Is a Work College Right for You? Complete List of Schools
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- What is a Work College?
- Pros and Cons of Attending a Work College
- All Eight Work Colleges
- What Are Your Chances of Acceptance?
Are you a high school junior or senior considering attending college once you graduate? The question many students in the same position ask themselves is: do I attend a four-year traditional college? Or do I do something different, and if so, what other opportunities are out there? What’s going to help me accomplish my future goals?
In this article, we will cover work colleges, a four-year secondary schooling opportunity that may be the perfect fit for you!
What is a Work College?
Work colleges allow students to earn a degree at a four-year, liberal arts institution; however, the difference from a traditional four-year college is that students have the ability to integrate work, learning, and service. Students who attend a work college must fulfill the requirement of completing a work-learning service program during their entire college career in order to practice responsibility, earn valuable work experience, and reduce the cost of education. Ultimately, students who attend a work college must have a job, whether it be on campus or off such as a community service position.
There are eight colleges that are a part of the work college consortium, which we will cover later in this article. Each college offers different majors and varies in campus size, population, and location.
Pros and Cons of Attending a Work College
To help you better determine whether a work college is suited for you, we have outlined a set of pros and cons about work colleges that may help you make a better decision:
Pro: Reduced Cost of Education
You are required to work roughly 8-15 hours a week in exchange for reduced tuition. Later in this article, we will discuss the different schools in the Work College Consortium and some jobs that students may choose to hold. Students are able to earn a pre-allocated stipend per semester to help pay off their tuition—this means that students can graduate debt-free, and may even be able to attend college for free! If financial constraints are a consideration for you, make sure to research work colleges or other ways to attend college for free!
Pro: Opportunity to Learn a Multitude of Soft Skills
Students who spend time working in college are forced to develop additional skills. These include time management, communication, and responsibility. Over time, students will become better skilled at managing time in order to balance work, sleep, academics, and their social lives. Developing these skills allow you to be well prepared for the real world in which you may find yourself working a full-time job while taking care of a family.
Pro: Ability to Gain Research Experience
A lot of the work colleges allow students to participate in research and are given federal grants to fund their research. This means that many of the positions and jobs offered at the school are research-based, including working as a research assistant. Being in research can open doors to many career paths, especially if you are able to get a publication during your time at college!
Pro: Networking and Less Future Competition
Attending a work college allows you to deepen your resume since you will be gaining work experience while attending a four-year institution. Having work experience while in college makes you a great candidate for jobs in the real world since you have developed the necessary soft skills. Furthermore, you have the potential to be exposed to alumni who can connect you with representatives in a field you are interested in working in after you graduate.
Con: Limited Academic Opportunities
The work colleges offer less than 40 majors at each school, which can be very limiting. While most colleges offer basic majors such as physics, history, and English, it may be difficult to find a work college that offers a degree in engineering or something more specialized like dance or film and theatre. Make sure to apply to a work college that offers a major you are interested in. After all, you should go to college to earn a degree you are passionate about!
Con: There are only 24 Hours in a Day
Since you may be working up to fifteen hours a week, you will find yourself dedicating quite a bit of time each day to your work; whether it be the commute there, the actual job, or getting ready for the job. Regardless, the responsibility of working may mean having to cut some time from other activities such as social hangouts, extracurriculars, or even studying for an exam the night before. This may also lead to additional stress since students may face a learning curve when figuring out how to balance school and work. Nevertheless, some students may find this experience rewarding, just make sure to do your best to find time for all your priorities and to take care of yourself!
Con: A Separate College Application Aside from the CommonApp
Most traditional colleges you apply to will be through the CommonApp, which makes it extremely easy to apply to multiple colleges since there are fewer essays and applications to write. On the other hand, to apply to a work college you need to complete a college-specific application that cannot be completed through the CommonApp. However, if you are looking to apply to multiple work colleges, you might be able to reuse content. Make sure to make each application unique though! You can find more information on applications at each work colleges’ official website.
Con: You May Not Get the Job You Want
With hundreds to thousands of students attending each of the accredited work colleges, you may not be able to work in the division you want right away. You may find yourself working in management at the admission office or being a member of the janitorial team. But remember, this isn’t the end of the world! Regardless of the job you get, you will be able to develop soft skills that prepare you for the real world.
All Eight Work Colleges
Here we list all eight work colleges that you can apply to if you are interested in attending.
Alice Lloyd College
Location: Pippa Passes, Kentucky
Acceptance Rate: 28%
Undergrad Enrollment: 600
Alice Lloyd College charges no out-of-pocket tuition for students in nearby states, including Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. At this college, all full-time students are required to work at least ten hours a week to help pay for their education. These opportunities allow students to provide services for the College community in one of 14 departments, including resident advisors, the admissions team, the campus post office, and student publications.
There are roughly 17 students per faculty member, which provides students the ability to grow close to their professors. Alice Lloyd offers roughly 18 majors, including criminal justice and kinesiology, as well as 12 minors, including business administration and leadership studies. Learn more about Alice Lloyd College and what it takes to get accepted.
Location: Berea, Kentucky
Acceptance Rate: 38%
Undergrad Enrollment: 1,600
Berea is known for being the first interracial and coeducational college in the South. Students who attend this college are expected to work a minimum of ten hours a week in one of the 120 different departments. Students can do anything from herding cattle on the Berea College Farm to conducting research in a chemistry lab.
There are a total of 32 academic departments at Berea including Philosophy, Technology, and Applied Design, Women’s and Gender Studies as well as Computer Science; in total, 34 majors and 38 minors are offered. Berea also offers numerous centers that allow students to focus on certain services and communities such as the Center for Excelling in Learning through Service, the Black Cultural Center and the Campus Christian Center. Learn more about Berea College and what it takes to get accepted.
Bethany Global University
Location: Bloomington, Minnesota
Acceptance Rate: 92%
Undergrad Enrollment: 300
Bethany Global University is a Christian-centric university that trains undergraduate students to embrace the Church whilst getting their degrees. Students get hands-on work experience by training at local outreach centers while on campus and then spend sixteen months overseas on a missionary trip during their global internship. While on campus, students work on campus about 15 hours a week and participate in weekly community service and outreach programs. Most students spend less than 10,000 dollars out of pocket to pay for their education at Bethany Global University. Learn more about Bethany Global University and what it takes to get accepted.
Location: Carlinville, Illinois
Acceptance Rate: 52%
Undergrad Enrollment: 550
At Blackburn College, students manage the work program, making it the nation’s only student-managed work program. Students work a minimum of 160 hours per semester, averaging about 10 hours per week. From managing the bookstore to ensuring campus safety and security, Blackburn College offers a variety of potential positions for its students.
Students are also able to participate in pre-professional programs including Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Science, Law, Theology, and Nursing. If you are interested in obtaining a nursing degree, you can also participate in the dual degree program with St. John’s College of Nursing. Learn more about Blackburn College and what it takes to get accepted.
College of the Ozarks
Location: Point Lookout, Missouri
Acceptance Rate: 12%
Undergrad Enrollment: 1,500
College of the Ozarks is a private, Christian college that is spread out across a 1,000-acre plot of land. The work college provides more than 80 student job options from working at the computer center or milking dairy cows to working at the school’s hotel or restaurant. Students work an average of 15 hours a week to help pay for their education.
The school focuses on developing students with the intent of accomplishing five goals: the academic goal, the Christian goal, the cultural goal, the patriotic goal, and the vocational goal. College of the Ozarks has a small student-to-teacher ratio, ensuring students are given a specialized education. Students who attend the college can also participate in one of the 13 intercollegiate sports offered including basketball and baseball. Learn more about College of the Ozarks and what it takes to get accepted.
Paul Quinn College
Location: Dallas, Texas
Acceptance Rate: 90%
Undergrad Enrollment: 500
Paul Quinn College is another faith-based work college that was started by a group of African Methodist Episcopal Church preachers. While the school was first developed to educate freed slaves and their children, it now serves students of all races and socio-economic backgrounds, putting forth the mission “we over me.” Graduates from Paul Quinn College leave with less than $10,000 in student loan debt by working on campus during their undergraduate career. Students work roughly 300 to 400 hours per academic year, which is roughly 10-20 hours a week. Students can assist in the Registrar’s office while others may participate in the Corporate Work Program. The Corporate Work Program is a specialized program in which students may be able to participate in one of 33 off-campus internships. The school offers 15-degree programs that range in 7 different departments. Learn more about Paul Quinn College and what it takes to get accepted.
Location: Craftsbury Common, Vermont
Acceptance Rate: 93%
Undergrad Enrollment: 200
Students at Sterling College work on average 80 hours during a semester. Just like other work colleges, students earn positions in a range of jobs including working in the kitchen, on the farm, or on the Trail Crew.
An interesting fun fact about Sterling College is that 80% of its campus electricity is produced through solar power. Accordingly, the school has received the STARS (Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System) Gold Rating for four consecutive years. Sterling College also focuses on sustainability through the various academic majors the school offers including Agroecology, Conservation Education, Ecology, Environmental Humanities, Environmental Justice, Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems, and International Agriculture and Business. Learn more about Sterling College and what it takes to get accepted.
Warren Wilson College
Location: Swannanoa, North Carolina
Acceptance Rate: 86%
Undergrad Enrollment: 600
At Warren Wilson College, students will work at least eight hours a week in their first year, primarily working in one of the 85 work crews. Over time, you can work more hours a week and even earn leadership roles. Students can work on campus in network maintenance or plumbing (to name a few of the jobs offered). They also have the ability to volunteer with one of the school’s 200 community partners.
Warren Wilson College is also known for its emphasis on both academics and the environment. 34% of the food served on campus is grown, well, on campus! The school allows students to earn a degree in one of 20 majors, 17 concentrations, 28 minors, and 4 advising areas. Learn more about Warren Wilson College and what it takes to get accepted.
What Are Your Chances of Acceptance?
Your chance at any one of the work colleges varies, however, to get a better understanding, we recommend using our free admissions calculator. After you input your grades, test scores, and extracurriculars, you’ll get an estimate of your odds of acceptance. CollegeVine even provides you with tips on improving your applicant profile.
Getting into college requires a strong strategy, and our free admissions platform can help you every step of the way, from your school search to essays to live advice from admissions experts.