When the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity founded Silver Lake College of the Holy Family in 1935, the Sisters all contributed to the college by working.
They ran the College and taught classes in addition to cleaning, cooking and maintaining the campus.
Now, the College is putting its students to work.
In a move that Silver Lake College President Dr. Chris E. Domes called a “watershed moment,” the College is poised to become the first Catholic institution of higher learning in the United States to become a Work College. It joins six other institutions nationwide.
Starting in fall 2016, all new Silver Lake College residential freshmen and transfer students will work as a condition of their enrollment to offset the cost of their tuition.
Named SLC Works, the new program builds on a long Franciscan tradition that values work, and the skills and ethics associated with work.
“As the College launches SLC Works, it is most fitting to ascribe its significance to our Franciscan heritage. We are articulating a culture of collaboration, community, respect, and servant leadership that are foundational to our Franciscan values,” said Sister Lorita Gaffney, the College’s Executive Director of Mission Integration.
The Work College is an added incentive to those students who may think that the cost of a private Catholic college is out of reach.
In exchange for 10 hours of required weekly work, Silver Lake College students will receive a $2,800 tuition credit per academic year to be applied toward their educational costs. This is in addition to generous financial aid packages, scholarships and grants.
Work College graduates report their college costs to be significantly lower than those of their peers. Eighty-eight percent of Work College graduates recently surveyed said that their work program experience was an important way to reduce their college costs, according to the Work Colleges Consortium.
Not only does a Work College program reduce debt, it provides on-the-job training, skills and real-world work experience that are valuable now and will be later in life. In other words, students are building their résumés while earning a degree and increasing their potential when they try to land that first job after graduation.
Freshmen and sophomores will be given on-campus positions that help them concentrate on improving their liberal arts skills, such as communication and critical thinking.
Juniors and seniors will focus on moving up the ranks to supervisory positions on and off campus, including internships in their fields of study, so they can apply management skills and put into practice what they have learned.
The College plans to officially apply for Work College status in the near future (institutions first must have at least two years of Work College programs under their belts before they are eligible).