragmatism, the hard data backs up the monetary value of the Work College model. For example, Business Insider says the average debt of Work Colleges graduates in 2010 was $12,121 compared to $27,710 for private nonprofit college graduates, $21,740 for public college graduates and $33,050 for graduates of private, for-profit colleges.
If we’re talking well-rounded members of society, 83 percent of Work College graduates say their college experience had a major impact on the way they appreciate and exercise their civil rights and responsibilities. And, 84 percent report their experience is helping them get along with people of various races and backgrounds, and people whose attitudes and opinions are different from their own.
Finally, and most importantly, if we’re talking about graduates who feel equipped to succeed in the adult world, 75 percent of graduates agree their college work helped prepare them for their first job and 87 percent agree that their school experience allowed them to develop and use effective leadership skills.
The Work College model aims to produce responsible, thoughtful and hardworking members of society, graduates who are ready to enter the workforce with confidence and with as little debt as possible. And judging by the numbers, the model succeeds at each and every one of these lofty goals.
Are you considering attending a Work College? Silver Lake College invites you to download this free guide and learn more about what it looks like to attend a Work College and participate in a program such as SLC Works.