LAWRENCE — Starting with the Class of 2022, Rider University students who meet specific requirements are essentially guaranteed a job in their field of study or acceptance into graduate or professional school within six months of graduation.

Eligible students who fail to achieve either of those goals within six months will be provided with focused career coaching, and could receive additional education from Rider at no charge, or a paid internship.

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The university's Cranberry Investment officially launched on April 2; it'll be open to undergrad students attending in the fall — from first-year students to four-year students.

"Students who invest in a Rider education should feel confident that we are going to do everything within our power to make sure they reach their full potential," said university president Gregory Dell'Omo.

In order to take advantage of the opportunity, students must meet prerequisites that show they are willing to put in the work. They're required to meet with career coaches during their time at Rider, graduate within eight semesters, and earn a grade point average no lower than 2.75 — some degrees require a higher minimum.

"What we really want to make certain is that they participate in an enriched career experience while they are at Rider, and that would be something along the lines of an internship or co-op, maybe doing guided research with a faculty member," said DonnaJean Fredeen, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

In 2020, Rider announced an initiative called Lifting Barriers that aims to get 95% of students participating in experiences such as internships, guided research and performances. In 2017, Rider launched a program that requires certain curricular and/or extracurricular activities of every graduate.

"Not only do we think this is just very much a part of our holistic approach to our students' education, and we feel that we have a responsibility to assist in terms of what happens after college — we certainly hope parents and students decide that Rider University is the best value out there, as a consequence," Fredeen said of the Cranberry Investment.

Rider learned of the "job promise" concept at a conference. Very few institutions offer similar opportunities.

Saint Elizabeth University, located in Morristown, in 2016 launched its SEU Promise program, which promises a paid internship to any student who fails to land a job or graduate/professional school after participating for four years in the university's intense career development program. The first students to complete the program graduated in May 2020.

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