May 23, 2019 | 66° F

Free tuition challenge at Rutgers encourages career development, professional skills

Photo by Catherine Nguyen |

 Christina Gonzalve, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, was the winner for the Fall 2018 Free Tuition challenge. In order to be eligible for the prize, she had to complete tasks relating to career development and improving professional skills. 

Over the past four years, University Career Services has been offering students the opportunity to earn a semester of free tuition through the #RutgersWorks Free Tuition Career Challenge.

“The #RutgersWorks Free Tuition challenge is an incentive program that rewards Rutgers students for their participation in career-related activities both in person and online,” said Kaitlyn Weiss, associate director for Strategic Outreach at University Career Services. 

Students must complete at least ten challenge requirement “stamps” in order to be entered into the drawing for free tuition for the following semester. Stamps can be earned through involvement in events held by University Career Services and online at Rutgers Handshake. 

The challenges, which are worth different amounts of stamps, range from field trips to company offices, to finding a part-time job, to activating the Rutgers Handshake account.

“Last semester, over 2,400 students created a game board and competed in the #RutgersWorks Free Tuition challenge,” Weiss said. “And currently 49 percent of the current student body has activated their Handshake account.” 

Weiss said the challenge not only offers students the opportunity to win a semester of free tuition, but also helps to expose them to all of the resources University Career Services offers that makes the challenge possible in the first place. 

The winner of the Fall 2018 Free Tuition challenge was Christina Gonzalve, a School of Arts and Sciences junior. She said as an introvert, participating in the challenge helped her to improve her networking skills and was an incentive for her to get out of her comfort zone. 

“To be fortunate enough to win was icing on the cake, and it has definitely helped me feel more confident and engaged in my classes this semester,” she said. “It helped me realize that college presents you with a lot of opportunities to succeed, but you have to be willing to put in the work to chase it.”

Weiss said the funding for the Free Tuition challenge came from revenue earned at career fairs, as well as various other giving opportunities. 

Nikita Patel, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior, is one of the many students participating in the #RutgersWorks Free Tuition challenge for the spring semester. 

“The Free Tuition challenge is a golden opportunity that would help me discover myself, meet career counselors, upgrade my resume, make me more aware of field trips, enhance my interviewing skills and help me keep my Handshake profile upgrade,” Patel said. 

Other than entering for the chance for free tuition, she said students learn more about themselves and the resources students have at their disposal that University Career Services has to offer. 

“I am grateful to Career Services for a great opportunity like this that has only benefits for all the participants,” Patel said. “Everyone's a winner even if they don’t really win the free tuition.” 

Madison McGay

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