Pitt | Swanson Engineering
Parents' Page
Sending your son or daughter off to college can be an emotional experience

Sending your son or daughter off to college can be an emotional experience. Once they are settled in the dorms, have a good academic schedule, meal plan, books, and football tickets, you think that you've have made it!

Then, sometime during freshman or sophomore year, someone from the Swanson School’s Cooperative Education office recommends to your son or daughter that they should join the co-op program and add alternating work terms into the mix….it sounds daunting, but in reality, it is one of the easiest and most beneficial programs your student can participate in while an undergrad.

Positions in the co-op office are paid and are related to the student’s field of study. Students decide geographically what they can and cannot do; if company locations are outside of Pittsburgh or their hometown, most employers will help them with relocation expenses. Employers agree to alternate between work and school terms, provide relevant work experiences, and to work in good faith with our university.

Students are enrolled in a one credit co-op course and are still considered students with full-time status when on a co-op; that means they can remain on their parents’ health insurance policies. They can also live in the dorms if they have a housing contract. Students do not pay tuition while on a co-op work rotation, but are required to pay a modest co-op fee.

We will help your student with their resume and will work individually with your son or daughter to job develop, enhance interviewing skills, and successfully place them in a challenging assignment.

Each student in co-op has a faculty advisor who will assist them with scheduling and advising. The student will meet with that advisor prior to interviewing for positions. Most of our students begin the program during their sophomore or junior year. Participation in the program will not preclude them from participating in other campus activities or international programs. We have many students completing co-op who also hold leadership roles on campus and participate in research or study abroad.

Co-op should not hinder their academic performance either. During the 2015-16 school year, students who had a co-op had an average GPA of 3.345, while engineering students who did not co-op averaged a 3.262 GPA, according to our research. The statistics also show that students who co-op obtain jobs upon graduation, and earn about $4,000 more annually than their counterparts who did not co-op.  

How You Can Help:

Be proactive with your son or daughter. Our office job develops regularly, but if there is a certain company, industry, or location that is of a particular interest, encourage your child to visit us to discuss those opportunities. We have an open door policy each day from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and look forward to getting to know your student. Please feel free to contact our offices with any questions that you might have.