Downloadable White Papers:

What is the purpose of becoming a Work College? What do colleges accomplish by becoming a Work College? These two questions must be answered after thoughtful careful inquiry. The seven Work Colleges are Work Colleges because it was core to their missions and fundamental to their beliefs and operations. Institutions looking for single metrics like reduced operating costs are not good Work College candidates. 

According to the federal guidelines for Work Colleges, their purpose is: “to recognize, encourage, and promote the use of comprehensive work-learning-service programs as a valuable educational approach when it is an integral part of the institution’s educational program and a part of a financial plan which decreases reliance on grants and loans.” Here are the federal guidelines for Work Colleges or download here.  

Will work detract from our students’ academic performance?  To the contrary, many Work College students out perform their peers. They have better time management skills, are more open to constructive feedback and realize first-hand the value of their work and service efforts to the community. Here's an overview of how WCC graduates measure up to their peers.  

What impact will this have on our budget? Because work is mandatory and all work is compensated, Member Colleges provide considerable resources to operate a Work College.    

Who manages the work force?  Each College has a structure for work that parallels the academic structure including a Dean of Work (as required by federal regulations) who oversees the entire work program. Students also have assigned work positions with supervisors, who oversee their day-to-day tasks and help mentor and evaluate performance. Supervisors include faculty, staff and other students who receive specific management training.

Blackburn College’s work program is completely student-managed. Students are fully vested in every aspect of Blackburn College from classroom learning to supervising peers to campus policymaking. 

How is a work assignment made?  Work assignments are based on the needs of each campus and mission of each Member College. First year students (incoming freshman) are typically assigned work positions. However, there is more flexibility as students gain skills and expertise. Students can apply for positions, and work their way through the ranks to supervisors. Some students even hold positions considered “essential personnel”. 

What types of new academic programs can be implemented to complement the Work College model?  Academic programs and degrees vary from campus to campus at Work Colleges. This overview will connect you to each Member College’s page where you’ll find examples of campus work posts. Offering of academic programs depends on the culture of each individual institution. Work assignments reflect needed campus operations and student learning opportunities that often dovetail with fields of study For example, a college that has a Construction Management program might employ students in Facilities Management, Construction or Maintenance.  Hotel/Restaurant Management and Sustainable Agriculture jobs are popular at Work Colleges and good examples of work posts that also serve the broader community. 

How will this affect faculty and support staff?  Work College faculty and staff take on new roles, often supervising or mentoring student workers. Effective preparation with faculty and staff is key to harmonizing student integration into the college workforce. 

How many hours are students required to work?  Are there federal requirements? Work College students are required to work a minimum of five hours a week, or 80 hours per semester, based on federal requirements. Work assignments average between 8-15 hours a week.

All resident students are required to work. Job responsibilities are integrated into each student’s schedule. With the help of a supervisor, students learn to effectively manage responsibilities for studies and their work. Additional federal guidelines for Work Colleges are available here.  

Will this interfere with students’ ability to hold down another job? Supervised limits are set to allow time for class and course-related studies. There are students who do both, especially in the case of internships or upperclass students. Work Colleges focus on helping students graduate with limited college debt; the arrangement doesn’t forbid off-campus work, but does reduce the need.

Work assignments can support and complement a student’s field of study.  Work positions also introduce students to new opportunities including student-powered industries involving crafts, hospitality, even sustainable agriculture. Students learn there is value in all types of work.

Each Member College’s Dean of Work/Labor oversees job assignments, working closely with campus administration and operations. Staff, faculty and student managers directly supervise students on a day-today basis. On most campuses, students (especially upperclassmen) have the opportunity to request work posts that best suit their interests and study focus. Work assignments typically change every year. 

How are students compensated for their work? Work Colleges share the goal of helping students reduce college debt upon graduation, but the arrangement of pay is different on each campus. Wages are considered “self help payments.” For example, at Warren Wilson College all students are paid the same wage—supporting the philosophy that all work is equal. Some Work Colleges have graduated pay scales; others provide a set “credit” or grant for work performed. Wages may vary, but every Member College complies with appropriate state and federal employment laws.