For Co-op Students, College Pays (Unless They Get Laid Off)

Cooperative education helps students beef up their résumés and earn some money during college: two welcome prospects in tight economic times. But it also means that college doesn't provide the usual escape from the realities of the job market. After all, students can't get laid off from English 101.

About 100 colleges in the United States offer co-op programs, in which students intersperse periods of work with on-campus instruction. The jobs are paid, but students also