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Teach for America: Grad Students Help Where They Can

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College seniors have discovered they can do a lot more use skipping the backpacking trip through Europe after their senior year of school and instead spend some time helping students in poor communities.

Helping America’s Poor

At a faster rate than ever, graduate students have taken on the desire to help in some of the United State’s poorest communities. Setting aside college internships and handling student loans, they are signing up for two years worth of educating in a program called Teach for America. This program has a design to help give some of the top college graduates get the experience they need for teaching jobs. In addition, the nonprofit organization does it with educating the poor. It is a win-win situation for everyone.

As the 2007 to 2008 school year draws to a close, Teach for America has seen the number of applications it has gotten rise dramatically from 18,000 in the past years to 25,000 this year. More so, of that number, probably 3700 of them will actually get into the program and start teaching this fall. Last year’s number is not too shabby either, with about 3000 students that did so.

<It’s Not An Easy In

One thing is for sure. Teach for America is not an organization for just anyone. Anyone thinking that it is may be sorely mistaken, too. Only a specific type of person is able to get into the program. The group, which has been in place since 1990, has spent extra time this year increasing the number of recruiters they have working for them. They did an estimated 30,000 one on one interviews this year and went to about 400 colleges across the country.

To accomplish this new level of recruiting, a larger budget was put in place (which grew to $110 million this year up from $40 million in 2005.) Fundraising is where all the funds come from, rather than government sponsored incentives. One of the key benefactors of the organization is Eli Broad, who, with his foundation, has given some $16 million to the program. In a recent interview, he said, “The results speak for themselves,” he told the Chicago Tribune. “It’s one of the best investments our foundation has made.”

What’s Accomplished Means More

A look at the accomplishments of Teach for America highlights why so many graduate students are interested in entering this program. First, studies have shown that the members of the program are just as effective or even more effective than other educations who enter the schools in the more traditional methods. In addition, a study done by the Urban Institute shows that the high school teachers in the program had a unique ability to help improve math and science test scores of their students.

There are critics, namely those that do not believe that those who enter the Teach for America program have enough education to teach in some of the most challenged of school systems. That is because they only get five weeks of very intense training during the summer prior to when they will start the program.

Teach for America is likely to be an ongoing success. If you have thought about that first year after school ends, you may be interested in getting into a program that allows you to give back in such a unique way.

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