Education: How Co-op Copes

Boston's Northeastern University has 38,000 full-and part-time students, which makes it just about the largest private university in the U.S., but it has long been overshadowed by the fame of such neighbors as Harvard and M.I.T. Lately, however, many educators have come to look on Northeastern's work-study program as an answer to their own institutions' financial troubles. The reason: by adopting the Northeastern system, a college can increase its enrollment by 40% without having to hire new faculty or constructing new buildings.

The system works this way: after a conventional freshman year, a student...

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