West Virginia University at Parkersburg has revamped its cooperative (co-op) education program to introduce new procedures and a new look. The program, which is expected to be fully implemented this fall, now provides a more uniform and structured experience to enhance quality for both students and employers.
Through co-op, students can attend classes and receive college credit while earning valuable practical experience and wages. Co-op students are also able to connect with area businesses and industry through working jobs that specifically relate to their career goals and college major.
“Cooperative educational opportunities are invaluable to students as they not only provide a means of access to training and positions, but also increase students’ chances of continuing employment” said Dr. Rhonda Tracy, interim president for WVU Parkersburg. “That is truly great for our students and also benefits partnering businesses in the community.”
Connecting students and employers is central to the mission of WVU Parkersburg. The revitalization and restructuring of cooperative education is part of an initiative to include practical work experience in course-based learning.
The college’s new processes make it easier for businesses that employ co-op students to report their progress. The new web-based system allows students to now apply online, view and download syllabi and assignments, and view pages specifically for the courses in which they are enrolled.
Jennifer Randolph, WVU Parkersburg coordinator of career services and cooperative education, said, “Co-op creates a powerful way for students to learn. It helps students gain real world experience, provides businesses with educated employees, and connects the college to area employers. It’s a win-win-win for everyone involved.”
More than 30 area businesses and organizations are now involved with the program, and that number is expected to grow as the new procedures are further developed in the coming semesters. To increase the number of employment opportunities for co-op students, new partnerships are continuously sought by the college; particularly in areas related to business, information technology, healthcare and education.
Co-op students can participate in the program full or half-term. They must have a 2.0 minimum grade point average and 12 previous hours at WVU Parkersburg.