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LACs and education majors

EMM1EMM1 Registered User Posts: 2,583 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.
Post edited by EMM1 on

Replies to: LACs and education majors

  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 76,073 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.
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 36,886 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.
  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Registered User Posts: 35,861 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.
  • absweetmarieabsweetmarie Registered User Posts: 1,905 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).
  • tk21769tk21769 Registered User Posts: 10,606 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.
  • EMM1EMM1 Registered User Posts: 2,583 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..
  • sybbie719sybbie719 Super Moderator Posts: 22,609 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.
  • absweetmarieabsweetmarie Registered User Posts: 1,905 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).
  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Registered User Posts: 35,861 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
  • EMM1EMM1 Registered User Posts: 2,583 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).
  • SteveMASteveMA Registered User Posts: 6,079 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
    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.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 32,390 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.
  • parent15parent15 Registered User Posts: 123 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.
  • SteveMASteveMA Registered User Posts: 6,079 Senior Member
    lookingforward--this girl couldn't get an UG degree at a state school "university" in SPED either.....
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 36,886 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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