When deciding on if co-op is right for you, consider its requirements, pros/cons, and your personal circumstances. Everyone’s experience is unique - you may discover balancing work and academics suits you perfectly, that focusing on just academic terms works well for you, have certain expectations of what co-op is like that are either confirmed or debunked, etc.

All co-op students must:

  • Maintain a full-time load (3, 4 or 5 courses) during each academic term
  • Stay in Honours standing for their major (e.g. SDS average > 70%, Arts average > 65%, overall average > 60%)
  • Complete 4 work-terms (5th is optional) and pay an additional co-op fee each term according to your sequence (normally starting 2A)
  • Complete 4 Professional Development (PD) courses offered through the Centre for Work-Integrated Learning (effective Fall 2022). These courses help you increase your employability and assist you with seeing connections between workplace experience and what you learn in the classroom.
    • PD 1 – Career Fundamentals: take during the academic term prior to your first work-term
    • PD 12 – Critical Reflection for Growth in the Workplace: take during your first work-term and counts as your first work report
    • Two elective PDs of your choice, one per work term

Advantages of Co-op

Challenges of Co-op

  • Use WaterlooWorks and gain access to dozens of placement opportunities
  • Gain valuable personal insight into strengths, weaknesses, preferences, passions and goals
  • Learn what workplace values, cultures, content and leadership styles you enjoy
  • Earn money to help fund your academic work terms (+ life in general!)
  • Learn how to network and potentially secure strong references for future work or education requirements
  • Get feedback from professionals to help improve your skills and competitiveness in the job market
  • Alternating academic and work terms might be a good fit for your goals
  • Potential for travel
  • Meet new friends and try out potential careers before committing
  • Build resilience by tackling competing deadlines and managing a higher workload
  • Graduate with a solid resume and the chance to secure post-grad employment early 
  • No guarantee of finding work or interest-relevant jobs, particularly for your first work term 
  • Added stress of applying and interviewing within an academic term (i.e. front-loaded process at the start of term, deadlines may conflict, etc.)
  • Increased tuition (e.g. full-time academic load, co-op fee, etc.)
  • Potential need to relocate or commute to work + associated costs
  • Adding an extra year to your degree
  • May limit ability to participate in other activities (e.g. exchange, volunteering, research thesis, etc.)
  • If an academic term falls in spring, there are fewer options available (many are online) 
  • Can normally only take 1 course on a work term
  • Difficult to manage extra academic plans (e.g. double-major, minors, etc.)
  • Limited to full-time, on-campus students

Probably a good fit!

Probably not a good fit!

  • I want to do an Honours degree
  • I do well in classes and can maintain a high average 
  • I am ok with staying longer to complete co-op requirements
  • I can afford a full-time course load 
  • I understand that being in co-op demands more of me during academic terms, such as taking courses while applying to jobs and interviewing
  • I am capable of balancing multiple priorities 
  • I enjoy change, like to try new things and “can go with the flow” easily
  • I am adventurous and willing to relocate for jobs
  • I recognize not all work terms will give me work relevant to my planned career, but believe any experience is good experience
  • I want to do a 3-year General degree or don’t really care about Honours*
  • I am an online-only student
  • I am a part-time student
  • I am a transfer student with a high number of transfer credits
  • I am focused on completing my degree as quickly as possible
  • I enjoy having summers off
  • I want to keep my options open for external work, volunteering, exchange or other experiential opportunities (like EDGE!)
  • I prefer consistency and predictability in my academic plan
  • I am unable to relocate for jobs
  • I am not able to pay for the additional costs of the co-op program

*Note: Many graduate schools require a minimum of an Honours degree for application. You can also pursue Honours without participating in co-op.

Co-op not your thing? That’s ok! There are many other opportunities available on and off-campus that can provide hands-on learning.

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