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A work college is a type of institution of higher learning where student work is an integral and mandatory part of the educational process, as opposed to being an appended requirement. It differs from the concept of cooperative education, where in most cases, co-op programs offered at colleges and universities are only offered to certain students, usually those in specific academic programs or those shown to need financial aid. At a work college, all students work, regardless of their academic program or their financial need.
Students typically work 10 to 15 hours per week, with jobs varying from teaching assistantships to nurturing animals on the campus grounds. The work programs at these work colleges are seen as being beneficial both to the student and the institution; the student is able to obtain work experience while in school, reduce their debt load, and meet college expenses, while the institution is able to hire fewer full-time staff.
The following seven schools make up the Work Colleges Consortium:
- Alice Lloyd College in Pippa Passes, Kentucky
- Berea College in Berea, Kentucky
- Blackburn College in Carlinville, Illinois
- College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri
- Ecclesia College in Springdale, Arkansas
- Sterling College in Craftsbury Common, Vermont
- Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina
- The United States federal government definition of Work College, Title 34 § 675.41, from GPO Electronic Code of Federal Regulations