An Amazing Opportunity
My co-op experience has been amazing and I would recommend students to take the opportunity and do a co-op or internship experience prior to searching for a job. The methods I am learning in the classroom have gone hand in hand with things I am learning on the job, which has helped me apply my knowledge in both areas. The work experience will also help build an excellent resume (including relevant work experience) for when I'm out of the classroom and searching for a job.
Value of a Co-Op or Internship
Some internships are treated as a long interview which is a great way to show the employer your skills instead of just telling them in a typical hour long interview. It gives those of us who aren't good at being interviewed a chance to show what we we can do for the company. It is also an excellent way to start networking. I suggest that not only college students but high school students as well should seek out these opportunities.
If you are still unsure of what you want to pursue as a career, this is an excellent way to figure it out. Being able to say that you have work experience before you graduate college will put you ahead of those graduates who don't. It is a tough job market out there and employers are always looking for the candidate that will stand out among the piles of applications they go through.
So ultimately what you have to ask yourself is, What have I done that will make me stand out above the competition?