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LACs and education majors

EMM1EMM1 2486 replies97 threads Senior Member
edited January 2013 in Parents Forum
This thread comes under the heading of "something to be aware of in making the college decision." Like many of her peers, when my daughter was applying to colleges, she really didn't have much of an idea about what profession she wished to pursue. She chose a school that I will only identify as one of the more selective CTCL schools.

By the beginning of her junior year, my daughter had decided that she wished to become a special education teacher. Her school loudly proclaims the fact that many of their graduates become public school teachers. However, we were stunned to find out that not only could she not take the courses necessary for a special ed certification, but that as an undergraduate she could not even take the courses necessary for her basic teaching certification. However, for an additional $25,000, the school would be happy to have her stay for a fifth year and take the necessary courses for basic certification as part of a masters program.

Needless to say, I am more than a little put out by all of this. But people tell me that this situation is not uncommon at LACs (although I can testify to the fact that many LACs with similar admission stats do in fact allow students to obtain undergraduate education degrees).

So here is the bottom line. In my view, unless a) you are absolutely sure that your child is not interested a teaching career or b) money is no object, you should check to be sure that any LAC you are considering allows undergraduates to major in education. Otherwise, cross it off your list.
edited January 2013
31 replies
Post edited by EMM1 on
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Replies to: LACs and education majors

  • thumper1thumper1 78286 replies3528 threads Senior Member
    At some point, all public school teachers need to have a masters degree.

    In education these days, many states (mine is among those) require a bachelors degree in some content area (English, math, science, history, etc) and the education courses are taken in addition to these or as part of an additional year.

    If a student KNOWS they want to be a teacher, their most economical move is usually to fontina public university in their home state...this guaranteeing that they will meet certification requirements in THAT state.

    Many students don't know what they want to major in when they are 17 or 18 year old high school seniors.
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  • intparentintparent 36291 replies644 threads Senior Member
    I recall that my D's LAC required them to start some coursework in their sophomore year to be an education major. She sent me the info (I think all students received it) and we discussed it. She had been thinking about doing that (she taught through the Breakthrough Collaborative for a few summers, but didn't think she wanted to be a teacher right away out of college). She thought the requirements were too onerous, and decided not to do it.

    So... some LACs do cover the coursework, but it needs to be started early. And as Thumper1 pointed out, requirements vary from state to state. So if your kid intends to teach in a different state than the one where they attend college, that needs to be explored as well.
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  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 34785 replies1076 threads Senior Member
    So here is the bottom line. In my view, unless a) you are absolutely sure that your child is not interested a teaching career or b) money is no object, you should check to be sure that any LAC you are considering allows undergraduates to major in education. Otherwise, cross it off your list.

    In my view, education is best viewed as a graduate degree, although my youngest has been taking both environmental education coursework alongside her science classes.
    I agree with thumper that many areas require at least a graduate degree, if not at hiring, then within a few years.

    Oldest, earned a biology degree from a very small LAC which met 100% of need. She didn't get her MAT until this past year, it took a few years to decide she was interested in education even though much of her work experience before & during college was teaching. She also was able to have her studies paid for, on top of earning a salary by being faculty at a K-8 school for her two years of practicum teaching.
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  • absweetmarieabsweetmarie 1846 replies59 threads Senior Member
    Which LACs offer education degrees, EMMI? My understanding is that the term "liberal arts" doesn't include education as a discipline (any more than it includes engineering or business or architecture or other preprofessional disciplines). My D's LAC has a cooperative arrangement with a state school for kids who want to qualify for certification. It may not be the most economical option but I thought a LAC would be the best environment for my D, even though she is considering teaching (she is a freshman, though, and very much informed as to career aspirations).
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  • tk21769tk21769 10710 replies27 threads Senior Member
    A Liberal Arts College by definition does not focus on pre-professional training. Some of them do offer courses (or even majors) in a limited number of professional fields, but that really isn't their mission. If you want career training in such a field, then yes, you better check the school's course offerings before you enroll.

    Academic program offerings usually can be found by Googling for an "academics", "departments", or "majors and minors" page. Examples:
    Reed College | Academics
    Courses of Study- Whitman College
    (These are the 2 most selective CTCL members; they apparently do not offer education majors or minors, unlike some of the others such as Beloit, Centre, and Agnes Scott.)

    EMM1, your D may be able to pick the required education courses much less expensively at a local community college or directional state university. The college's career counseling center may have information about alternatives to their own program. One of my kids graduated from a LAC then got education training through Teach for America.
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  • EMM1EMM1 2486 replies97 threads Senior Member
    1. I cannot comment on the claim that all public schools require teachers to get a master's degree eventually. I know for a fact, however, that a master's is not necessarily required for entry level positions; with only a bachelor's degree, my nephew was hired as an elementary school teacher in a very well-regarded school district in our area within the past three years. There is a HUGE difference between not being able to get a job and being required to take additional courses after having a job.

    2. A started looking at schools that might be considered peers for that of my daughter to find places where a student could get a teaching certificate as an undergrad. I immediately discovered that it was possible for an undergrad to get a teaching certificate at either Dickinson or Skidmore--two of the first three schools that I looked at. In addition, Clark University in Worcester, Mass has a fifth year free program for those who wish to become teachers..
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  • sybbie719sybbie719 20966 replies2052 threads Super Moderator
    2 of my D's best friends are teachers from their "liberal arts" college ; one in private school (got a fellowship to a fancy smancy boarding school where she had free housing and a 40k stipend. After the fellowship, she got another fellowship at another Fancy Smancy Private school in NYC where she is now a full time employee teaching social studies, with some great perks ;) ). The other took a teaching position in Alaska. She also has many friends who did TFA (some stayed as teachers while others moved on to grad school) Yes, I alos chuckled at the fancy smancy comment in one of the other threads.

    There are many roads to becoming a teacher. IF she wants to work in your home city/state, she can take the courses at the local college (which should be her option as she will make sure she takes what she needs for certification as reciprocity can be a bear in some areas).

    Has she considered TFA? She should speak to the career services office to find out how may people get placed in TFA.
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  • absweetmarieabsweetmarie 1846 replies59 threads Senior Member
    Interesting about Skidmore and Dickinson. I don't think these programs are common, though. Clark University is a university, however, not an LAC (notwithstanding it is a SMALL university).
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  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 34785 replies1076 threads Senior Member
    So is she currently a jr? Has she declared a major?
    If she wants to only spend 5 years to earn her BA & a MAT, then she could stay where she is, but she also would have the option to transfer to a university that had a school of Education in the state where she wanted to teach and earn her BA, or graduate at her current school and earn a Teaching certificate through a 5th yr program, elsewhere. ( coursework would probably go toward a MAT down the road)
    Become a Teacher in Ohio | Teacher Certification in Ohio | Certification Map
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  • EMM1EMM1 2486 replies97 threads Senior Member
    My daughter is graduating this year.

    Thanks to everyone for the suggestions. She will either do one of the TFA-like programs or attend a local state university or equivalent (a relative bargain in terms of price).
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  • SteveMASteveMA 6020 replies59 threads Senior Member
    Hummmm, all of the LAC's around here offer education degrees--well, elementary education degrees, for secondary education you major in your subject area and minor in secondary education. Special education, however, requires a masters degree because you first have to have your UG degree then get a masters in special education. All teachers here eventually need a masters degree but outside of SPED, no school will hire you right out of college with no teaching experience with a master's degree.

    Why do people think you get a degree in liberal arts when you go to a LAC? That is just wrong, wrong, wrong. You get a degree in Biology, Chemistry, Accounting, Business, etc. FROM the LAC, not a "degree" in LA.

    Looking at the top LAC on USNWR--starting with

    Williams--offer coursework to obtain your teaching license
    Swarthmore
    Middlebury
    Carleton
    and most of the rest all offer an avenue to become a teacher.

    I don't know where the OP's DD is attending as he won't say but the issue is not with the college, the issue is with the state licensing boards not allowing people with just an UG degree to teach special ed. 5 minutes of research on the state education website would have told them that.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35380 replies399 threads Senior Member
    There are so many potential majors best served at someplace other than an LAC. Can't switch horses to astrophysics or accounting if they don't offer it or it's just a few classes. You do the best with what they offer and come up with a feasible Plan B.
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  • parent15parent15 113 replies10 threads Junior Member
    I would make sure your daughter talks to teachers from several districts in the state where she intends to settle. Some states may require a masters degree, but in this time of budget slashing many districts will only hire the cheapest teacher possible. That means new teachers with masters are priced out of the market. I have even known people to stay a class or two below the masters degree level until after securing a job.
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  • SteveMASteveMA 6020 replies59 threads Senior Member
    lookingforward--this girl couldn't get an UG degree at a state school "university" in SPED either.....
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  • intparentintparent 36291 replies644 threads Senior Member
    Post #3, the college my D attended was Dickinson. I know a Carleton grad from a couple of years ago that is a teacher in MN as well. Not sure if she had to do any extra coursework, though -- but I think she intended to teach all along.
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  • cobratcobrat 12207 replies78 threads Senior Member
    I knew several classmates from Oberlin who became K-12 teachers.

    Some were hired through NY teaching fellow programs where their teaching certifications were paid for while they worked as teachers in underserved areas.

    Others went the charter/private school route first, got teaching certification paid for by their employers, and eventually ended up getting hired in the public school system. One is now teaching math at Midwood. :)

    Still a few others went for a EdM at places like Harvard grad school of Ed or Columbia's Teacher's College and then worked as public school teachers for a few years. Most were on some sort of scholarship from such institutions.
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  • spdfspdf 935 replies20 threads Member
    The situation you're describing is the usual one, and not just at an LAC. What most people are unaware of is that education is a major that is best started freshman year, and that an undergraduate education degree (even at a state university) doesn't normally include a teaching certificate. The certification program classes must be done in addition to the degree coursework, and if you're starting two years late, there's just no way to get it all in. A one-year master's program that includes basic certification isn't a bad solution.

    If your daughter isn't interested in the master's degree (which is required in some states but not others), there are alternative routes to a teaching certificate. In Texas, the Educational Service Centers offer certification classes. These alternative certification programs are either 12 months or 17 months long, though, so that extra $25k year at the LAC can get your daughter into the workplace sooner, and with better credentials and a higher salary to boot.
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  • thumper1thumper1 78286 replies3528 threads Senior Member
    TK...the education courses can NOT be taken at a community college. They are upper level courses.

    To the OP...yes, there IS a difference between being required to get a masters at some point and getting hired with a bachelors. I have been on MANY hiring committees. Especially now when there can be hundreds of applications for ONE job...a masters is viewed very favorably when applications are screened. Many applicants are working as teaching assistants while getting a masters degree. These are very desirable applicants. NO...school districts don't pay their teaching assistants to get their masters, but you do get valuable experience.

    Now that the OPs daughter knows she wants to teach, she can pursue one of the many options for gaining certification to do so, as listed above.

    Good friend graduated from Skidmore. She was NOT able to major in special education there, and went on to get her masters elsewhere after undergrad.
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  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 34785 replies1076 threads Senior Member
    The Special Education program at The Ohio State University has been preparing teachers and leaders in the field for over half a century. The program offers three undergraduate specializations, four master's specializations, a doctoral specialization, three licensure-only programs, and one endorsement program. Our licensure programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the Council for Exceptional Children, and our graduate programs in applied behavior analysis are accredited by the Association for Applied Behavior Analysis International.

    It looks like in Ohio you can go either the undergrad or grad school route to enter special education.

    Im surprised that some lacs are offering the chance to apply for undergrad education certificates. The time spent in practicum must be very limited.
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  • SteveMASteveMA 6020 replies59 threads Senior Member
    emeraldkity4--around here teachers do a 3 week observation during junior year and a semester of student teaching before they graduate. Even at state schools/flagships this is the NORM.
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