Kuyper College becomes first in Michigan to earn work college designation

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Kuyper College Courtesy Kuyper College

Kuyper College became the only school in Michigan and one of 10 nationally to be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a work college after it developed its KuyperWorks program.

The work college designation is awarded to a school that has intentionally integrated work, learning and service in its teaching.

“Anyone who has spent time at Kuyper College will recognize the words in our official seal that form our school’s motto — Ora et Labora — Pray and Work. From the very beginning, this idea has been infused into every part of life at the college,” said Dr. Patricia Harris, president of Kuyper College. “To further this vision, Kuyper College is entering an exciting new period in its history as it now becomes a work college.”

KuyperWorks program connects students’ on-the-job learning with their in-classroom education. The two-year program allows students to work on campus or at off-campus organizations for 10 hours each week during their first year in the program. They can attain more hours as they progress and as leadership roles are made available.

“When we were designing the program, we focused on fostering four core competencies: collaboration, critical thinking, effort and productivity, and professionalism,” said Curt Essenburg, Kuyper College’s dean of students and work. “To that end, each semester, students receive a formal evaluation from their supervisor, focusing on identifying opportunities to continue developing each of the core competencies. In addition to the competencies and skills students develop and the financial advantages they receive, KuyperWorks provides participants with a work transcript upon graduation. Having an official document from an organization certifying that the student is a good and skillful employee provides graduates with a significant advantage in the job search process.”

In addition to providing students opportunities for on-the-job learning, KuyperWorks allows students to receive tax-free compensation as a special form of financial aid toward students’ tuition.

“Depending on the hours worked, tuition could be reduced anywhere from $4,050 to $8,100 per year,” Essenburg said. “It also means students will be able to keep $500-$1,500 tax-free per year.

“As a work college, Kuyper offers our students an expanded educational experience because KuyperWorks and our academic programs are designed to complement each other, resulting in a more holistic experience than anywhere else. It will also benefit students financially, allowing them to concentrate on their studies while opening pathways for those who may think Kuyper is financially out of reach.”

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