Winter semester of 2010 started out like any other semester for me. I had attended my first few weeks of classes, collected a number of syllabi from my various professors, and had taken a few class quizzes. Everything seemed to be going very smoothly–that is until I started talking to my fellow teaching majors as we were waiting for a class to start. “Have you applied for your teaching program yet?” someone asked. I was a little confused. I had just transferred to BYU from a school that simply had students register online for a specific major. I didn’t realize I had to actually apply and get approved in order to declare a teaching major!
After class I rushed home and checked my program’s application deadline. It was in three days! Suddenly my smooth transition into the new semester became a whirlwind of panic. Why had I not known about applying for my program?
I have since discovered that every secondary education program of study has “limited enrollment.” This means that a formal application and department acceptance is required before entering a specific teaching program. There are around twenty-four different secondary education teaching programs, each with their own emphasis such as math, science, art, history, theater and language arts.
In many cases, programs for specific teaching emphases are offered through a college other than the David O. McKay School of Education. For example, since I am a social science teaching major, my program is offered through the History Department, which is part of the College of Family, Home, and Social Science. My application to my program was reviewed by faculty from both colleges.
Because every secondary education teaching program is offered through a different college and department, the application processes differ. I had to apply for my major by writing a personal statement of interest, taking certain prerequisite classes, and filling out an application form. Other students need to provide letters of recommendation, a short recording of them teaching, or even interview with an admissions board. Some application forms and requirements can be found online, but many programs require the student to request information from a department advisor. Needless to say, this entire process can be very time consuming, and since many applications are due September 15, now would be the best time to contact your respective department, and inquire about their specific application process.
Finally, if you are required to provide a personal statement, make sure it is short and yet interesting. Two or three pages should be the perfect length. Make sure to share personal experiences, but do so carefully. You do not want to bore the admissions committee with superfluous stories from your personal life. Instead, briefly relate your experiences and explain how they have prepared you to teach teenagers in the public schools. Remember that this statement helps the committee get better acquainted with you, and to see if the major is a good fit.
Since all secondary teaching programs have different application requirements, I would love to hear from those secondary education majors who are already in a program of study. What did you have to do in order to apply for your major?