Interested in a Career in Education? Four Questions to Ask
This information can assist you in making the best decision possible to reach your goal: To start or continue a career in education. In the end, we hope you will choose the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee (USFSM) for your education, but even if you do not, we want you to be informed. It's better that way.
When the college talks about networking, do they mean people meeting
The internet is a great invention. And at USFSM, we use the internet for both online and in-person classes. But our networking doesn't stop there. Area teachers, principals, district superintendents, and hiring officers are in our classes, serve on our advisory boards, and interact with our students often so they get to know you. In the end, computers don't hire people--people do. In our programs, we want you to meet and get to know those people.
When they call their faculty members "Doctor," do they
mean experts in the field they teach?
Colleges of education have a lot of doctors. But you wouldn't want them treating your case of the sniffles. It's not their area of expertise. In the same way, look closely at (1) in which field they have their doctorates and (2) where they earned the Ph.D. or Ed.D. A doctorate in "higher education" means you know how to run a college. A doctorate in "Childhood Education" or "Elementary Education" means you know about the most effective ways of teaching children. Take a look at where the faculty got their doctorates, too, and compare those to the U.S. News and World Report Rankings of Best Education Schools. Having various high ranking schools among the faculty is a marker of high quality education. The faculty in USFSM College of Education (COE) graduated from, among others, Harvard University, Stanford University, Michigan State University, University of Connecticut, Florida State University, University of Colorado, Florida International University, University of South Carolina, SUNY Buffalo, Emory University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, University of Tennessee, University of South Florida and University of New Hampshire. Finally, look at the Carnegie Classification of the University. Research Universities (RU) such as USFSM COE have high standards for their faculty in achieving national recognition. Our faculty are evaluated after six years and if their work is not respected nationally, they are not retained. Talk about a high pressure probationary period!
When they talk about accreditation, do they mean National
Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)?
To say that a college or university is accredited means that their students can borrow money with federal backing to go to classes. But you want a career, so you need to know about the accreditation of their College of Education. Is it separately accredited by a national body for teacher education, such as the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)? NCATE accreditation means that the programs have been closely examined and found to be of such high quality that they are awarded the "gold standard." It's more than a trophy; it's a guarantee of quality. USFSM COE is NCATE accredited.
When you graduate, what happens?
It's not well known to new teachers, but it should be. Only 50% of teachers, according to national surveys, stay in the classroom longer than five years. With the average 4 year college tuition now over $28,000, that's an expensive gamble. What if you start your career and are not prepared? Being an educator is tough work, so this question deserves some closer examination.
- What are placement rates?
Once you graduate, how many students get an actual position? In tough economic times, there are no guarantees, of course, but a recent survey of our MAT students found that all of them were teaching. And all our graduates have a career services office standing by to assist them in their search.
- What are retention rates?
This one may be most important, yet is rarely discussed. Based on analysis of recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics, almost a third of America's teachers leave the field sometime during their first three years of teaching, and almost half leave after five years. In many low-income communities and rural areas, the rates of attrition are even higher. The rate for those who enter through some "alternative" pathways can be as high as 60 percent. However, research shows that well-designed programs in research universities may reduce attrition even further, with 90% of graduates still being in the field after 5 years. In other words, the program you choose may well determine how well you are prepared to build a career--not just get a degree.
- Is my certification good in multiple states?
Be somewhat wary of "alternative" certification programs offered by many institutions that are designed to meet a state shortage. The courses may result in certification in that state, but what happens if you move to another state? Certification is a license to teach in a particular state. Though each state has its own requirements, all states recognize NCATE accreditation as a mark of excellence in teacher preparation. USFSM COE is NCATE accredited.
- Do I get support in my teaching as an alumnus?
Many institutions will support you while you are a student. But what if you run into a problem in the classroom after you graduate? Does your institution monitor your progress after you leave, or do they only ask for donations? At USFSM COE, we have systems in place to track your success. Even more, we use the data gathered from previous graduates about problems they encountered to ensure that we prepare you to meet the challenges before you face them.
We wish you every success in your work as an educator. We truly hope you are able to make that decision now in a way that will maximize your career success, and the success of your students. Educators touch lives, every day.