Giving Compass' Take:

• The number of working teen students has dropped drastically since 1991. Writing for InsideSources, John Fry, president of Drexel University, provides a new approach to prepare students for their future: a cooperative education model that blends paid work experience and learning.

• Not to be confused with internships or apprenticeships, co-ops present an interesting opportunity for college students who feel like they aren't prepared for the workforce. Should higher ed initiatives support more of them? 

• Learn more about "opportunity youth" and society

For millions of American teens, a rite of passage used to be a summer job flipping burgers, caddying or working at the mall. My first job was delivering newspapers and taking tickets at a movie theater. But fewer teens and college students work today, leaving them unprepared for jobs upon graduation.

Today’s colleges and universities need to do a much better job of incorporating professional work experience into their academic programs to prepare meaningfully graduates for their own careers, while also meeting the nation’s constantly evolving workforce needs.

At Drexel University, we believe our cooperative education model is perfectly suited for the times because it blends real-world work experience with state-of-the-art classroom instruction. Other universities clinging to old forms of traditional pedagogy would be wise to adapt with the times.

Co-op differs significantly from internships. Our students attend classes full time their freshman year. Then, depending on their major, they alternate six-month periods of full-time study with full-time employment at university-approved employers.

Read the full article about work experience and co-ops for students by John Fry at InsideSources.