Last updated on March 9, 2019
By Gloria Cortes
Volunteer State Community College’s Work Based Learning (WBL) academic program gives eligible students the opportunity to earn work experience and college credit simultaneously through a course.
“Work Based Learning is an academic program that allows the student to gain work experience directly related to his/her academic major and/or vocational choice. Students work off campus and have the opportunity to apply classroom learning to practical work situations and learn work-related skills,” according to https://www.volstate.edu/work-based-learning.
Students must have a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA, 2.5 program GPA and 70 percent of their degree completed in order to be eligible for the program, but there can be an appeal if they are close to meeting the requirements depending on their situation.
Administrator of Work Based Learning Dr. Rick Parrent, former 13-year director of the Career Placement, Cooperative Education and Service Learning Office, said this program was initialized in the fall semester of 2017, and has exponentially grown to offer courses in all five divisions.
“You have [Vol State] and you have the partners, and there is an established memorandum of understanding, which is an agreement that essentially says, ‘We, the college, working in concert on a collaborative basis with you, the organization, agree to certain things. For example, we agree to providing you with a quality person who is willing to grow and develop, and you agree to providing a safe, quality experience whereby the student can develop an understanding of what that career and that focus is all about,’” said Parrent.
Eligible students interested in other places of service for WBL with organizations that do not have agreements with Vol State must contact Parrent and help create a memorandum of understanding between the school and the partner.
Depending on the organization and its agreement with Vol State, students can work paid internships during their courses, in addition to receiving training and preparation, like soft and technical skills, for entering the workforce.
With WBL courses, students must complete a minimum of 45 contact hours for each college credit hour of the course.
Partners can also offer students jobs after the course is completed.
Vol State has agreements with 37 partners, and about 30-40 WBL students per semester, excluding health sciences curricular courses, said Parrent.
“I really feel like this program would prepare students, especially those who haven’t had jobs before, for the real world, working with real people…. I feel like Vol State offering this program to give students an understanding of what they want to do will help them figure out their future and if they want to further their education,” said sophomore Dianna Thomas.
“Work Based Learning is fun! Work Based Learning is an opportunity to get outside of yourself- it’s an opportunity sometimes to go beyond who you are, and stretch your wings, and to create some comfort in knowing that I’m now doing things that I never really dreamed about doing,” said Parrent.