Why post-secondary co-op programs are flawed
Co-op is a great way to get your foot in the door, gain work experience in the field that you’re interested in, build your network with industry contacts, and make some money when you’re in college and university. Though just being accepted into co-op itself is highly competitive. Is the program as great as it seems? Or could there be room for improvement?
A big part of entering co-op depends on a student’s GPA. You can have a C student who always tries their best, spends a lot of time to do well, and has a great work ethic vs. a more gifted B+ student who doesn’t need to put in that much effort, slacks off, and/or free-rides, and still receives decent grades. Or, you can have a C student who works a minimum wage dead end job full-time to pay for school and other living expenses vs. a B+ student who doesn’t need to pay for school and living expenses themselves, and therefore probably has less stress, less concerns, more energy, more time, and more opportunities. Plus, to be eligible for co-op, you have to be a full-time student. So that means students who go to school part-time while working dead end jobs to make ends meet, along with volunteering and being involved with extracurriculars, and want to advance their careers before they graduate will miss out.
The minimal acceptance criteria is based on performance results from exams, group projects, and assignments. Even though some who aren’t the best academically do great and excel in the right work environment, and on the other hand, there are those who get wonderful grades in school but can’t show their skills and abilities in the workplace, and end up doing poorly. Just because someone’s good at the theoretical component doesn’t mean they’re a better and more qualified candidate when it comes to the practical aspect compared to those who don’t do as well in school as them.
Furthermore, when you do get hired for a co-op position, you’ll have to pay your school $500–800. Because you know, post-secondaries (especially universities) are for-profit institutions. There are many employment services in the community, such as the YWCA, Success, GT Hiring Solutions etc., that will help anyone find a job for free and some will even pay you for 9 weeks as you attend their workshops and training sessions.
Post-secondary co-op can be useful and a great way to complement your education if you’re able to get accepted and obtain a decent position, but it does have its flaws.