With tough economic conditions, an increasing number of college graduates are pursuing a community service résumé builder with some hands-on results to back it up. One particular favorite, especially among University of Michigan students, has been Teach for America.
TFA is a selective corps of college graduates from a variety of disciplines who spend two years working in the most needy schools across the nation. The goal is to eliminate the educational inequalities by putting new leaders into these environments.
On average, 6 percent of students graduate from college at the schools where TFA is present, according to founder Wendy Kopp.
Currently, TFA is ranked as one of the top 10 employers of recent college graduates and the only non-profit on that list.
The University of Michigan fed more graduates to Teach for America in 2009 than any other school with more than 10,000 undergraduates.
The 2009 TFA corps was composed of 4,100 graduates, 80 of which were University graduates, who were selected from more than 35,000 applications. The average grade point average was a 3.6.
One of the strongest benefits of the Corps is the experience, which few other options rival. Also, if students are unsure about graduate school, it gives them time to build their résumé while earning a salary.
The experience can be draining though. According to a Harvard research study, approximately 10 percent of members leave after their first year. However the rigorous application and interviewing process strives to find the strongest leaders who will not only take on but also succeed at the challenge set before them.
Corps members are hired by school districts and receive the same health care benefits and starting salaries as other teachers. Typical salaries range from $27,000-$47,000.