BizTimes Media: Lakeland University’s co-op program addresses student debt crisis, workforce shortages
Our innovative Cooperative Education program continues to attract attention as we tackle the student debt crisis and provide students new opportunities to earn professional work experience. Check out the full article by BizTimes Media.
When Randall Moyer chose to enroll at Lakeland University in 2017, he had resigned himself to taking on a hefty amount of student debt.
But when Moyer met with his counselor at the private, liberal arts college in rural Sheboygan County, it was fortuitous timing for the self-described “penny-pinching” freshman.
The university had just launched a new cooperative education program that placed students in jobs with area companies to gain professional work experience, while also earning college credit and wages to defray their tuition cost. If he followed the university’s financial advising, he was told he could graduate with little to no debt.
“I was kind of shocked at first,” Moyer said. “I was like, this seems like an opportunity that’s almost too good to be true. They essentially pay us to get credit and work. It’s real-world experience, and we’re going to school and we’re getting credits for it.”
Now as a junior marketing major, Moyer is positioned to graduate with less than $10,000 in debt, having worked in the housekeeping department of the American Club in Kohler while also taking Lakeland classes.
As enrollment in Lakeland’s co-op grows, leaders say the program has fundamentally changed the 170-year-old university’s delivery of higher education, and positions it to be competitive among the many other small, liberal arts schools in the Midwest. About 90% of incoming freshmen for the 2020-‘21 year have indicated their intention to enroll in the program.
Meanwhile, more than 85 area employers, including large businesses, such as Johnsonville Sausage LLC, Bemis Manufacturing Co. and Acuity, along with nonprofit organizations and school districts, have partnered with the university...