Posts Tagged ‘teach for america’


Congratulations to the JPL team for five years on Mars with Opportunity today.

Congratulations to the JPL team for five years on Mars with Opportunity today.

After finishing it all it may be wise to consider options if there are no acceptance letters waiting. 

Here is a list of ideas that I have gathered from what my friends (physics majors) are considering or what I have considered as an alternative:

Teach for America

I applied for Teach for America and got in, but when I received my first acceptance I weighed the options and my dedication to each one and withdrew my Teach for America application. I was excited to do it but I feel that graduate school is a better choice for me right now.

Teach Abroad (I wanted to do Japan)

I wanted to teach in Japan. Actual any excuse that would allow me to live in Japan for a year would have been awesome.

Travel for a year

Taking a year off to travel as a gap year seems like another viable option. It would be a definite breather before plunging into graduate school.

Get a non-academic job

I did not want to get an actual job, several of my friends (in physics) however want to make this thing called “money”. Some of the things I have heard being considered:

  • Engineering job
  • Weapons research
  • Nuclear Technician for the Navy
  • Pilot in the Air Force
  • Product testing for a Telecom company

The best thing to do for this is to go to a Science and Technology Career fair, especially since these jobs will be geared towards jobs in the local area. Unless of course you don’t want to stay in the area. For the jobs as engineers it depends on what type of background you have in physics, for me I have had a good course in Electronics and have also learned how to do accurate machining in a machine shop. I would probably apply to be an electrical engineer if was to choose. 

After any one of these there is always the option to re-apply to graduate school or defer acceptance to follow a particular dream (like living in Japan). Of course there are innumerable options out there.


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I wish the shadows were not on so much of the door.

I wish the shadows were not on so much of the door.

Looks like I made it past the first round of the Teach for America application. I also qualified enough or was picked to not have a phone interview. In a week or so I get to sign up for the day long interview which better be in Santa Barbara or I might drop the application and move on. I don’t think I would be able to travel to L.A. or elsewhere for the day just for an interview. It is not that I am not dedicated but I don’t think I would physically be able to do so.

However if it is anywhere in Santa Barbara I will be able to make it and go for the next stage. Before then I need to find two recommenders and a reference for the application. I am no stranger with asking for letters of recommendation but unlike graduate school applications these can be from academic, professional or extracurricular positions. 

I thought about asking my professors for the letters but I feel that they have not known me in a situation to evaluate me for a teaching type position. Instead I will ask people I have either worked for in a stable job or as a computer consultant. I am asking them since as a computer consultant I often need to teach or instruct my clients on how to use certain features, avoid particular problems or just familiarize them with a new OS. These are the qualities that I feel can best be expressed in a letter of recommendation.

Besides they are easier to bribe then professors.

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Nothing like being back in Santa Barbara

Nothing like being back in Santa Barbara

Today was my first full day back in Santa Barbara after the winter break. I have feeling that it will be a long quarter with three labs.

In a break of surprising productivity I managed to finish and submit the initial application for Teach for America today before my first class. Most of the application was fairly easy as they were standard questions, the only difficulty was in the personal statement part.

The first statement was a letter of intent asking why we wanted to join the corps. I had to think back to why I was applying, fortunately I remembered and finished that part up relatively easily (only 350 out of 500 words). The second statement was an essay about a project I worked on and obstacles during that project. This was more challenging to write.

The challenge came from both my lack of working on definite projects and also never really encountering insurmountable or interesting obstacles. I have had plenty of mundane obstacles yet nothing that was unique or applicable to Teach for America. So I wrote about my current project in my lab and problems faced so far.

To be honest it is probably not the best statement, it may be unique, though not the best. I will be surprised if I make it to the next stage however I did apply since I do not want to regret to do otherwise.

I just so tired of applications right now.

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Fireworks are needed for every holiday.

Fireworks are needed for every holiday.

Today I met with a Teach for America recruiter to talk about the program. After half an hour he convinced me to apply to the program. He argued that if it turns out that it will not work out for me then I will find out in the interview parts of the application so I should then fill out the initial application.

This worked for me but he sealed the deal when he said that there are no letters of recommendation required.

I know that at least one of the Universities I am applying to allow deferment of acceptance for Teach for America, it also happens to be the university I want to get into the most. So my ideal situation now is to get into both this university and Teach for America. 

I loved participating in the Chemistry Outreach program at UCSB as it had a direct effect in inspiring fifth graders to pursue science. I can imagine doing the same thing on a more in depth level, I personally never had an inspirational physics teacher prior to college. I mean I had a good teacher who taught us and made it fun, but if that was my only exposure to physics I would never have thought of majoring in physics.

Now I get another application to fill out between now and the end of the year, but no letters of recommendations for this one.

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Looking up Eiffel.

Looking up Eiffel.

As an alternative to graduate school I have been entertaining the idea of applying for Teach for America instead of or prior to graduate school. I know that at least one of the graduate school I am applying to (University of Washington) allows acceptance to be deferred for two years specifically for Teach for America. 

Since I have been unsure about whether I want to apply or not I signed up for more information from one of the many recruiters going from class to class asking if anyone is interested. Next week I am doing what I think is best for someone unsure about it, I am meeting with a recruiter. He is not actually called a recruiter but in essence that is what he is.

My major concern blocking me from applying is I do not know if I would actually be able to be an effective teacher. I am fairly decent at public speaking, I really do like teaching and I enjoy helping people with their physics and math homework. It is just that the people I am helping want to be in school and want to learn this (for the most part), I really don’t know if I could keep the interest or attention of a high school class.

Hopefully I have a good meeting that lets me decide if I want to apply or not. I mean another application cannot really kill me, right?

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