Paul Quinn Work Program Increases Job Skills, Lowers Student Debt

Independence. Most college students can’t wait to have it, and most parents can’t wait for them to have it. Visions of a great job, a starter home –in a super trendy area of course—and finally driving a brand new car fill the minds of most newly minted graduates.

But the scary truth is that college graduates are having an increasingly difficult time finding work after graduation, and employers complain that most college graduates show up for their first day of work without the most important thing—real job skills. But how can shiny new graduates, fresh out of their college robes, be expected to possess practical job skills before landing their first jobs?

Paul Quinn College (PQC) is so glad that you asked.

Fall 2012 marked the beginning of PQC’s new educational model, the Work Program. The idea is simple. Learn inside the classroom, learn outside the classroom, leave school with less debt, leave school with more skills, then take one step towards truly being independent after graduation. It’s too good to be true you say? Not so, seven schools nationwide are using this educational model with excellent results. PQC is in line to be the eighth—and first minority serving institution—in the work college consortium and the only work college in Texas.

If 1,000 college graduates were surveyed, I would expect at least 95% of them to grumble about their student loans (my friends and I certainly grumble). That “new car” smell is so far in the distance for many college graduates that they—and their parents—are left second guessing the decision to go to an expensive or out-of-state college.

The decision to attend a work college is an easy one that students will not regret. Students work throughout the semester in one of more than ten work stations in exchange for a partial tuition credit to help offset the cost of attendance. To sweeten the pot even more, students may work extra hours for cash in hand. An AME school teaching its students to serve each other and their community while being great stewards of their educational debt. It’s the stuff dreams are made of. And students who graduate from college and show up with the skills necessary to do a great job? It’s the stuff an employer’s dreams are made of.

At PQC, we are in the business of making dreams come true. Many of our students are first generation college students whose families cannot afford to pay the full cost of tuition at a private college. Many of these families are also in no position to financially support a student post-graduation. The work program addresses both ends of the spectrum by making college more affordable, and by positioning students to truly be independent after graduation.

Our students are encouraged to strive for greatness, and the PQC Work Program is a transformative step in that direction. It is possible to graduate college, land a great job, and to perhaps even have an out-of-body “new car” smell experience, but the key is preparation and innovation. Please partner with the PQC community as we encourage servant leadership, integrity, and independence in our students, and as we “work towards a greater WE.”

The Work Program is led by Kendrea Tannis, Esq., a graduate of Duke Law School. She may be reached at ktannis@pqc.edu or you can learn more about the PQC Work Program at www.pqc.edu.