No one knows where life’s roads lead, because the paths are different for everyone. Some paths, though, are less popular than others, but equally deserving of consideration. Here are four potential paths that one may want to consider as alternatives to grad school or the daily grind.

Teach For America

If you care about the state of teaching in America, and you want to do something to improve the education of children in under-staffed districts, Teach For America may be the program for you.

There are many reasons to look into the program. “I strongly believe Teach For America offers UR grads the unique opportunity to have immediate impact on the lives of children, while attaining the insight, network, skills and credibility necessary to be successful in whatever professional field they ultimately choose,” said Rebekah Hanousek-Monge, recruitment associate.

What exactly is this program, and how does it accomplish that goal? Teach For America is a program that places college graduates with undergraduate degrees into schools that are in desperate need of teachers.

It is a highly competetive program, and “something to be taken seriously,” said Hanousek-Monge.

“I wouldn’t recommend it unless you believe in the vision and this is something you want to do.”

While dedication to the principles is required, a life-long goal of teaching is not. One does not have to be an education major 8212; students of all disciplines are accepted, especially math, science and engineering students.

While the program is prospectively looking at 1,300 openings for its upcoming February 21 deadline, there is no cutoff. They will accept all of the qualified applicants they receive.

A qualified applicant is one with “leadership ability, critical thinking skills and a record of outstanding acheivement in past endeavors, whether in academics, extracurriculars or other work experience,” Hanousek-Monge explained.

Since diverse fields of study are encouraged, the hope is that once the corps members enter the program, they might reshift their goals to be a child advocate.

“As a teacher you will firsthand see the challenges your students face,” Hanousek-Monge said.

In order to apply, you must supply a resume covering academic and extracurricular involvement, a letter of intent, and an essay regarding your most significant accomplishment over the past four years.

The applications are examined for strong critical thinking skills. There is a minimum 2.5 GPA requirement to apply, but the average GPA accepted is 3.5.

Since 1990 more than 7,000 individuals have joined Teach For America. Overall, 60% have continued on in education as teachers, principals or administration, or starting their own schools.

Of the other 40 percent, 70 percent reported that their job and what they do is related to education.

In fact, during and after your two years as an active member of the corps, there exists a network of alumni who are willing and able to assist you.

Each corps member recieves a full time teacher’s salary which currently ranges from $22,000 to $40,347, depending on the region.

Members are paid by the school district, and receive the same compensation and health benefits.

Because the corps members are not certfied teachers, temporary certification is gained through the “emergency status.” In order to attain this, you must actively work towards your certification.

It is important to be aware that the deadline is soon approahcing. The application must be postmarked by the 21st in order to be considered. You can apply online at www.teachforamerica.org.

There are a lot of incentives in addition to the full salary and benefits. There is a $9,450 education award granted at the end of your two-year stint, which can be used to pay back student loans or towards future education costs.

Also, during your two years of service there is a student loan forbearance, “as a result of our relationship with Americorps and the Federal National Service network,” Hanousek-Monge said.

“Which means that corps members need not make any payments on qualified student loans during their two years with Teach For America,” she clarified.

Hanousek-Monge concluded that the “ultimate goal is to see that all children have equal chance in to attain quality education.

“We believe that during your two years you will have a big impact on the lives of children growing up and from that you use your leadership skills to help students fulfill their true potential.”

Peace Corps

Joining the Peace Corps is one of the most altruistic post-graduate options available. However, even if you are not completely selfless, the Peace Corps provides a number of great opportunities for the recently graduated college student.

The Peace Corps’ overall mission has not changed since its inception by Congress in 1961 8212; to “promote world peace and friendship.”

The Peace Corps has three primary goals 8212; to help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women, to help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served and to help promote a better understanding of other people on the part of Americans.

There are currently 7,000 Peace Corps volunteers serving in 70 countries around the world, but they are actively seeking out new qualified volunteers. How does one qualify?

The process includes several different stages, including application, references, interview, nomination, medical examination, criminal, placement, invitation and finally pre-departure orientation.

Volunteers must be citizens of the United States and meet certain academic requirements. Most assignments require four-year college degrees.

Applicants without a college degree may qualify by having three to five years of work experience in an area such as managing a business or working in a skilled trade.

When evaluating an applicant, the organization considers the “whole person including life experiences, community involvement, volunteer work, motivations and

All Peace Corps assignments last two years not including three three months of training in your country of service. Due to the fact that the Peace Corps is a volunteer organization, members are not paid a salary. However, at the conclusion of one’s service, volunteers receive a”readjustment allowance” of $225 for each month of service, with a full term of service resulting in $6,075.

Furthermore, the Peace Corps provides its volunteers with a stipend to cover the cost of living while in service.

Volunteers also receive extensive medical and dental coverage and 24 days of vacation per year. Finally, after a volunteer has completed his or her service and wishes to enter the workforce, the Peace Corps offers assistance through its Career Center.

So, if you’re interested in helping out others while gaining an unforgettable international experience, the Peace Corps may be the post-graduate option for you. Students can request an application by phone by dialing 1-800-424-8580 and selecting option 1.

One can also apply online at www.peacecorps.gov. This Web site also provides an abundance of information about the Peace Corps program, and answers questions as specific as what dietary options exist for vegetarian volunteers in foreign countries.

Military

We’ve all seen the commercials on television pleading for us to be all that we can be, or assuring us that Uncle Sam wants us.

As convincing as these advertisements are, the decision to enlist in the military should not be taken lightly. There are four major branches of the military: the Army, the Navy, the Marine Corps, and the Air Force.

Although laymen tend to group all of them together, they are each quite unique. However, they do possess many of the same requirements, which include being the age of 18, physical tests, and the administration of specific exams for each branch.

Though the commitme

nt is significant, enlisting does reap a number of benefits. If you choose to enlist while you’re in school, The Montgomery G.I. Bill allows for scholarships and money to be allocated for your future education.

If you are planning to enlist after you graduate, the military, especially the Marines, have an implemented graduate program, which only requires a degree from any accredited four-year college.

The military also provides for insurance benefits. Overall, the greatest incentives for joining are job training, job security, and the respect of your country.

One of the primary reasons most people choose not to join the military is the risk to life and health.

However, the military, especially the Air Force, is not simply a combat organization. The services are always looking for doctors, nurses, and other humanitarians to join them.

The military places a great deal of emphasis on education. Although you only have to have a high school diploma to enlist, the educational options available after you are released are endless. Many students at the University are involved in ROTC or NROTC.

The AFROTC program, which is based at RIT, offers many scholarships, but requires that participants enlist for a minimum of two years after graduating.

However, if you are not currently enrolled in this program, you can enlist whenever you wish.

Currently, the United States is experiencing a great deal of international volatility, and Uncle Sam is always looking for a few good men and women. For more information on the entire recruitment process, visit their websites on the American military homepage at http://www.TodaysMilitary.com/

Americorps

A domestic Peace Corps, Americorps is another alternative post-college plan. Members can be involved in Habitat for Humanity, Boys and Girls clubs or the Red Cross.

Similar to Teach For America, participants receive an educational award after their year of service.

Americorps is a way to give back to the community, while covering your basic living expenses and acquiring student loan breaks.

Health insurance is also provided, making Americorps a sensible post-college choice. Unlike Teach For America, the diverse wealth of possibilities allows almost anyone to be involved.

The different programs one can join are Americorps National Civilian Community Corps and Americorps Volunteer in Service to America.

In Americorps NCCC you live in a dorm with a team of other volunteers, and serve communities in one of five locations. Charleston, S.C., Washington D.C., Perry Point, Md., Denver, Colo. or San Diego, Calif. Activities range from home building to disaster relief.

In Americorps VISTA members work to fight illiteracy, build businesses, improve health and housing conditions, and fix the digital gap.

Unlike the travel-oriented NCCC, the VISTA is organized for members to remain in one community, long term. This allows for the member to develop a long standing relationship with the community in which they work.

More information can be found on the Americorps websites. Americorps has two websites, www.americorps.org, as well as https://recruit.cns.gov. One can apply online, through the mail from an online form, or completely through the mail by requesting an application at 1-800-942-2677.

Powell and Reyhani can be reached at lpowell@campustimes.org and mreyhani@campustimes.org



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