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5 Things to Consider Before Applying to Teach for America

Teaching is one of the toughest jobs in the world, but it’s also incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. One group of leaders that know all too well about the challenges of teaching and trying to make a difference is Teach for America. This national teacher corps is comprised of recent college grads and professionals who are committed to teaching two years in underserved urban and rural public schools. The organization’s mission is to close the achievement gap between low-income students and their peers, and raise education expectations for all students. If you are interested in joining this noble cause, make sure you do your homework, talk to previous Teach for America teachers, and consider these five things before sending your application.

  1. What are your career aspirations?:

    Teach for America accepts candidates of all backgrounds, not just previous educators or those with education degrees. However, it’s important to consider your career aspirations, both short-term and long-term, before applying. Teach for America does an excellent job preparing teachers for a lifelong career in education, but it may not be appropriate to use Teach for America as a temporary career if you don’t want to teach beyond your two-year stint.

  2. Are you flexible?:

    The field of teaching requires flexibility and an open mind, and it’s especially important when joining Teach for America. You’ll need to keep an open mind when specifying your preferences for regions, grade levels, and subjects, and be flexible in your placement. You may get assigned to an unfamiliar region, teaching a new subject, but it’s important to remain flexible and open to change.

  3. Can you handle the challenges?:

    Teach for America is a wonderfully rewarding program, but it definitely has its fair share of challenges. In addition to the challenges of teaching, Teach for America instructors also have social and economic disadvantages to consider. After all, Teach for America’s mission is to close the educational achievement gap for low-income students. It’s a rewarding challenge that requires a lot of hard work and dedication.

  4. Are you willing to move?:

    Before you apply to Teach for America, make sure you are ready and willing to move. Even though you have preferred regions, you may end up in a completely different part of the country in an unfamiliar urban or rural community. It’s important to keep an open mind when applying and know that some regions have a greater availability as well as more stringent coursework requirements for teachers than other regions.

  5. Are you patient?:

    Patience is a necessity in teaching, but it’s especially important when applying for Teach for America. The program has become increasingly competitive, and its acceptance rate for teachers in 2011 was 11%. Many applicants will be put on a waitlist, but not all will be accepted. If you don’t get accepted into Teach for America, you should reapply before the next deadline and wait patiently to hear back.

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