Co-op FAQ for Students
Co-op will function almost identically as it does now under a quarter system. Many people don’t know it, but UC’s celebrated co-op system (founded in 1906, the first co-op program in the world) has functioned under a variety of academic/workplace timing cycles in its history.
Under a semester system, students will gain professional experience for longer, continuous periods of time while also experiencing less disruption (for those co-op students who currently move to and from out-of-town co-op assignments every quarter in the current system).
See the Undergraduate Co-op Cycles page for cycles for different programs and colleges.
Summer 2012 will be the last quarter before the semester calendar begins on Aug. 27, 2012.
The co-op term that summer will count as a full co-op quarter. Note that the co-op calendar work dates do not coincide with the dates of the Summer 2012 academic term, and this is typical even under quarters.
Depending on academic program and class year, students will be scheduled for either a school term or work term in Summer 2012. Work terms scheduled for Summer 2012 quarter will either be an individual work term, or it may be combined in a back-to-back term with either the preceding spring quarter (and thus considered two terms of co-op) or the following fall semester (and thus considered two co-op terms).
- See more on co-op during Summer 2012.
No. Under the current quarter system, co-op students typically work six quarters, which equals about 18 months of work experience. Under semesters, students will typically work five semesters, which equals about 20 months. Students who begin co-op after semester conversion will experience an extra two months in the field due to semester conversion.
Yes. Starting in their sophomore year, co-op students will alternate between taking classes on campus and working in the field. The semester system will enable students to work each season at least once, as well as gain a fuller experience of campus life.
Currently, on the quarter system, a co-op student generally works a fall/spring rotation or a summer/winter rotation throughout his/her college years. Thus, co-op students who work fall and spring quarters miss out on football games, homecoming and spring formals. Students who work winter and summer quarters miss out on basketball games and (for those working out-of-town) the Cincinnati summer scene of festivals, concerts and shows.
After semester conversion, a student who works in the field for fall semester one year will be on campus taking classes (and going to football games!) the following fall semester. The same is true for the spring and summer semesters.
Employers generally prefer the semester system.
According to the University of Tennessee after its conversion in the 1980s, co-op under the semester system allowed employers greater return on investment in terms of employer training provided to students. In other words, co-op under the semester system permits employers to give students projects of greater longevity (which translates into potential for greater educational value).
A student survey following Northeastern’s conversion to semesters in 2004 found much the same result: Students there were able to make the adjustment to the longer on-the-job learning cycle. At the same time, the former head of Northeastern’s co-op program stated that “employers love it” when they have students for longer periods of time.
Also, most major employers recruit and hire according to the semester calendar (not the quarter calendar). So, co-op on the semester calendar better meets employers’ recruiting schedules and hiring needs.
Longer and more involved projects.
Students benefit in many ways from a semester-based co-op calendar. Since semesters are about four weeks longer than quarters, students in the field will receive longer projects and more responsibility by their employers over the course of a semester.
Fewer disruptions from term starts and stops.
The semester calendar means fewer starts and stops for students. Students will spend more time working. Also, for those students who work outside of the Greater Cincinnati area, or even overseas, fewer starts and stops means less disruption and fewer relocations.
Employers want semester students.
Other co-op institutions function on the semester system, including Northeastern University, the University of Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech University and the University of Tennessee. As such, most employers schedule hiring based on the semester calendar. And during the work terms, it’s easier for employers to coordinate students from multiple schools when they are all on similar semester calendars.