You’ve made the decision; you want to be a teacher, and it’s time to earn an education degree. But how to begin? We’re here to help. Below you’ll find the Who, Why, What, Where and How of earning your education degree.
You, of course, that’s who. What do you want out of your degree? Do you have an education specialty in mind? Take some time to consider what kind of program will be best for you. What do you do well when it comes to school? Are you a social butterfly or a bookworm? Do you enjoy the classroom, or do you prefer hanging out online? What is important to you? What gave you trouble in school—writing papers, taking notes, or showing up to class prepared?
All of these are important factors to consider before moving forward. A good exercise is to sit down and write down answers to the questions above. No matter what degree you pursue, college is challenging, and knowing your strengths and weaknesses before you go in is key. Take the time to really dig deep and understand yourself before taking the next step.
This is important: WHY do you want to go to into education? Are you fulfilling a life-long dream, or simply following the expectations of your parents or friends? Are you hoping for a stable career and an education degree is the next step down that path? Whatever your reasons, if you are doing it for yourself and the dreams you hold for your life, you are more likely to succeed.
You’ve heard, and probably dreaded, the question: what do you want to do with your life? If you know the answer and say, “I want to teach!” You still have things to consider. To determine where you want to teach, and where in your teaching career you hope to end up, you need to do more self-examination.
Let’s start with your interests. What types of things excite you? What types of subjects or areas appeal to you? Don’t feel restricted by the expectations of others—let your hopes and dreams soar when considering these ideas.
Now, let’s look at your abilities. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? What subjects are you excited about? Look at the courses you took in high school. What were your best subjects? Is there a pattern there? What kinds of extracurricular activities did you participate in while in high school? What kinds of things did you learn from part-time or summer jobs?
The next step is to examine what you valued in your teachers. Was it the individual time they took, or was it the way they brought a subject to life? You won’t teach in a vacuum–what about stability, security, status, pacing, working alone or with groups, or having a positive impact on other people? What about administration—are you interested in becoming a school administrator or counselor? What are your long-term goals?
Now, the reality check. You need to honestly evaluate your options. Do you really value your teachers, but don’t have a lot of patience? Does your subject area require an advanced degree, but you have no desire to go to graduate school? Do you have a strong interest in the arts, but your family is convinced you should teach science like your father? None of these things should stop you, necessarily, but it is still important to face these obstacles and be realistic about whether you can get around them.
Finally, based on all your research and self-assessment, you should now have a better idea of the where you want to end up, and what you want to be teaching, and how much education you’ll need to do it.
This question is just as important but much more practical. Do you want to stay close to home, or are you eager to explore other places? Does your subject specialty have a preferred college or university, or can you attend anywhere? Do you want a place where you can live on campus, or would you rather live off-site?
The first step, of course, is to find out the best college for your area. Then you can check out the best local options as well as visit other locations. What college offers the courses you want at the times you want them? When visiting a college, be sure to check out the surrounding neighborhoods and the services they offer. After all, if you are going to spend a lot of time in that area, you will need more than just what the college offers—after all, you’ll need to eat and shop!
Secondly, you should spend some time researching how the college assists its graduates. Does it have a strong career center? How about their job placement office? Once you’ve graduated you’ll need some assistance taking that next step. Check out how your college will help you.
Once you have all this information, you will know which college is the best place for you.
Ah, how may seem like the biggest question. How will I get in? How will I pay for college? How will I manage to work while going to school?
Luckily, in this day and age there are as many diverse options for earning your degree as there are students. You can go to school part-time and keep that good job. You can go to school online, part-time, full-time, or for just some of your courses.
Financial aid is readily available to anyone who needs it, making a college degree a reality for everyone. The admissions counselors at the college you choose can help you navigate the paperwork required and provide guidance on both financial aid and your course load.
To earn that college degree, all it takes is you making the commitment and taking that first step. Good luck, and good learning!