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Before we begin today, I thought I’d share something interesting with you. You see, I was listening to NPR (!!) the other day, and they mentioned that Harvard had conducted a study and come up with a way to define hipsters. That is, “unjustified disapproval” for whatever your peers happen to like. For the record, I disagree with their conclusion.

Alright, back on topic. As I mentioned last week, Teach for America has become a popular post graduate program and consequently became extremely difficult to get into. Oh, another complication I forgot last week: even if you are accepted into the program, you have very little control over where you are sent. You are allowed to rank the available regions in order of your preference, but if your top picks are already full, well…I’m sure you can figure out what happens.

So, let’s say that you clear all of the preconditions and submit an application. What then? Well, next there is an interview process. Just so you know, it takes more than a day. The interview itself isn’t meant to directly encourage competition. If half of people in the group interview are qualified for the program, then all of those people have a good chance of progressing. As far as I know, there isn’t a strict upper limit of people they can advance per region. It isn’t meant to be, but it ultimately does become competitive when one of the last parts of the interview requires you to compose and direct a short lesson that will be conducted with your fellow interviewees filling the roles of students. Afterwards, you may be given a phone interview and be allowed to submit a final application. If I haven’t made this clear enough already, I’ll say it again: this is not something that you can do with half a heart. Don’t do this just because the economy’s in the toilet. Do it because you also want to help kids who never had the privileges that you enjoy.

Allow me to contradict myself for a moment. While it is true that there are many people who participate in TFA for reasons similar to what I have just stated, it is also true that there are many people who are there for their own advancement. The program has a wealth of connections and there are people who will take advantage of it. I would like to think that these people are in the minority, but there is no real way to know the intentions of others.

Let’s end the week with some thoughts from an S.O. of a TFA participant. I’ve been surprised at how everyone else I’ve met in the program has been surprised that I shipped out with my girlfriend to support her. I didn’t think that it was a big deal until I talked to a girl in my thesis seminar. Her boyfriend was also moving across the country for the program and when I asked about her own plans, the response was: “Hell no! He’s on his own.” I guess I’m trying to say that if you know someone who has signed up for TFA (intimately or not) please support them. The commitment they have taken on…okay, analogy time. Remember your days of primary and secondary school? (This may be easier for some than others.) Remember how insane everyone was? Take that and multiply it by a factor of 20. Also take into account the fact that these people are, quite literally, moving into a foreign land. A little support works wonders.

Photo courtesy of Tyler Blakley.