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Education

The Path to Becoming a Teacher

Teachers play crucial roles in society, sharing their knowledge with students and training them to succeed as adults. Education is an ancient and noble profession that is among the most popular college majors.

The path to becoming a teacher begins in high school, or even earlier, when students begin thinking about the profession. This process continues through stages of preparation, education, and certification.

You may want to be a teacher because you have been inspired by instructors in your school. Perhaps there is an academic subject that you love, and would like to teach to others. You could have a gift for relating to children that makes you well suited for a life as an educator.

1. Preparation

If you are in middle school or high school, you may already be considering education as a career. This is when you begin exploring the possibilities, and determining whether you have the necessary skills. In addition to research, you need first-hand information from teachers you respect. Ask why they chose the profession, and which aspects they like and dislike.

Your grades are important, as they are major factors in getting college placements and financial aid. If your grade-point average is too low, it could be hard to find a college that will accept you. Exceptional marks, along with high scores on the ACT or SAT, could pay large dividends.

It is recommended that prospective teachers take a variety of liberal-arts classes in high school. Challenge yourself with difficult courses, and sign up for college-prep programs. During this time, decide whether you want to teach in elementary, secondary, or special education. The level you choose affects the classes you should take.

In determining which academic subject to teach, you might want to do some market research. Instructors in certain subjects are in greater demand than others, which influences job availability and salary. At last report, those most needed were math, biology, chemistry, and special-education instructors. Social studies, health, and physical-education teachers were in the least demand.

2. Post-Secondary Education

The educational requirements for teachers are similar, with some differences, in the United States and Canada. States and provinces, rather than national governments, determine rules and procedures. All jurisdictions in the two countries mandate bachelor’s degrees, which typically entail four years of full-time study.

Selecting a college or university involves a number of factors, like tuition rates, academic requirements, degree programs, school size, and location. Do not immediately rule out a college that appears to be too expensive. Explore all the possible types of financial aid. The United States has a Federal Teachers Loan Forgiveness Program for students who agree to teach certain subjects or work in low-income areas. Some states also offer incentives to attact more people to the profession.

Education majors take an array of general-education classes, with an emphasis on the grade levels they anticipate teaching. While in school, they often work as student teachers to obtain on-the-job training. U.S. students seek undergraduate degrees in the subjects (like math, science, or English) that they plan to teach. They also must complete pedagogy coursework, which covers educational theories and practices.

An alternate route is to complete two years of college, then transfer to a four-year teacher-education degree program at a university. Online courses also are available. Some states impose additional stipulations regarding teacher-preparation classes. Receiving student-teacher training, as well as passing an exam in your subject area, are commonly mandated before you are allowed to apply for a teaching certificate.

Canadian undergraduates must obtain a specified number of credits, which varies by province, in education-related courses. A bachelor of secondary education degree takes another year or two of studies.

3. Certification

Nearly all public schools, and many private institutions, require their teachers to have professional certification. Procedures vary, but states usually administer the PRAXIS exam or a basic-skills test. A passing grade qualifies you for a teaching certificate in that state. Most states have incremental levels of certification. You could work for three to five years with preliminary, or provisional, credentials. Continuing education and experience are required to earn professional or permanent certificates.

In some places, this process is complicated. For instance, starting teachers in Michigan and some other states hold “initial” certificates that are good for one or two years, then can pass some exams to get six-year “provisional” credentials. These certificates must be renewed three times, involving more classes and exams. With further continuing education and professional development, an instructor may earn a “professional education” certificate. Veteran teachers can qualify for “advanced professional education” certification.

If you are certified in one state, you might be allowed to transfer the credentials to another state. However, such reciprocity agreements are not accepted in all jurisdictions. To become certified to teach in Canada, you need to show your qualifications to a provincial education department or College of Teachers. You also must past an exam.

Teaching children has many rewards, though the financial benefits are not as attractive as those of many other professional occupations. If you successfully navigate all the years of education, training, and certification, you can look forward to a gratifying career. As a teacher, you will find yourself in a position to positively influence young people, and help them achieve their own goals in life.

How to Recession Proof Your Career

The one overriding concern that has occupied the thoughts of professionals across the globe over the past few years has been the Damocles sword of possible redundancy. Whereas most of us– as individuals – feel somewhat powerless before the vagaries of the market, the right career choices (or at least career decisions based on the right logic) can go a long way in ensuring that we can as professionals make ourselves recession proof.

To understand the whole process in a logical flow we do a top down analysis of what it takes to be “recession proof”. These guidelines will be specifically useful for parents whose wards are in high school; and are on the verge of selecting a career and a college.

  1. Good times or bad, nothing lasts forever. Just as growth, periodic recessions are an integral part of any economy. Accepting this truth is the first step.
  2. Understand the psychology of organizations. Organizations incur a substantial cost in recruiting and training people, so retrenching human resource is usually a last resort. However during financially tough times when reducing overheads becomes a necessity, the hierarchy of redundancy is determined by the specific personnel’s cost to the organization (CTC) vis-à-vis their direct or indirect contribution to the “bottom-line”. So the best way to ensure continued relevancy in an organization is to stay ahead on the productivity curve.
  3. How to stay Productive? Being Passionate about what one does = Being good at what one does. In other words make sure you have chosen a career for the right reasons. The ranks of redundant workforce usually comprises of those professionals whose choice of a specific discipline was dictated by what – is/was “in demand”; or the “financial prospects” or the “glamour”; or “respectability etc – i.e. almost every possible reason other than the all important one – “whether they were passionate about their chosen career. A great rule to go by – when extraneous factors threaten to cloud your judgment about a choice of career – is that “It is always better to be the best in a mediocre field, than be mediocre in the best field”.
  4. Have a career NOT just a job. Your career defines who you are; it is your value addition to the organization you work for; and in a larger context your contribution to the society at large. The definition of a career is far broader and goes beyond just the “job” you hold, your designation in an organization; or the size of your pay-check – these are but some indicators of your degree of success in your chosen career.
  5. Make changes for the right reason: It is an accepted fact that your priorities in life and career will change, however it is imperative that you make a change for the right reasons, i.e. not just based on – “well meant and practical advice” from well wishers or “the frequent gold rushes” that grip the certain industry sectors from time to time.
  6. A good education goes a long way in “recession proofing ones career”.  Whereas most of the aforementioned aspects can be addressed and influenced entirely by your approach to career in general, making the right choices about your higher education provider is crucial, because – you cannot influence or change the quality of education an entity offers; but you do have the power to make the right choice at the onset. Remember it is a choice you will be “stuck with” possibly for the rest of your life.
  7. Understand what a good education entity is supposed to be: What constitutes a good educational entity is often misunderstood, and is solely based on infrastructural accompaniments (like laboratories and classrooms) that an entity possesses –these are aids to enhancing the quality of education provided. The most important factors that an education provider should be judged on is its emphasis and ability to create an environment that encourages or in fact demands -a genuine passion about the chosen discipline from students and faculties alike, a continuous exchange of ideas, a research oriented, knowledge seeking mindset among its students and a renowned faculty that is actively involved in research while pursuing active ties and collaboration with respective industry segments.

Though it is never too late to take stock of one’s career, ideally this is a continuous process and the sooner one starts at the  formative years of one’s career, during high school or right after it.

Studying Abroad - A survival guide

Studying abroad is a very rewarding and rich experience for students. It allows them to study at world-renowned universities while providing them the opportunity to experience a new culture and make new friends. However, studying abroad is not quite easy. It presents a number of unexpected problems that might prove to be overwhelming for those who are unprepared. Given below are a few tips that will help you make the most of your experience:

Study English

Language barrier is perhaps the biggest issue most international students will face. It is therefore important for you to start studying English even before you move to the new country. While you may be able to scrape through when it comes to general conversation, taking notes, writing lengthy essays and taking tests can prove to be quite tough. Join a class, watch English shows on TV, talk to English speakers and read as much as possible to improve your language.

Give yourself some time

Do not expect to fit in and adjust in a new environment immediately. Regardless of how well prepared you are, it always takes some time to truly adapt to your environment. Accept this fact and learn to be patient. Understand that time will take care of most things. As you spend more time in the new country, you will learn more about the social norms, culture, academic expectations and learning style.

Talk to a student counselor

Before moving to a new country it might be a good idea to talk to a student counselor to understand what you can expect academically in a new university. Student counselors can provide you information on class sizes, lectures, learning styles and can provide you tips on how to prepare yourself better for the challenge.

Get a fellow student to tutor you

If you are having a hard time understanding lectures, taking notes and keeping up with the work, it would be a good idea to ask a fellow student to tutor you. One-on-one study lessons will allow you to ask questions freely and will make it easier to grasp complex topics and concepts that you are unable to understand in a class setting.

Social life

Socializing is an excellent way to learn more about the culture and the customs of the country you are studying in. it is therefore important to get involved and meet new people. Students in most universities are friendly and welcoming. The campus life usually offers a number of activities where you can socialize with other students. Join a campus based organization or club that you might be interested in. Select an activity that you are interested in, sign up and show up for meetings. You will feel comfortable in a group setting in no time at all.

All international students tend to feel out of place and uncomfortable initially. They also struggle academically during the first few months. However, the tips given above will help you minimize the problems and help you fit in faster and more efficiently into your new environment.

4 Most Popular College Majors

College students consider a number of factors when choosing their majors. They assess their interests and skills, and match them to potential careers. Degree programs vary not only in the subject matter of the course work, but also in cost and the number of years required to graduate.

If the potential for earnings was the only consideration, everyone would major in engineering. There would probably be more medical students if the process did not require so much money and time. Equalizing all salaries would quickly solve the teacher shortage.

At last report, 42 percent of students chose one of 10 majors, according to the Business Insider. These degree programs concern business, health care, education, and a few other fields. Here is a look at the most popular college majors, and the top-ranked schools offering them.

1. Business

Eight percent of college students in the United States were majoring in business management and administration, when the Business Insider conducted its most recent survey. Degree programs in general business and accounting each attracted about 5 percent of students, placing them second and third on the list. Another business program, marketing and marketing research, ranked seventh with 3 percent of students.

Business majors take classes in subjects like accounting, marketing, finance, economics, statistics, budgeting and business planning, and employee management. The careers they seek require good math skills, as well as strong interpersonal communication.

According to Bloomberg Business Week, the best place in the United States to get a business degree is the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. Others in the top five, in order, are the Harvard Business School, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

2. Nursing

The fourth most-popular degree program is nursing, with about 4 percent of all students. Nursing requires a wide range of skills, from the technical to the personal. Nurses must deal with highly stressful, traumatic situations. They are trained to assess, diagnose, and treat injuries and illnesses, while working under the supervision of doctors.

In their freshman year in college, majors in this field take classes in the sciences and liberal arts. As sophomores, they begin clinical rotations to gain training and practical experience. Later, nurses may specialize in oncology, neurology, pediatrics, or obstetrics.

According to rankings compiled by U.S. News and World Report, three schools are tied for the distinction of having the best nursing program. They are St. Johns University in Baltimore, the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and the University of Washington in Seattle. Next on the list are the University of California at San Francisco and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

3. Psychology

Psychology degree programs also attract about 4 percent of students. Classes cover complex subjects related to the workings of the human brain. Students learn about intelligence, perceptions, emotions, personalities, and learning abilities. They diagnose and treat mental disorders, and help patients cope with emotional challenges.

Getting a degree in psychology is just the beginning of the educational requirements to work in this field. A graduate degree from a medical school, as well as training and certification, also are required.

The Social Psychology Network reported that Stanford University has the best undergraduate program, based on a Princeton University report. Others in the top five are Yale University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

4. Education

Elementary education majors make up about 4 percent of students, while about 3 percent pursue degrees in general education. While not among the higher-paying professions, teaching provides opportunities for other rewards. Inspiring children to learn can be highly gratifying.

Students majoring in education take mostly general-education courses, with some class work focusing on the grade levels they expect to teach. While in school,  education majors frequently serve as student teachers to gain training and experience.

Michigan State University has the top degree programs in education, according to Campus Explorer. It ranked Pennsylvania State University second, Ohio University third, Vanderbilt University fourth, and the University of Georgia fifth.

These are the most popular college majors, and some of the institutions renowned for their degree programs in those fields. Pursuing these studies can lead to rewarding careers in a variety of disciplines.

Considering choices other students make can be instructive. However, it isrecommended that students focus on their individual needs and interests. Making money is not the only objective. Finding something that you can imagine yourself doing, in a full-time career, should be the main goal.

Important facts every applicant should know about online degrees

Online degrees offer a very flexible alternative to on-campus classes for those who are working or are busy parents. However, there are several things you should know about online education before you can decide if it is suitable for you:

Some online degrees are better than others

There are certain study areas that are more suitable for online learning than others. For example, if you plan to get degrees that would normally require a lot of practical study instead of theory, you would be better off enrolling in a traditional college. However, degrees in business, nursing and education offered by online schools are quite popular because they are easier to accomplish through online classes.

Class requirements

Many students choose to enroll in an online program because they think that these programs are easier and not as demanding as traditional classes. However, this is incorrect. In fact, online classes are just as demanding, sometimes even more than the traditional classes. Online education requires a lot of time commitment as well as discipline. In order to be successful, students often have to spend up to 15 hours a week for a single course. A typical course often requires a student to devote up to 6 hours of study after class each day. Students have to set aside time for assignments, tests and for reading.

Education format

In online degrees, education format is quite different than traditional classrooms. Students need a computer and reliable internet connection. Work is typically done at home or any other quiet location where they can complete their papers, written assignments and read. They need to take several online tests and quizzes throughout the year. These assignments are then graded and feedback is posted online for students. Students communicate with their instructors through email and participate in discussions with students online.

Accreditation

A large number of online degrees today are accredited. In most cases, regional accreditation tends to be most recognized. Online degrees offered by accredited schools are also accepted by most employers. Employers today consider online degrees to be just as valuable as traditional degrees. Students that want to transfer their credits or want to apply in a regular university will have no problems with their online degrees.

Federal loans and scholarships

If the school is accredited, there will be no problem for students to use government sources like federal loans and scholarships to fund their tuition fees for online degrees, just like traditional students.

Enrollment age

Perhaps one of the best things about online colleges is that they generally do not have an age restriction for enrollment. Students of any age can earn an online degree. In fact, an increasing number of seniors today are taking various degrees online for subjects they always wanted to learn.

Although online degrees were looked down upon initially, today the general attitude of employers and students towards online education has changed. With the flexibility, range of choice and affordability that online schools offer, it is a good alternative to traditional education.

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