How work-study programs can teach students career skills

The familiar but inconspicuous work-study programs on campuses could be fine-tuned to improve retention, helping students who need income while providing them with sought-after career-readiness skills and training opportunities, according to a new report.The review of such programs by NASPA–Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education recommends the programs become a higher priority for campus leaders and have clear standards. It also suggest they be better promoted, supervised and evaluated with strong data.The report highlights how work-study programs can address a "working student dilemma" of growing concern by tying opportunities to earn income with the chance to develop marketable skills. The report touches on ways the work-study program can help tackle two nagging issues in higher education: career readiness and retention. Students who see value in these jobs and make connections through them to the campus, peers and professionals may have a better experience in college and be more likely to stay enrolled, it notes. It also suggests career-readiness be a goal, something work-study programs can help with by emulating the real-life hiring process — such as requiring a resume and an interview, offering an orientation to the position and conducting an exit interview. Those steps can also help the institution gather data on the student work experience.

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