Miami University freshman Carter Waye graduated from Moeller High School earlier this year and he is already exploring — through an unusual university job program — a potential career in the steel processing industry.
But more importantly, thanks to Miami’s pioneer efforts in developing the Work Plus program, which officials describe as a “win-win-win” student, school and industry program, Waye is on track to graduate from Miami debt-free.
Few college students across America can say that and Waye appreciates both the career opportunities — and the financial benefits — of Miami’s Work Plus program.
Now in its second year, Work Plus recently doubled its participating area companies from three to six and this school year Worthington Industries, a steel processing company in Monroe, is one of the happy newcomers, said Mike Perry, director of human resources for the Columbus, Ohio-based company.
“We think the program is beneficial to the students and it really falls in line with our commitment to our community,” said Perry.
“Working with Miami University and its regionals, we’re able to work with the students and those students come into an industry they are probably unfamiliar with and learn from it.”
“They get to work. They get to make a little money and they get to go college debt free,” he said.
Joining Worthington as new Miami partners this school year are YMCA of Greater Dayton and FastestLabs. The program helps companies staff hard-to-keep-filled positions with Miami regional students.
Miami University President Gregory Crawford said Work Plus “is an innovative and unique experiential learning opportunity because business needs drive the program and higher education provides the wraparound services that empower students to succeed on the job and in the classroom.”
“It is a win-win-win partnership for students, companies and our society,” said Crawford.
Miami officials said “as others have grappled with proposals for ‘free college’ and debt forgiveness, Miami has pioneered a model that allows students to graduate with a Miami degree debt-free.”
Students are hired into entry level positions, working about 24 hours a week and committing to the company for one year at a time. The Work Plus employers provide an hourly wage and pay the tuition and general fees for each of their Work Plus students.
Ohio higher education officials were so impressed last year with Work Plus, they are pushing Miami’s approach to colleges and universities across the state.
Waye, who is from Mason and studying business management at both Miami regional campuses in Middletown and Hamilton, is grateful for the program, which is being duplicated by post-secondary schools around Ohio.
When he first learned of the program while enrolling for his first year at Miami he thought “this is too good to be true.”
Waye works for now in the company’s steel slitting department, where the metal is cut to order for industries around the nation. He has others package the wrapped steel sheets for shipping.
He is one of six other Miami regional students working at Worthington and he makes $16.50 on top of the company covering his tuition costs.
“It’s exciting. And you can be ahead of the game when you get out of college instead of having to pay off debt so I can be ahead in my life,” Waye said.