Despite the high turn-over rate, the The New York Times reports that being hired by Teach for America is more competitive than ever. A record 46,359 applicants bid for only 4,500 positions nationwide, a 32 percent increase since 2009. Eighteen percent of the graduating class of Harvard applied for the program.
Will Cullen, who was accepted to Teach for America after graduating from Villanova, reported that a friend who was not hired instead will be a Fullbright scholar. Some students are not even trying to apply for the year following graduation, but instead try to gain related experience to boost their resumes.
Teach for America is particularly attractive in the difficult economic climate, promising a teacher’s starting salary according to the school district and two-years of job security. For Mr. Cullen, who will be working at a Dallas middle school, that’s a yearly $45,000–as much as an initial salary for a major PR firm.
The application process is lengthy, including an online application, a phone interview, a presentation of a lesson plan, a personal interview, a written test, and a monitored group discussion with several other applicants. Many students cite a desire to give back to their communities and close the achievement gap as reasons that motivated them to apply. “I feel very fortunate,” said Julianne Carlson, who will be teaching the first grade in San Antonio. “I knew a lot of people at Yale who didn’t have a job or plan when they graduated.”