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Colleges That Connect Work and Learning

students in construction hats

Some colleges actively integrate classroom learning with learning from work experience. Sound interesting?

Do you want to investigate a career or do you simply like to learn through practical experiences? If "yes," consider colleges that offer experiential learning programs.

Three Types of Programs That Integrate Work and Study

Cooperative education. Cooperative (co-op) education programs integrate classroom learning and work experiences throughout your college years. Co-op students alternate periods of work in the field with periods of academic instruction on campus. The work is often paid.

Internships. Internship programs help students find temporary work that relates to their studies. Some programs integrate classroom work into the internship and even dedicate blocks of time in which all students participate in internship experiences.

Service learning. Many colleges strongly encourage or even require community service work. Service learning programs link that service to academic instruction. Work experiences may take place during the academic session or during breaks between sessions.

What to Look for in a Program

Almost all colleges offer internships and volunteer programs. Look for colleges where these programs are integrated with the academic curriculum and supervised by professors. The college should evaluate the work experiences as well as encourage and support your participation.

How to Find Colleges with Experiential Learning Programs

Look first for colleges that interest you in other ways and then evaluate their internship, co-op, and service learning opportunities.

  • To find out if a college has an internship or cooperative education program, check its College Profile on CollegeData. Look under "Special Programs" on the Academics page.
  • Search the college's website. At some colleges, you'll find experiential learning programs in certain academic departments, such as engineering and education. 
  • Ask college admissions representatives what kinds of experiential learning opportunities are available.

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