Any Top College Bias Vs. HS Teaching Careers?

<p>I'd love to hear the opinions of CC's astute and experienced parents.</p>

<p>D is an excellent, well-rounded student (Top 1-3% at a very competitive HS; 1520 SAT), with a great deal of ability and interest in creative writing and theatre (acting, dance, and singing), and wants to major in English (perhaps minoring in creative writing, theatre, biology, or psychology), attend grad school, and have a career in teaching (most likely at the HS level -- she'd love to teach AP English and run the Theatre Department too; but perhaps at the college PhD level).</p>

<p>Anyway, a couple of friends have WARNED to avoid stressing an interest in HS teaching in the applications or in the essays when applying to the top universities and LAC's. They seem to think that the adcoms at such places often think of themselves as "gatekeepers" to a very limited and select number of spaces in an undergraduate class and that a STRONG preference is given towards kids who aspire to MD's, JD's, PhD's, MBA's, etc.</p>

<p>While I am as cynical as the next guy (and probably more cynical than most), I have difficulty truly believing that a student with an expressed passion for teaching at HS (aside: I have MANY relatives who do and I think it's an incredibly noble and fulfilling way to spend one's time and make one's living), with the abilities and talent to back up that expressed passion, would have their application somehow "down-graded" for this reason by these "Gatekeepers."</p>

<p>So the Question: Do you believe ANY top college would have a bias towards the application of someone expressing an interest in a HS teaching career?</p>

<p>This isn't a hypothetical question because if we were to assume that the top colleges were biased in this manner, it would NOT be in the applican'ts best self-interest to make this passion and career plan the central or even a significant part of the slant of their application.</p>

<p>Thank you for your thoughts.</p>

<p>I think ad coms take whatever the student says about their career goals with a grain of salt. Many (most?) of those MD, JD, PhD aspirants are going to end up in totally different carrers anyway. Some probably even end up teaching high school. I think a heart-felt essay is more important than an 18-year old's stated career plan. And if your daughter can write a heart-felt essay about aspiring to teach high school, she should go for it.</p>

<p>I agree with Texas 137. Many top schools also have programs for future teachers, including specific courses such as math or physics for future teachers. That would not indicate bias against k-12 teachers. Incidentally, my S has a student teacher in one of his classes. She is a Georgetown grad who is studying for her MA. in education. She is currently shadowing the lead teacher, and helping out with the class and will take charge of the class next semester. There has been a similar arrangement with some of my S's classes every year. Another student teacher he had was a Princeton grad.</p>

<p>I think having a passionate interest in any career is an appealing trait in teenagers, but I also suspect that there is an underlying disrespect toward high schol teachers among the various elites. That disrespect is reflected to some extent in various CC postings. Certainly high school teacher with doctorates are often among the most respected faculty members at their schools, and may well be paid at least as wel as faculty members at soem colleges, but they are still members of a group that affluent and vocal parents in certain types of both public and private schools tend to look down on, however subtly. (If you have any doubt that parents can take a dim and occasionally elitist view of teachers, review the long thread that appeared on CC recently about the Vermont high school music department that was perceived as failing to appreciate the talented daughter of one of CC's frequent posters; I don't mention that to judge the rights and wrongs of the situation, onlyto point out the underlying attitude, questioned by very few on that thread, that teachers were essentially pencil-pushing hacks who wanted to maintain the mediocre status quo becuase to do otherwise would be too much work for them. So, returning to your actual question, I'd say it's great to express an interest in teaching if that's what your chidl really wants to do. But I don't think I would specify high school teaching. Teaching in general offers all sorts of possibilities and ideals. There may be at least a shred of truth in the idea that admissions people don't think of their institutions as places that would train career high school teachers.</p>

<p>What you have heard isn't true. I know that when it comes to places like HPYS, having a strong demonstrated interest in high school or elementary or even preschool teaching would make the applicant stand out in a great way.</p>

<p>Such universities get an overabundance of students who want to go to law schools, business schools, medical schools and have other hjgh paying, prestigious careers. The universities, however, want to attract a diverse student body -- diverse in all kinds of ways including students' planned careers. </p>

<p>The universities also want their alums to impact society in general, not just health care, politics and big business. Finally, the universities also want to attract students who are interested in attending the universities because of their love of learning, not because the students are trying to follow some yellow brick road to wealth. Clearly, anyone who plans to be a teacher is not going to college in hopes of becoming wealthy.</p>

<p>Your daughter should make her passion for high school teaching clear to the colleges. Yes, the colleges know that your daughter may change her mind about her career. But the way your daughter is thinking about college and her life after college is very different in a good way from the way that many top 25 college applicants think. That will be to your D's benefit if she allows her uniqueness to shine.</p>

Thanks for your reply. Obviously, elite colleges aren't going to admit to any reservations about h.s. teaching careers. But, for any given elite institution, there is certainly the chance that the "gatekeeping" metaphor turns their job into valuing certain paths more than others. Because you can never predict when this POSSIBLE bias might come into play, I'm beginning to think that it makes sense to not run the risk of making a hs teaching career the focal point of an entire application. An applicant can clearly demonstrate a passion for teaching, communicating, and just generally exchanging ideas without concluding "I want to teach HS" (and risk running into an adcom who clearly believes that this pedestrian* career isn't why they are in the education business -- i.e., if a student wants THAT, State U around the corner can do a decent job for THAT* kind of student).</p>

<p>*My personal belief is 180 degrees removed from this ... I'm just illustrating a point.</p>

<p>I actually do know some Ivy adcoms. I have seen no evidence that they would have a bias against a student who wanted to teach high school. I stand by my belief that a student with a strong demonstrated interest in high school teaching would have an advantage when applying to Ivies. I interview for an Ivy, and virtually every student whom I talk to wants to be a doctor or in a similar field. Most have also done the same ECs. It would be a welcome change to get to see a student who wanted to teach, and who also had participated in ECs related to that interest.</p>

<p>Remember, too, that some Ivies like Harvard and Columbia have graduate schools of education as does Stanford, another excellent university. If they didn't believe in the importance of education, they wouldn't have graduate schools training teachers.</p>

<p>Keep in mind that, at this point, most states require a master's degree as part of getting past the initial teaching certificate. </p>

<p>However, as a HS teacher who has been certified to teach in three different states, it's a LOT easier to get the certificate in the same state as the college you took the program in. I did my initial cert work in MA--no problem to get a certificate there. </p>

<p>BUT, when it came to getting my cert in CA--they required me to take a set of knowledge tests because "MIT is not certified in CA to provide the courses we require for a teaching degree." So: CA accepted courses from their own state U's (including Chico State, which had been put on a provisional license around then), but not from MIT, until I passed their tests. This held up my cert for 6 months.</p>

<p>Then, of course we moved to WA. WA recognized the CA cert, but wanted to verify the course content with MIT and UMass. That took months again.</p>

<p>Moral: if your daughter is sure she wants to teach, go get a good UG degree in her subject, then do a cheap state U program in the state where she wants to teach. Principals like a hard UG degree; the state likes the teaching program.</p>

<p>Please remember that Teach for America was started by a Princeton student and initially recruited mostly among Ivies. No sign of misplaced elitism there.</p>

<p>I do not see the thread by SoozieVT as in any way bashing high school teachers. I've followed the ups and downs of Soozie's two Ds for many months now, and nowhere did I get the feeling that high school teachers in general were being dissed either by Soozie, her D or the posters.
Some teachers deserve bashing and others deserve kudoes. Some of my S's high school teachers have Ph.D.s, and some don't. You would not be able to tell from their performance in the classroom which of them do and which of them don't. Indeed, a few years ago, one of the AP teachers, who had a Ph.D., was considered so awful that students fell over themselves to take a college class in the subject and parents agitated to have her removed. She was replaced with someone, without a Ph.D., who turned out to be a great teacher. In the 10 years that I have been associated with our high school, I've only complained about one teacher. The rest have earned my respect and more importantly, the respect of my children.</p>

<p>My son attended a school that did not have an education department and did not have a program for those who wanted to become a highschool teacher. However, it did have an arrangement with a nearby school that could be utilized if anyone wanted to get a teacher's certification along with their undergraduate degree. However, we did not encourage this with my son. I preferred that he take the many wonderful courses available at his college. Had he decided he wanted to go into teaching, a distinct possibility as he is an experienced and excellent coach, I would have encouraged him to take courses at a state school after graduation for the purpose of becomeing state certified. It would be inexpensive and not be as time consuming as a master's degree, but would prepare him to find a public school teaching job. I felt that since it took my more directed kids so many years of education before getting into a career, it would not be realistic to expect my son who had no idea what he wanted to do, to plunge right into a career and become self sufficient. Which he ended up doing.</p>

<p>I think this is a needless worry. Obviously, the top schools recognize that some of their alumni will go on to teach high school and even elementary school. I happen to know several graduates of top schools who have done so personally. All schools are looking for a mix of interests and talents: they don't want just future business people or future college professors. They do want passion. I would not worry about stating a possible noble career interest like teaching.</p>

<p>It's really hard to say. Clearly the XX colleges produce far more Ed.d's than the similar coed ones (compare Wellesley, Bryn Mawr, Smith with Williams, Amherst, and Swarthmore and it quickly becomes apparent), and hence it is likely that there are far more high school principals, school superintendents, and etc. from these places. (Same would be true for social work-related non-profits.) I also think that some of it might have to do with social class: at my alma mater, 60% of students receive no financial aid (and hence come from families that can afford $168k over four years, roughly the top 5% of the population), and almost 50% come from private schools. Combine this with 8% internationals, and it would seem unlikely that a very large percentage are going to be looking for a career in "public" high school teaching. I think this is why they are so celebrated when it happens. In parallel, Amherst got huge mileage some years ago about the honors grad who became a New York cop, and the reason it got so much mileage is that it is so rare.</p>

<p>So would there be a bias? I'd say probably yes, even if an unconscious one. With so many good colleges and universities out there with strong departments in early childhood development, developmental child psychology, and actual teacher prep courses, I can easily imagine it sticking in an adcoms mind that this is unusual, and might be a representation of lack of clear thinking on the part of the applicant. The applicant could, of course, turn that into a strength by being exceptionally clear and forthright and passionate, but I think the burden would fall on the applicant to do so.</p>

<p>Northstarmom. Carolyn, and others:
You make some very good points.
Thank you.</p>

<p>When I applied to colleges many years ago, my career goal was to be a teacher. Most of the colleges I applied to were highly selective. I was pretty clear that was my goal in my essays and any statements that approached the subject. In retrospect, I felt a bit sheepish about it, since most of the schools did not have an education department,and I was quite naive those days about how things worked. </p>

<p>I can't say that it affected my admissions chances, but I will tell you that within a short time at my chosen college, I did not broadcast my career plans. At such a school, there was negative perception among the STUDENTS about such goals. Many of the kids were far more savvy about how thing worked, and they were more into going to med school, business school, law school or thinking about graduate work. THere were also the engineers and other tecchies. I don't remember another teacher wannabe, but a number of the kids did end up going into teaching later. </p>

<p>I don't think adcoms look at career choices that carefully. Kids change their minds too quickly. They do often look at kids who are going to select a given major if there are slots designated to them, since they do not want to accept more science majors than there are lab stations. If a vast majority of kids apply to engineering in a given year, that will impact the decision for those kids simply for pragmatic reasons. But teaching is a very broad thing to say. You can teach for volunteer programs, for all kinds of things. I would just be careful not say you are interested in special ed courses or other such specific items that a school does not offer, because it then looks like you did not research what is available at that school. It is always smart to make some references in what a school has to offer, and what you can do with it.</p>

<p>In my S's k-8 school, there is a 6th grade teacher who has a Ph.D. from Harvard. He went to Tufts for its superb program in early childhood education and then to the Harvard Graduate School of Education. I don't know if he had seen himself as a teacher of the young when he started his Ph.D., but he had so much fun following a group of students from kindergarten onward for his study of literacy acquisition that he decided to ask for the job of homeroom teacher. He's been in that job for four years, but previously he'd been a volunteer then an assistant teacher. My S encountered him in 3rd grade when he was volunteering and then in 7th grade when he was the science teacher.</p>

<p>There is a highly respected senior professor at Harvard who started her career teaching junior high school. She says it was the most challenging job she ever had, and she credits much of her subsequent success in life (she went on to take high level management posts in government as well as university teachng) was due to the skills she acquired in teaching junior high. </p>

<p>After you've taught junior high, she says, everything else in life looks easy! Managing several dozen young teens makes chairing a faculty meeting with "difficult" professors look like a piece of cake, by contrast.</p>



<p>I agree completely!</p>

<p><after you've="" taught="" junior="" high,="" she="" says,="" everything="" else="" in="" life="" looks="" easy!=""></after></p>

<p>The most important skill you learn teaching junior high (and high school) is how to solve this problem (as stated to me by my first principal, the highly talented Francisca Miranda):</p>

<p>"First, you've got to get their attention."</p>

<p>And that's what makes teaching so challenging.</p>

<p>"Do you believe ANY top college would have a bias towards the application of someone expressing an interest in a HS teaching career?"</p>

<p>At top LACs there would be a bias, but it would be a positive one. Most of the instructors at selective LACs are PhDs. They are accomplished intellectuals, but first and foremost, they are teachers. They have infinite respect for educators of children of all ages. </p>

<p>The focus on undergraduate teaching is the main reason we LAC supporters are so enthusiastic about our children's experiences. At large research universities many of the professors are writers, scientists, celebrities first and teachers by default. At LACs you get accessible devoted teachers. My son went to a high school with an extraordinarily good administration and faculty. He was, and remains, very close to many of his teachers, academically and personally. He was looking for this kind of supportive and personal relationship when he chose his college and he has not been disappointed.</p>

<p>If your daughter's passion is teaching and if her interest is teenagers, then by all means she should let this come across in her application. It should be reflected in her ECs, essays and recommendations.</p>

<p>Some colleges make getting a teaching job right after graduation easy by offering certification programs or separate "if you want to teach" programs. I don't think this is really a criteria for choosing a college but it's a way to judge their open-mindedness. Williams, for example (I'm sorry to go on about Williams, but it's what I know the most about) offers what they call the Williams Program in Teaching to help students interested in careers as teachers get the proper qualifications -- within the framework of the liberal arts education -- and gain experience along the way.
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<p>I completely agree with Norstarmom and Marite, as well. I think the most selective colleges would look favorably upon a student who expressed an interest in teaching. In no way do I believe that would be frowned upon. In fact, those coming from elite colleges do go into teaching among other professions. </p>

<p>Just myself alone (lol)...
I went to Tufts and eventually became a teacher. I went to graduate school at Harvard (as Marite says, some elite colleges have graduate schools of education so obviously value this profession) and focused on staff development and have since been a teacher of teachers on both the undergraduate and graduate level, as well as consulting to schools. So, there is one person for ya. </p>

<p>Mattmom, I am taken by the impression you got in a previous thread where I shared about a situation my D had in school recently. It seems you inferred that I (and/or others) were bashing teachers in some fashion. I would like to clarify that I do NOT feel that way WHATSOEVER. I like the teachers involved in that situation, have supported them in the past and continue to do so. I do not like how that situation was handled and have concerns over it as well as feel I would have handled it differently as a teacher (having been a teacher for many years, as well as someone who trains teachers). To generalize about teachers in any negative fashion, I find offensive and am often the first to ask anyone who does so to please keep the negative feedback to the situation or person involved and not ALL teachers as a group. In fact, I feel that the majority of teachers both my kids have had in the past 15 years have been excellent or very good. I feel we have only run into about five out of countless ones over the years, where I have had some true concerns about their work as a teacher. I feel lucky that there have been so few where I can say that. Those few were quite troublesome and the situations disconcerting (and I am NOT counting the latest vignette I shared among these at all), and I never generalized it to include all teachers. As in any profession, there are some who do an excellent job with devotion and others who do not. Most do, fortunately. </p>

<p>In my many posts on that thread, I believe I even shared how recently, I ran into a history teacher that both my kids have had but particularly my oldest, a current freshman at Brown, had had for two years. I made it my business to go up to him in a store, with tears in my eyes as I shared with him how my D at college had been telling me how much everything she had learned with this teacher had helped her in current college courses and had recently requested me to bring her old HS notebooks from his class to her campus on our visit. I told him the affect he had on her life and the difference he had made and how well he prepared her for the challenges at her college, even coming from our rural public high school (he is a highly intelligent and challenging teacher, educated at Middlebury). I told him that I know, being a teacher as a profession myself, how teachers often hear when parents or others are dissatisfied and it is important for me to make sure when something is positive, that a teacher get that feedback as well, as they often do not. He told me how much it meant to him. Even in my recent meeting with the music staff (that they asked for as I would never have gone in to intervene or complain about the situation), I praised them with how good I thought last year's spring musical was and so forth. After every single concert (and I have been to tons of them over the years), I go up to them and praise them for how great it was.</p>

<p>Teachers work VERY hard. I know, as I was one. I am not now as I don't feel like I could do it all while raising my kids because when I taught school, I stayed every day until 6 PM and worked all day Sunday on my job. I know what it takes to be a dedicated teacher. I have seen my kids relish in such teachers now. I also think it is fair, as a parent or student, to express concern when we think actions by a teacher are not as appropriate or as we might hope them to be or have negatively affected our kids in some way. Example, last year, a teacher of my younger D told her that she does not care for her as a person and in fact, when I mentioned that to the teacher at a parent conference the school had with teachers at progress report time, the teacher validated, "that's right, I don't". I could go on but the point being that sometimes even those in this very noble dedicated profession, have done some not so noble things. That does not make it a blanket statement that we look down on teachers. I have to tell you that we feel just the opposite. My husband was on the school board at my kids' elem school for years, even after they graduated, and one of his missions was to support teachers and raise salaries and get the school anything they asked for. I am surprised that you came away from that story inferring a negative view toward teachers. I still think the actions in that situation concerned me as how they were handled and the affect they had on children but that does not mean that I frown upon teachers and in fact, continue to have a working relationship with these particular staff members. </p>