By Kellen Bulger
Every year, Teach for America releases a comprehensive list of colleges and universities that are sending the most amount of graduates to work for the organization. In this year’s list, released last month, Willamette is tied for sixth against other “small schools,” which they define as having less than 2,900 undergraduates. Willamette sent out a total of seven graduates in 2017 to work for Teach for America.
Teach for America is a non-profit organization that recruits academically accomplished college graduates around the United States to serve as teachers. These recent graduates, teach for a minimum of two years in a public or public charter K-12 school in one of the 52 low income communities in which Teach for America serves.
Among the other small colleges and universities that are featured on the list are fellow west coast schools like Whitman College, Pomona College and Claremont McKenna College.
The writer who published this year’s list, Lauren Barber, described the benefits that alumni receive. “…your alumni will have a profound impact on their students and gain the context and conviction to lead a life of impact from any sector they choose.”
Teach for America (TFA) was founded in 1990 by Wendy Kopp after she proposed the idea in her graduating thesis at Princeton University. Now, a little over 25 years later, the nonprofit has had over 50,000 corps members while collectively reaching greater than five million students across the U.S.
While around 63 percent of TFA alumni stay working in the education field, recently it was found that more than 60 TFA alumni are holding elected office positions in the United States and over 550 alumni currently hold positions of leadership within the field of education.
Not only are the alumni of TFA working broadly throughout the public sector, but Forbes’ annual 30 under 30 list, which recognizes young figures throughout business and industry, included 10 TFA alumni.
Moving forward, one of the growing concerns amongst recent college graduates is the difficulty of finding a job. This is an issue that non-profit organizations like TFA are trying to remediate, as many of their past graduates are propelled into their career choice shortly after the completion of the program.
Colleges and universities in recent years have come under question about the effectiveness of their respective degree programs with recent studies showing over a quarter of companies responding that they now hire people with master’s degrees for jobs that used to go to candidates with bachelor’s degrees. However, many many applicants look to these postgraduate programs like Teach for America and see realistic bridges to desired fields for postgraduates in an increasingly daunting job environment.