Through the Cooperative Education Program, students can explore career and academic options, pretest career choices, put academic theories to work with professionals in their field, polish personal and professional skills, and earn money to contribute to their educational costs. Cleveland State University offers the Cooperative Education Program in all undergraduate fields of study and most graduate programs. Co-op students work in positions that are closely related to their academic areas of study and career interests. Work experiences are typically scheduled during alternate semesters beginning in the sophomore year. In some cases a parallel schedule of part-time work is available.
There are three basic requirements for admission to the Cooperative Education Program: students must have earned at least 30 semester hours, be in good academic standing prior to the first assignment, and have completed the one-credit-hour CSC 121 Career Orientation course. Transfer students are also eligible to participate in co-op.
Application for admission usually is made in the freshman year or, in the case of a transfer student, during the first semester on campus. Application requirements are satisfied when the student completes CSC 121, which presents detailed regulations and procedures for obtaining the greatest value from the co-op program and aids students in clarifying their career goals and sharpening their job-search skills.
All co-op students are required to register their co-op experience with the university. CSC 300 provides for academic credit in recognition of the educational value of the cooperative education experience. In this way, one credit is given for each co-op experience completed. This credit is not counted toward the number of hours needed for graduation, but it will add academic hours to a student's credit total. The academic credit maintains a student's full-time status while on a co-op job. CSC 400, a non-credit option, is also available. However, CSC 400 does not maintain a student's full-time status.
The Cooperative Education Program is administered by the Career Services Center. During the Career Orientation course, students are assigned to a career coordinator. The coordinator acts as a liaison between the university and the working community, developing co-op opportunities and maintaining an effective rapport with all program participants.
Co-op employers include a wide range of businesses and industries, governmental, social service agencies, and school systems. Jobs are developed with employers who will provide a meaningful work experience, the standard rate of pay for the work being performed, and a careful evaluation of the student at the completion of the work semester.
Coordinators help students in the entire placement process, providing counseling and contacts. Students then apply directly to the employer and are hired on their own merits. Students must register for CSC 300 or CSC 400 (Co-op Field Experience) during each semester in which they have a work assignment.
The co-op schedule, showing the semesters the student will be in school and when the student will be at work, is prepared by the coordinator in consultation with the student and the appropriate academic adviser. The co-op student typically alternates periods of being at work and at school from the end of the freshman year to the beginning of the senior year. Two students are often paired with the same employer, thereby keeping a designated co-op position filled at all times. Variations in length and pattern of co-op schedules are considered on an individual basis with many factors being considered.
Students enrolled in the Cooperative Education Program are expected to comply with all of the policies, rules, and procedures governing the program, which are explained further in the Career Orientation course.