Many students spend years after college working off tens of thousands of dollars in school debt. But at seven “work colleges” around the country, students are required to work on campus as part of their studies ― doing everything from landscaping, growing and cooking food to public relations and feeding farm animals ― to pay off at least some of their tuition before they graduate.
The arrangement not only makes college more affordable for students who otherwise might not be able to go, it also gives them real-life experience, teaches them responsibility and how to work together, officials said.
“I love it,” said Melissa Eckstrom, of Philadelphia, who is an assistant garden manager at Sterling College in Craftsbury, Vt., where she’s studying sustainable agriculture. “It’s really satisfying to work in the garden and do all this hands-on, you know, dirty work ― and I go to the kitchen and sit down for a meal and I’m like, I grew this. It can’t get more full circle than that.”
With rising college costs and a national student loan debt reaching more than $1 trillion, “earning while learning” is becoming more appealing for some students. The work college program is different than the federal work study program, which is an optional voluntary program that offers funds for part-time jobs for needy students. <Read more.>