This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

May 15, 2002

College/Work, Work/College

Remember back in the late 1990s when employers were challenged by a tight labor market? Recruiters were pursuing qualified applicants wherever they could find them-even on college campuses. (See Trend Alert from April 25, 2000.) As the economy heats up and the labor market tightens, recruiters again will attempt to lure students from the college campus to the corporate campus.

What strategic planning messages does this send to colleges and universities? Your students (read: revenue) may be earning money working instead of spending (or investing) money learning. Without enough students, the very existence of colleges and universities could be at risk.

Our forecast is a new partnership between educators and employers. College students will work at real jobs, not just make-work internships. They will earn pay at a level commensurate with their abilities as entry level employees with various kinds of employers. Working hours will be similar to those followed by co-workers.

These young people will also attend college classes, carrying a load comparable to what is measured today as a full-time complement. They will attend classes, do their homework and outside research, participate in study teams, and other activities associated with focused, aggressive learning in higher education today.

To make this happen, educators and employers will work closely together to schedule work and classes in ways that won't create schedule conflicts for the talented people they both need. Students who are able to take advantage of this opportunity will be thrilled. They can learn and earn-accumulating the funds they need to pay for their education. For a few years, they will be quite willing to manage their time differently to gain the tremendous benefits. Students will graduate with a degree and several solid years of meaningful work experience.

The problem will be getting the educators and employers to communicate, cooperate, and collaborate. Today they hardly talk to each other. The foundations are in place, with some graduate schools of management or schools like Hiram College and Marymount College offering a week-end program for working people. Innovative employers will bring more college degree programs to the corporate setting.

Comments from our readers:

This proposed trend sounds like a recipe for serious burnout to me. Why would or should anyone volunteer to go to school full-time and work full-time at the same time. People I've known who did this couldn't keep their grades up -- something, somewhere has to give. Unless we intend to somehow create a super-human class of college students in the future, "College/Work, Work/College" is a frightening prospect that could create more drop-outs than buy-ins.

Just thinking....thanks for encouraging me to do so!

Cathy R. Dudley
Vinson & Elkins
Austin, Texas

I attended the University of Cincinnati co-op program in Industrial Management. In the co-op program a student goes to school for three months and then works at a full-time job for three months and then reverse. Two students cover one full time job. It is an excellent program and is a fine way to get an education.

The co-op program was first practiced at Antioch College in Ohio.

David B. Norris CMC, FIMC
Norris Consultants, Inc.
Ferndale, Washington

You're describing the old "co-op" programs that were very popular with colleges and employers until the Dept. of Ed. funding dried up. Some schools still offer it, but you don't hear much about it anymore. NC State, just down the road from you, had the largest co-op program in the state in the 1980's.

Linda Malami
Community College System

By the way I attended a great Catholic women's college almost a decade ago that allowed me to get my bachelor's degree while working fulltime. It was the greatest thing ever!! Especially being a single Mom as well.

Barbara Swarthout
International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

You are right . . . however, there are lots of new graduates! Just in two weeks the four area colleges in 20 mile radius (approx. 1200 SUNY College at Oneonta) will put close to 3,000 new graduates in the job/graduate school market! We are fortunate that our applications at the College at Oneonta are significantly higher for next fall admission, meaning higher selectivity. The University world is alive and well. Internships for students while in college are increasingly important for future potential employment. Thanks for your updates.

Frances Gailey
College at Oneonta
Oneonta, New York

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