Cooperative Education is about much more than work experience. A co-op work term is a course that goes on your transcripts (making you a full-time student) and links your classroom instruction with paid, full-time work experience in your field of study, all while filling the short-term (usually four or eight months) recruiting needs of employers.
The work term often serves as a “test drive” for both employers and students to assess suitability for future employment. There is also solid evidence that students who complete degrees with the cooperative education designation often receive higher starting salaries and find grad jobs sooner than their non-co-op counterparts.
Co-op alternates/sandwiches semesters of regular academic courses with semesters of paid, full-time work experience called work terms. Each work term is a course (making you a full-time student) that is recorded on your transcript. In addition to active engagement on the job, critical reflection assignments are submitted to the instiution in cooperation with your employer during the course of the work term for a grade.
The successful recruitment of co-operative education students is a collective effort of three parties – the interested employer, the co-op student, and the associated educational institution. Co-op positions, whether posted on the co-op job board or on an employer's website, can only be completed by students registered in a Co-op Program.