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An Improving Economy Means Fewer Applicants to Orgs Like Teach For America

As reported by The Washington Post’s Max Ehrenfreund, the reasons why Teach For America is receiving fewer applications are manifold, though the main components appear to be the organization’s checkered reputation and the American economy’s recent rebound.

Teach For America (TFA) is experiencing a downturn in popularity among college seniors as the reinvigorated American economy promises bountiful opportunities moving forward, this according to an article today by The Washington Post’s Max Ehrenfreund.

TFA announced recently that applications are down in 2014-15 compared to years past. Ehrenfreund suggests that the reasons for this are manifold. TFA has a less-than-sterling reputation and is in no short supply of critics who disapprove of its methods. One survey found that bad press was a factor for about 70% of prospective applicants who eventually decided against. 

But just with pretty much any education or business trend heading toward regression, the main impetus is simple: it’s the economy.

“Interest in Teach for America increased rapidly during the financial crisis and the following recession, as many school districts were laying off staff en masse. Teach for America, with its two-year commitment, likely was an attractive option to prospective teachers unsure of whether it would be wise to invest their time and money in earning a conventional teaching credential, given the weak labor market.”

Ehrenfreund notes that there was less incentive during the financial crisis to enroll in an education school because graduates weren’t getting jobs. So if you were interested in becoming a teacher, but didn’t want to commit to a post-grad education sans guarantee of employment, TFA offered an opportunity to audit the profession with very little risk. Now that we’re pretty much out of the darkness, TFA’s data suggests that things are floating back to equilibrium. That means less demand for what TFA offers both to prospective teachers and, as Ehrenfreund astutely mentions, the students who simply couldn’t find a job and applied “because they [didn’t] know what else to do.”

Read more at The Washington Post.

Photo credit: Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock


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