It's Harder Than Ever to Teach for America

Teach for America is a nonprofit organization that sends college graduates on short-term teaching assignments in educationally under-served areas, typically urban and rural. This year, the organization announced a record number of applicants, which follows a general trend from the past few years.

View popular schools

By Sarah Wright


A Record Number of Applicants

For recent college graduates, including graduate students, Teach for America is one of several public service options available after leaving school. But it's getting competitive. In 2008, Teach for American received 24,718 applications, which was a record at that time. The upward trend increased, with more than 35,000 applications received in 2009, and about 46,000 in 2010. For 2011, almost 48,000 prospective teachers applied, and only 11% were accepted.

Those 5,200 new teachers will be an integral part of the Teach for America (TFA) mission of training qualified teachers to serve in poverty-stricken areas where educational opportunities are limited. This group of teachers, referred to as a corps, is expected to serve for two years. With the new first-year teachers included, the total corps for 2011 will be 9,300 strong. Corps members are not volunteers; they receive benefits including a salary, student loan forbearance and health insurance.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Agricultural Education for Teachers
  • Art Teacher Education
  • Biology Education for Teachers
  • Business Teacher Education
  • Chemistry Teacher Education
  • Drama and Dance Teacher Education
  • Driver Safety Teacher Education
  • English Teacher Education
  • Foreign Language Education for Teachers
  • French Language Teacher Education
  • Geography Teacher Education
  • German Language Teacher Education
  • Health Occupations Teacher Education
  • Health Teacher Education
  • History Teacher Education
  • Home Economics Teacher Education
  • Industrial Arts Teacher Education
  • Latin Teacher Education
  • Mathematics Teacher Education
  • Music Teacher Education
  • Physical Education and Coaching
  • Physics Teacher Education
  • Psychology Teacher Education
  • Sales and Marketing Teacher Education
  • Science Teacher Education
  • Social Science Teacher Education
  • Social Studies Teacher Education
  • Spanish Education for Teachers
  • Speech Teacher Education
  • Teaching, Computers
  • Teaching, Reading
  • Technical Teacher Education
  • Vocational Teacher Education

Who Was Accepted, and Where Will They Go?

The new crop of TFA teachers come from schools of all sizes and locations. The schools contributing the most graduates are the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, University of California, Berkeley and The University of Texas at Austin, with 199, 89 and 87 graduates joining the corps, respectively. Smaller-sized schools had proportionately smaller numbers of enrolled corps members, including 66 from Harvard University, 49 from Brown University, 36 from Spelman College and 18 from Amherst College.

TFA places its members based on their preferences, their abilities and where the most demonstrated need is. According to the organization's website, math and science, Spanish and bilingual education, special education and early childhood are particular subjects of interest in areas that recruit the corps. Though there are opportunities in most of the main urban centers in the U.S., TFA points to the Mississippi Delta as a particular region of interest.

Is it the Economy?

The sorry state of the U.S. economy is getting blamed for a lot of things at this point, so it seems like a tired excuse to just say that the economy is a factor in a change like this. But the fact is that college graduates these days are faced with a remarkably small number of career choices. The job market and graduate school admissions are extremely competitive right now, and recent college grads just might not have what it takes to beat out the more experienced individuals now forced to vie for the same positions.

Organizations like Teach for America, that are designed to accept recent college grads, are now seeming like a more appealing option for many. But we don't think that's the only factor in play. As an organization, TFA is gaining visibility. And their mission of bringing well-educated teachers to underserved areas is one that is likely to appeal to a generation that tends to feel strongly about social justice and equality. Sure, the bad economy might serve as a nudge toward service, but it would be unfair to assume that these new TFA corps members are in it solely because they can't find anything else to do.

Teach for America is just one way that students in rural schools can learn.

Next: View Schools

What is your highest level of education?

Some College
Complete your degree or find the graduate program that's right for you.
High School Diploma
Explore schools that offer bachelor and associate degrees.
Still in High School
Earn your diploma or GED. Plan your undergraduate education.

Schools you may like:

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

    • MA in Teaching (for Aspiring Teachers Grades 5-12)
    • MS in Education (for Practicing Teachers Grades K-12)
    • MS in Higher Ed - College Teaching and Learning
    • BS in Early Childhood Administration

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction
    • Master of Education in Elementary Education
    • Education Specialist in Educational Leadership Curriculum & Instruction

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Doctor of Education in Teaching and Learning with an Emphasis in Adult Learning
    • Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership - Behavioral Health
    • MA in Curriculum and Instruction
    • M.A. in Communication with an Emphasis in Education
    • M.A. in History with an Emphasis in Education
    • M.S. in Sociology with an Emphasis in Education
    • Master of Science in Biology with an Emphasis in Education
    • Master of Science in Chemistry with an Emphasis in Education
    • Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education
    • B.S. in Elementary Education with an Emphasis in Christian Education
    • Bachelor of Science in Math for Secondary Education
    • BS in Early Childhood
    • B.S. in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education

    What is your highest level of education?

  • What is your highest level of education?

    • Ed.S. in Mathematics Leadership
    • Doctor of Education - Character Education
    • Doctor of Education - Curriculum & Instruction
    • Ph.D. in Education - Character Education
    • Ph.D. in Education - Curriculum & Instruction
    • Ed.S. in Educational Leadership - Character Education
    • M.Ed. in Leadership in Mathematics Education
    • M.Ed. - Individualized Degree Program
    • M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction
    • M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction - Christian School
    • M.Ed. in K-12 Special Education - Reading Specialist
    • M.Ed. in Reading Specialist - Licensure (Reading)
    • Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • MEd in Curriculum & Instruction - Leadership
    • MEd in Curriculum and Instruction - STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math)
    • MEd in Curriculum & Instruction - Reading
    • MEd in Curriculum & Instruction - Science
    • MEd in Curriculum & Instruction - Mathematics
    • M.Ed in Career and Technical Education Leadership

    What is your highest level of education?

  • What is your highest level of education?

    • Elementary Education, B.A. without Licensure
    • Early Childhood Education, B.A. without Licensure

    What is your highest level of education completed?

  • What is your highest level of education completed?

    • MA in Education and Human Development in Educational Technology Leadership
    • MA in Education and Human Development in Organizational Leadership and Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?