“CRAFTSBURY, Vt. — After college, many students spend years working off tens of thousands of dollars in school debt. But at seven ‘‘Work Colleges’’ around the country, students are required to work on campus as part of their studies — doing everything from landscaping and growing and cooking food to public relations and feeding farm animals — to pay off at least some of their tuition before they graduate.

The arrangement not only makes college more affordable for students who otherwise might not be able to go to school, it also gives them real-life experience while teaching them responsibility and how to work together, officials said. ‘‘I love it,’’ said Melissa Eckstrom, of Philadelphia, who is an assistant garden manager at Sterling College in Craftsbury, Vt., where she is studying sustainable agriculture.

‘‘It’s really satisfying to work in the garden and do all this hands-on, you know, dirty work — and I go to the kitchen and sit down for a meal and I’m like, I grew this. It can’t get more full circle than that,’’ she said.”

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