College Students Experience the Real World

Published on: June 26, 2008

What could be better than getting college credit for working your paid job?  Students who participate in Lone Star College-Kingwood's Co-op program get just that.

Co-op is short for cooperative education and it is reality learning at its best.  The Co-op program allows students to regularly alternate time spent in the classroom with time spent in the paid workforce.

"The Co-op program is really a partnership between the college, the community and the student," says Debbie Hughes, who teaches Co-op for the Business/Technical/Social Sciences Department and acts as the business liaison. 

The program offers students the opportunity to gain skills in a professional environment, polish their resumes and gain confidence.  They are also building a network of job connections that will be valuable when they graduate. 

Businesses benefit from the program as well.  Often companies have projects that get pushed to the back burner because there is no one on staff to complete special projects.  When businesses have a Co-op student it's the perfect opportunity to assign them one of these extra projects.  Students get the chance to take on a project, start to finish.

"Because the student is graded, both the student and the company have a vested interest in the project," says Hughes.

Graduates from LSC-Kingwood say that Co-op was an invaluable part of their education.  Reyna Tippets, a Co-op student, says the program helped her get her confidence back after spending ten years out of the workforce.  "Returning to school and work was very scary.  This program opened lines of communication between my supervisor and me."

Hughes says the Co-op students learn valuable time management skills as well.  "They have to learn to balance family, work and school and many of them carry a full college schedule.  It's a challenge, but one that has great life applications." 

Classroom teaching takes on an extra dimension when supported by practical application.  Students who use their learning to solve real-world problems find they not only gain a stronger understanding of material they have studied, but they are also better prepared to absorb new information when they return to classes. 

"Lone Star College-Kingwood and our students are very lucky to have the support of local businesses for our Co-op classes.  The experience that students receive from participating in a true work environment is important to their future success in their careers," said Linda Holcombe, Chair of the Business Department.  "When students combine classroom knowledge with hands-on experience in the workplace they become more valuable employees."

For more information on the Co-op program, visit Kingwood.LoneStar.edu and choose Co-op Work Experience from the My Quicklinks menu or contact Linda Holcomb at 281-312-1697.

Register today for summer term II (July 10-Aug. 14) and fall (Aug. 25-Dec. 14) credit classes online, by telephone and on-site. Classes are offered days, evenings, or weekends in traditional, Internet, video, TV and independent study formats. Current students can register by telephone at 281-519-6625. Former and current students can register at Kingwood.LoneStar.edu/registration.

For general information about Lone Star College-Kingwood, call 281-312-1600 or visit Kingwood.LoneStar.edu.

Lone Star College System consists of five colleges, including Cy-Fair, Kingwood, Montgomery, North Harris, and Tomball, six centers and the Lone Star College-University Center. With 49,250 students, it is the largest college system in the Houston area, and third largest community college district in Texas. To learn more, visit LoneStar.edu.