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Co-operative education

  1. May 7, 2006 #1
    The university that I will be attending starting September has a co-operative education program, whereby students in certain programs find employment through the school in industry or within the universiry in related fields, and go on work/study rotations during their studies in university. I applied to the co-op program thinking that it's easier to opt out of co-op after you've already been accepted than try to get in during your studies.

    Now's the time to start to seriously consider my options. There are pros and cons to both sides.

    If I choose to forget the idea and go the traditional route, I'll be graduating in just less than 4 years (it takes 4 years and 8 months to finish your average Honours degree in the co-op streams), will have free summers, and my studies will be more continuous (since I won't be gone for extended periods of time). I won't have to be moving around every 4 months, and in addition I'll have the option of studying over the summer (since the school is centred around the co-op system, the school functions all year round) so that I can graduate even faster.

    On the other hand, if I decide to follow through with the program, I could potentially get valuable work experience (either in industry or research), and help pay for my education as I go along.

    If it helps, I'm going into a mathematics program, and I found a list of what kind of jobs students in the past have found through the program here: http://www.cecs.uwaterloo.ca/students/prospective/math.php
  2. jcsd
  3. May 7, 2006 #2


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    Personally I think it would be extremely useful to have the work experience. Who cares if you get your degree faster if the only thing you can do is coursework? I think having the work experience would better your chances of being employed after you graduate.
  4. May 8, 2006 #3
    I was in your shoes last year trying to weigh the pros and cons of a co-op. I knew that it would basically add another year on to my schooling but it might jumpstart my career upon graduation. In the end I decided to do it and I can't give you a real "look back" on my decision yet because I just started last week but its been great so far.

    I have been assigned to work side by side with an engineer in my field, If I learn half as much every week as I did last week I'm gonna be set after graduation. I've already spent 2 of the 5 days on site at power plants (I'm a ME major). It really helps clear a lot of things up if you see it in motion.

    I guess I knew that I made the right decision when I was interviewing for the position (great interview experience too). Every employer I talked to was really excited about the oppertunity for the company and the student. They really do distinguish between co-op and non co-op student after graduation. Many of them told me that the Universities put out "smart but useless" people. The first year you are pretty much useless as an engineer, thats why its so hard to get that first job. They look at a co-op student as basically having a year of experience.

    Many employers told me that they never hire graduates right out of school, they keep their co-ops or they hire someone with experience. Its worth your time in my opinion and I have never heard anything negative about the experience. It would be interesting the hear from someone who has completed a co-op and can reflect.
  5. May 14, 2006 #4
    Consider me convinced. I think I'm going to go for it. Thanks a lot for your replies!
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