Alma College is one of 25 colleges that has been selected to participate in the first cohort of the Work-Based Learning (WBL) Consortium, a program run by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC).
“The Council of Independent Colleges is an association of over 650 small and medium-sized private, not-for-profit colleges and universities committed to the liberal arts, and Alma College is a member,” said Provost Sean Burke.
The primary purpose of the WBL Consortium is to provide a community that works to eliminate obstacles that many students face when looking for work-based experiences, like internships. These obstacles may include “location, skills, personal obligations, social capital [and more],” said Burke.
As stated, Alma College was selected to be one of only 25 schools in the entirety of the WBL Consortium, and this was earned through completing a competitive application. According to the CIC, the Scots’ rival, Albion College is the only other selected school in the immediate area.
With selectivity illustrating the prestige, this is an important opportunity for Alma College as work-based experiences are highly valued by employers when analyzing students entering the job market. Furthermore, among other pros, Alma College students enrolled in classes will directly benefit from participation in the WBL Consortium.
“The biggest benefit of Alma College’s participation [in the WBL Consortium] is that five faculty will be able to work with Riipen, a company that has developed a platform that matches colleges and companies based on projects that are [of] mutual interest,” said Burke.
More detailed information can be found on the CIC website; however, the base of Riipen lies on the idea that it is “a work-based learning platform helping educators, organizations and learners collaborate on real industry projects to bridge the gap between higher education and employment,” said the CIC website on Riipen.
The five selected faculty will then go on to incorporate these work-based opportunities firsthand into their classrooms and courses which will utilize the previously mentioned platform to pair students with employers as a part of their projects and course work.
“I think it’ll be a really special opportunity for students to be able to get new experiences through this program. It’ll help build resumes for sure, and I’m hoping it’ll be in one of my classrooms,” said Brent Riehl (’26).
The CIC website explains that the new learning material and platforms will be incorporated into actual student courses in the Spring of 2024.
While it can be seen there are many advantages to the program, it will be rather small in the beginning, trial years. “The only downside is that this is initially limited to five Alma courses,” said Burke.
However, after the three-year research period with the CIC, assuming positive results, the opportunity-filled model of education will expand to reach numerous pupils at many different schools like Alma College. “Our mission compels us to seek out such partnerships to provide equitable access for all learners to gain employability skills required for career success,” said Dave Savory, the co-founder and vice president of experiential learning at Riipen, to the CIC when addressing the WBL Consortium.