Teach for America still taking applications

More and more college graduates are entering a program called Teach for America (TFA). The program is a non-profit organization which allows recent college graduates to make an impact on students living in low-income communities through teaching. According to TFA’s web site, “corps members,” as the young teachers are referred to, are placed in one of the 39 urban and rural areas for a two-year commitment. Senior Liz Weil says that TFA “runs on the principal of leadership and looks to hire strong and charismatic people who will inspire students.” Applicants do not need to have a degree in teaching nor have aspirations to become a teacher to enter the program, just a desire to help low-income students succeed in school.

Weil applied to the program and recently received the news that she got a position in Colorado teaching bilingual education. Weil interned with TFA over the summer and found that every “corps member” she talked with had a positive experience with the program. Not only did many current members tell her that joining TFA was a good break in between college and a career but the fact that they felt like they were making an impact on low-income students was extremely rewarding. As an added benefit, TFA will also grant loan forbearance to those students who still have college loans to pay off.

Last year 18 percent of Yale graduates applied for Teach for America as an alternative to going straight to graduate school or pursuing a career. Puget Sound has been following in its footsteps and although 18 percent of the graduating class did not apply, TFA is becoming more popular. Last year there were 46,000 applicants and TFA only has a base of 8,200 members, half of whom have already been in their position for one of the two years.

Unfortunately, this year alone, many Puget Sound seniors have been turned down during different phases of the application process. Clearly, TFA is becoming more popular as a post-graduation pathway, especially in an economy where job security is extremely vulnerable.

Despite the more regret letters that are sent out to applicants, this is no fact to deter students from applying to the program. There are still two more application deadlines for interested seniors: Dec. 17, 2010 and Feb. 4, 2011. For more information on the application process, talk to Sarah Zdankiewicz at or log on to the Teach for America website to learn more about the program because “only 1 in 10 students growing up in poverty will graduate from college” and you could be a vital piece to solving this problem.