Beginning this fall, Lakeland University is offering undergraduates a new way to earn a bachelor’s degree that will help them save significant money while earning much-needed pre-graduation work experience.
Lakeland has launched what is called a cooperative education model. Lakeland has become the first arts and sciences institution in the Upper Midwest to offer this approach to earning a degree.
Lakeland will initially partner with local companies – Kohler Co., Sargento Foods, Johnsonville Sausage, Bemis Manufacturing, Vollrath, The Osthoff, Blue Harbor, Masters Gallery Foods, and Schenk SC.
Unlike internships, which are often short-term, temporary assignments, the co-op program will have students working in full-time positions.
Lakeland estimates students in the program can earn up to $100,000 in wages and scholarships over their four years, significantly minimizing their student debt after graduation.
For local employers, the move creates a new talent pool and greater connections with students at a time when many employers are
struggling to fill positions. It also provides the opportunity for companies to “test drive” potential employees.
Lakeland President Dr. David Black said the rising cost of higher education and the decline in the traditional college-age demographic are challenging the business model of a traditional residential campus, especially for private institutions. “Other institutions are seeing fewer
students entering as freshmen and transfers,” Dr. Black said. “Additionally, more who have enrolled are dropping out, and the overwhelming reason for the decline is financial.” Black explained cooperative education is an innovative solution that combines classroom-based studies and practical work experience.
“By the time students graduate, they will have earned enough money working to significantly minimize or eliminate student debt,” Dr. Black said. “They will also have worked in a variety of roles within a company which positions them for a higher-level job upon graduation.”