Students are driven toward academic majors for a variety of reasons. For some, following in family footsteps leads them down particular paths, while others are simply passionate about their chosen field. Still others are altruistic in their pursuits, striving toward careers that help less fortunate people succeed in life. And since it’s all about getting hired following school, some savvy students choose majors with the highest placement rates for graduates.
Today, education majors enjoy the best of several worlds: the chance to shape the future by teaching kids, while entering a vocation in great need of qualified staffers.
Teachers in Short Supply
Certain parts of the country are currently experiencing shortages of qualified teachers. In some cases, recruiting personnel is challenging because schools are located in rural areas considered less desirable by young graduates. Other schools short on staff are located in inner-city districts where poverty and other social issues reach into the classroom. Education majors willing to embrace these challenges enjoy access to special financial aid for school.
Entering educational programs that lead to teaching degrees makes sense for those students seeking to enter the workforce quickly, but there are also advanced credentials and certifications available for those wishing to go on to the Masters or Doctoral levels. Job prospects for administrators and advanced degree holders are also widespread, bolstering flexibility for education majors.
In addition to general hiring trends seeking more qualified teachers, certain academic subjects are suffering at critical levels, furnishing widespread employment opportunities in these areas. For example, STEM majors, found in science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs, are in particularly high demand at schools, because these areas of study provide highly in-demand skill sets and lead to countless promising careers.
Windfalls for Teaching Majors
In order to increase enrollment in education and stimulate higher numbers of qualified graduates, government agencies and other benefactors are offering financial aid measures specifically targeting students who want to become teachers.
For example, Teacher Loan Forgiveness, offered by the U.S. government, rewards teachers with valuable financial aid. To qualify, applicants have at least one outstanding student loan needing repayment. Under the terms of the program, teachers completing five consecutive years of service at designated primary and secondary schools have their outstanding student debt forgiven.
Tuition-for-service programs, like the TEACH Grant offered by the U.S. Department of Education, furnish generous tuition incentives for students willing to trade service following graduation. To take advantage of the grants, valued at up to $4,000 each, students commit to teaching at troubled schools or in high-need curricular areas following graduation. Students successfully completing two years of teaching service have no further commitments under the program, but those failing to meet their teaching obligations are required to repay TEACH funds as student loans, with interest.
States also support education with special incentives for teachers and education majors. A unique program in California, for instance, extends low-interest mortgages and loans to qualified teachers and school administrators for the purpose of buying homes. The program rewards staffers working in schools falling in the bottom half of the State’s performance index, requiring them to teach for at least three years, in order to participate in the program.