‘U.S. News’ ranks UC co-op among nation’s Top 5
In newest national rankings, UC’s co-op program outpaces those at Duke, Stanford, Cornell and more
Just as the University of Cincinnati opens its school year by marking the 8th straight year of record enrollment (to nearly 47,000 students), it also advances its century-long reputation and legacy among the nation’s elite co-op and internship programs.
The latest 2021 issue of the magazine’s influential Best Colleges guide ranks the University of Cincinnati among the top tier of national universities (143), but perhaps more importantly, the university outpaces almost all national rivals on performance indicators important to students and their families – specifically UC’s national Top 5 ranking for co-ops and internships.
As the global founder of cooperative education, UC houses the world’s third-largest co-op program where each year, students earn a collective $75 million annually working for about 1,600 employers. The program allows UC students to sequentially alternate academic semesters with professional, paid work directly tied to their majors with local, national and international employers, from multinational firms to non-profits and start-ups too.
In this year’s rankings, UC’s experience-based co-op and internship program beat out similar programs at both private and public institutions like Duke, Stanford, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, Purdue, Georgetown and many others.
That leadership will continue: While co-op’s role in making today’s college experience more engaging and affordable is vital, the university’s Next Live Here strategic plan is also focusing on developing tomorrow’s co-ops, internships and related opportunities. These will provide forward-looking, competitive experiences to the next generation of students in the digital knowledge economy and expand work-integrated experiences to greater numbers of students.
That effort is already underway and has already positioned UC’s co-op, internship and other experience-based options for ongoing economic and employment conditions. Gisela Escoe, dean, Experience-based Learning and Career Education (ELCE), explained that the university was able to reset quickly to serve the needs of mandatory co-op students in the current remote-work environment because the offered options – whether cooperative education terms, internships or the opportunities within the Experiential Exploration Program – were and are already aligned with the Remote Work Center founded as part of the Division of Experience-Based Learning and Career Education more than a year ago.
“Even before the pandemic, we recognized and anticipated that work needs would increasingly rely on virtual or hybrid semi-virtual environments,” Escoe says. “That foresight is allowing us to quickly expand capacity on a foundation that already existed. And we expect that progression will continue even after current events pass.”
Continuing focus on students leads to rising enrollment, retention and diversity
Even as the university confirms continuing record enrollment, it’s important to highlight important trends within that history-making number. Importantly, retention is high (at 88%) while campus is also more diverse than ever. Nearly one in four first-year students this year are minorities, and the total number of minority students who call themselves Bearcats rose to just over 23%.
“We were able to stand by the university’s commitment to diversity in making sure that higher education is an affordable opportunity for all students, and we are continuing our commitment to have a diverse student body,” says Jack Miner, vice provost for enrollment management.
That diversity complements UC’s co-op and internship program, as recruiting employers see a diverse workforce as a cultural and competitive necessity. And overall, UC’s focus on its Bearcat Promise (that all students will graduate with a diploma in one hand and a career plan in the other) provides students a guided path to and a competitive advantage at graduation.
Featured image at top: University of Cincinnati co-op student works at 84.51, a data analytics and marketing company that provides customer insights and strategy for The Kroger Company and over 300 consumer-packaged-goods companies. Photo/ Lisa Ventre/UC Creative + Brand