Cooperative Education

Through Cooperative Education, Benedictine is blending the resources of the academic world and the business community to create students who are truly prepared for life.

Academic Achievement. Professional Practice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is Cooperative Education?
Q. Is this a new approach to higher education?
Q. Why has Benedictine University adopted this approach?
Q. Isn’t this the same thing as an internship?
Q. If my child never had a job before, will he or she get hired?
Q. What about health insurance while students are participating in Cooperative Education?
Q. What kind of support will my child receive in Cooperative Education?
Q. Above and beyond regular tuition, housing and fees, are there additional costs of Cooperative Education?
Q. If my child enrolls in Cooperative Education, are they guaranteed a part-time position with a local employer during their course of study?
Q. After the Cooperative Education employment experience is complete, will my child be guaranteed a full-time position after graduation?
Q. What assurances are there about the work environment during a Cooperative Education experience?
Q. Will the opinion of my child’s work-experience supervisor impact his grades or his ability to graduate?


Q. What is Cooperative Education?

A. Cooperative Education is an educational strategy that blends the resources of the classroom and the business community. A Cooperative Education experience provides students with practical work experience that helps them become stronger students and more valuable employees.

Q. Is this a new approach to higher education?

A. Cooperative Education has actually existed for more than 100 years. In that time, the concept has continued to evolve and become a more developed educational strategy. Now, with much understood about how Cooperative Education benefits students, businesses, and the community, Benedictine is infusing the Cooperative Education approach into the unique Benedictine experience to help its students thrive.

Q. Why has Benedictine University adopted this approach?

A. Benedictine University is passionate about meeting the education needs of its marketplace. Cooperative Education is an approach that makes good sense for students, businesses, and the community. In partnership with the business community, we can attract and develop the talent that businesses – and our community -- need to succeed. Cooperative Education is the hallmark of Benedictine's plan to become a leader in graduating young adults who are prepared for career success and to become vital community members.

Q. Isn't this the same thing as an internship?

A. No. It is an apprenticeship. Cooperative Education is distinct from an internship in several ways. Benedictine students must meet specific criteria, such as maintaining at least a 3.0 GPA and receiving a faculty nomination, to participate in a Cooperative Education experience. Cooperative Education is structured in a way that creates a unique partnership between employers and the University that leads to higher quality learning and a stronger workforce. Further, we ask employers to provide direct feedback about a student worker's performance and the content of the classwork that will help a student perform best in their selected field of study.

Cooperative Education apprenticeships are always a paid position with an employer, always offered with class credit, and span several semesters of the student's junior and senior years in college with one employer. Over time, the employer plays an active role in shaping the student's learning on the job and course content at the University. Internships, however, are often less structured, can be unpaid, offered with or without class credit, and typically last up to one semester as a student explores career options.

Q. If my child never had a job before, will he or she get hired?

A. Key to the Cooperative Education experience at Benedictine is your child's participation in required coursework. This includes the Foundations course, which must be completed successfully before a student can be hired by a participating employer. Your child will be trained and sharpened as a potential worker so that the likelihood of being hired and successful in the workforce is strengthened.

Q. What about health insurance while students are participating in Cooperative Education?

A. Students in Cooperative Education are still considered full-time students; therefore, his or her health insurance remains in effect.

Q. What kind of support will my child receive in Cooperative Education?

A. Cooperative Education students are coached personally by the faculty in positive and effective work habits that employers expect. In addition to their regular interaction with Benedictine faculty, your child will be mentored by their employer during the Cooperative Education employment experience. Finally, because of the design of the Cooperative Education curriculum, your child will work with other Cooperative Education students to process and synthesize their work experiences. These experiences will often be the basis of conversation in the Cooperative Education classroom and assignments.

Q. Above and beyond regular tuition, housing and fees, are there additional costs of Cooperative Education?

A. There are no additional costs to your child's participation in Cooperative Education, and because your child is employed part-time for three of the four semesters of their final years at Benedictine, their income may be used to offset the expenses associated with attending college.

Q. If my child enrolls in Cooperative Education, are they guaranteed a part-time position with a local employer during their course of study?

A. The heart of Cooperative Education is placing students with local employers who can give them hands-on experience in their field of study. It is our top priority, and we make every effort to place interested and qualifying students in Cooperative Education experiences. While we are continuously building and expanding relationships with local employers, we cannot guarantee a specific Cooperative Education placement.

Q. After the Cooperative Education employment experience is complete, will my child be guaranteed a full-time position after graduation?

A. Though many employers use Cooperative Education as a pipeline for talent development in their organizations, they are not required to employ our Cooperative Education students after graduation.

Q. What assurances are there about the work environment during a Cooperative Education experience?

A. The Office of Cooperative Education will visit each employment site during a Cooperative Education assignment to ensure that a quality and safe work experience is being maintained.

Q. Will the opinion of my child's work-experience supervisor impact his grades or his ability to graduate?

A. Each employer will be asked to evaluate their student worker's performance and share that information with the Office of Cooperative Education. While this information does not impact your child's grades, your child's performance at work will impact their employer's interest in retaining your child as an employee. Without the work experience, your child cannot complete the requirements of the Cooperative Education curriculum, and that may impact or delay graduation.

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Facts About Cooperative Education
  • It's been used as an educational strategy for more than 100 years.
  • Students develop extensive work experience and a more competitive resume.
  • In 2012, the national average wage for a cooperative education experience was $16.23.*
  • Nearly 50% of students who participated in cooperative education received full-time job offers.*
  • More than 70% of students hired full-time by cooperative education employers were retained five years later.*

* Source: National Association of Colleges and Employers: "2013 Internship and Co-op Survey Report"

Cooperative Education Employer Partners

Our list of Cooperative Education employer partners continues to grow. Click here to see a current roster.

Bradley J. Warren

Executive Director, Office of Cooperative Education
217-718-5302
bwarren@ben.edu

Benedictine University at Springfield

Brinkerhoff Home 203
1500 North Fifth Street
Springfield, Illinois 62702