I took Amtrak into 30th Street Station Philadelphia last month to visit three Philly universities. Drexel, which is just a few short blocks from the train station, was my first stop. Like many city universities, Drexel’s campus is not clearly defined by gates or ivy covered walls but rather it is incorporated within the city itself. Drexel’s academic buildings are identified with flags and there is no central quad or grassy space. However, there are many university spaces where students congregate and socialize.

Although Drexel is best known for its outstanding comprehensive co-op program, during the information session admissions reminded students and parents that Drexel is first and foremost a comprehensive research university with an emphasis on experiential learning. Co-ops allow students to “test drive” their careers during college, by building skills and providing professional experiences. Although Drexel’s co-op programing was established nearly 100 years ago, there are still many misconceptions about the program and its perceived restrictions. Admissions did a terrific job of dispelling some of these myths during the information session.

Debunking the co-op program at Drexel

  • Fact or myth? Co-ops are only for engineering and business students. Myth! Drexel has 13 undergraduate colleges and schools with co-ops incorporated into their curriculum. (Look for my future post about media and the arts at Drexel.)
  • Fact or myth? Students who participate in co-op programs cannot study abroad. Myth! Students who participate in co-op programs can study abroad for a semester or a few weeks with a faculty led program.
  • Fact or myth? Students cannot apply undecided at Drexel. Myth! Students can apply undecided within a specific college or school.
  • Fact or myth? All students participate in co-ops at Drexel. Myth! Although it is unusual, students can choose not to take part in the co-op program. They do not attend class during the summer quarter and usually graduate within four years.
  • Fact or myth? Students are career focused at Drexel. Fact! Most students who choose Drexel have a strong sense of their career interests but are willing to explore many other disciplines as well.

Students can choose a four-year program with one co-op experience or a five-year program with three co-op experiences. There are a few programs that are five-years only. Drexel is on the quarter system. Students attend classes and work year round with vacation breaks between quarters. During co-op semesters students do not pay tuition, and if they work 40 hours a week at the co-op they are paid on average $16,000. Students are assigned a co-op advisor and given access to a database with 1,700 co-op employers nationally and internationally.

Housing

Housing is guaranteed the first two years. Freshmen live together in a residential quad. Some upperclassmen choose to reside in living and learning communities and Greek Row, but most live in apartments on and off campus. 

Campus Life

There is plenty to do outside the classroom with the city Philadelphia right outside of your dorm. If you are a foodie, you’re in luck! Restaurants, food trucks, and cafes are plentiful in the area. Food trucks line the streets beginning midmorning. Our tour guide told us that food trucks are part of the Drexel campus culture. Drexel athletes compete in Division I sports. Approximately 13-percent of all students participate in Greek life. Not surprising, Drexel students are active in academic/career-focused clubs. Philly is a college town. The University of Pennsylvania, the University of the Sciences and Center City are just steps away from campus. There is a SEPTA station right on campus, which makes its easy to explore other Philly neighborhoods and attend professional sporting events.

Outcomes

96-percent of students have a job in their field or attend graduate school within six months of graduation. Students often receive job offers from one of their co-op experiences and on average initially earn 8.8-percent more money than those who do not have a co-op experience.

Admissions

Drexel is test flexible. Students can submit the SAT/ACT, AP test or SAT Subject tests. Submitting a portfolio is strongly encouraged for those applying to art/media based programs. All students are reviewed for merit aid.

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Drexel: Debunking the Co-op Program
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