Laurier arts co-op needs to be reformed

It is the time of year that students begin to apply for co-op placements in the arts program and with it are the questions that arise – namely: what is the point?

Without a doubt many Laurier arts students apply for co-op. It only adds to the value of a degree in the eyes of future employers, especially in a marketplace with a saturation of bachelor of arts (BA) degrees. However, one cannot help but question whether it adds to a student’s work experience beyond what he or she can achieve on their own. This is especially true given the extremely steep $282.65 per term charge incurred, which will amount to over $1,000 during the course of the co-op program’s cycle for an arts student.

For one, the program consists of two summer work terms. This is in contrast to the University of Waterloo arts co-op program, which alternates school and co-op terms. This opens up a well of potential employers who may not be so inclined to hire in the summer months and also gives students an opportunity to obtain more work experience than simply the summer jobs they would have possibly gotten anyway.

The co-op program also takes a scattershot approach to applications, instructing students to apply to a multitude of placements, many of whom may have little bearing on their future career aspirations or their academic field. It’s a stretch to see how working as a camp counselor will set one up for a successful career in politics for example. In reality the majority of the placements are not much different from the jobs many of us had in high school.

Instead, an effort should be made to provide quality placements for co-op students and targeted applications to jobs that will assist students in their career aspirations and develop their transferable skills. Co-op has the potential to be a huge boost to the marketability of our arts graduates. More needs to be done to develop our program to ensure that Laurier maintains its positive reputation in liberal arts.

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