Becoming a teacher may at first seem like an expensive undertaking. Thankfully, there are a number of resources along the way to make it more feasible. Many schools, employers, non-profits, religious groups, private institutions, and other outlets offer scholarships to college students working toward a teaching degree or certificate. Scholarships and grants don’t have to be repaid, which why you should apply for as many as possible.
There are a variety of award types available. Some are based on qualifications such as gender, nationality, disability, geography, or other identifiers. Others, however, are merit-based or need-based. Scholarships and grants also vary in amount and frequency. It could be a one-time gift or renewed each year.
Be aware that some scholarships do come with obligations. For instance, an grant may require that recipients to work in an inner-city school or classroom for the learning-disabled for several years upon graduation. In those cases, be sure you fully understand and can fulfill the requirements; otherwise, the award may be converted to a loan that must be repaid.
For teachers already in the field looking to continue their education, there are also professional development grants , which differ from scholarships. A grant of this sort could provide support to take a graduate- level course or pay for you to attendance at a conference to further develop skills. Many of these grants come from associations dedicated to promoting specific subjects, such as science, math, language, or art, while others are more generalized.
Use the following resources to search for teaching scholarships and grants:
- Federal Student Aid: An Office of the U.S. Department of Education
This government website offers general information about finding and applying for scholarships. For those who have federal loans, it also explains how scholarships affect other forms of student aid.http://studentaid.ed.gov/types/grants-scholarships/finding-scholarships
- Career One Stop: Pathways to Career Success
Here you’ll find a compilation of more than 7,000 scholarships, loans, and other financial aid opportunities.http://www.careerinfonet.org/scholarshipsearch/ScholarshipCategory.asp?searchtype=category&nodeid=22
- Teachers Count: Learn a thing Thing or Two
For a comprehensive collection of scholarships and aid programs, explore the wealth of resources made available by this non-profit organization.http://www.teacherscount.org/wannateach/scholarships.shtml
- International Scholarship
This blog breaks scholarship opportunities into specific groups, including by region, minority, subject, and many others.http://scholarization.blogspot.com/2009/10/101-scholarships-just-for-teachers.html
- Teaching Tips
Here you can browse a list of 101 scholarships just for teachers, and, again, many are divided by qualifications to make it easier.http://www.teachingtips.com/blog/2008/07/01/101-scholarships-just-for-teachers/
- American Federation of Teachers
This guide explains how to become a teacher, including finding financial aid opportunities.http://www.aft.org/pdfs/tools4teachers/becomingateacher0608.pdf
- Financial Aid Offices
Contact the financial aid office at the college you plan to attend. They often have comprehensive lists of scholarships, including those that are school-specific or just for locals. The officers there can also walk you through the application process. If you’re a high school senior applying to college also talk to your school guidance counselor.
- State Grant Agencies
There are many state funded or geographic-specific grants available. Most states have a commission on higher education that administers these awards. Visit the below site for a list of every state’s education’s offices.http://wdcrobcolp01.ed.gov/Programs/EROD/org_list.cfm?category_cd=SGT
- Your Employer or Your Parent’s Employer
Many companies offer scholarships for employees or the children of employees, so be sure to check with the human resource’s department.
Below is a pdf link to personal statements and application essays representing strong efforts by students applying for both undergraduate and graduate opportunities. These ten essays have one thing in common: They were all written by students under the constraint of the essay being 1-2 pages due to the target program’s explicit instructions. In such circumstances, writers must attend carefully to the essay prompt (sometimes as simple as “Write a one-page summary of your reasons for wanting to pursue graduate study”) and recognize that evaluators tend to judge these essays on the same fundamental principles, as follows:
- First, you are typically expected to provide a window into your personal motivations, offer a summary of your field, your research, or your background, set some long-term goals, and note specific interest in the program to which you are applying.
- Second, you are expected to provide some personal detail and to communicate effectively and efficiently. Failure to do so can greatly limit your chances of acceptance.
Good writers accomplish these tasks by immediately establishing each paragraph’s topic and maintaining paragraph unity, by using concrete, personal examples to demonstrate their points, and by not prolonging the ending of the essay needlessly. Also, good writers study the target opportunity as carefully as they can, seeking to become an “insider,” perhaps even communicating with a professor they would like to work with at the target program, and tailoring the material accordingly so that evaluators can gauge the sincerity of their interest
Overview of Short Essay Samples
Geological Sciences Samples
In the pdf link below, the first two one-page statements written by students in the geological sciences are interesting to compare to each other. Despite their different areas of research specialization within the same field, both writers demonstrate a good deal of scientific fluency and kinship with their target programs.
Geography Student Sample
The short essay by a geography student applying to an internship program opens with the writer admitting that she previously had a limited view of geography, then describing how a course changed her way of thinking so that she came to understand geography as a “balance of physical, social, and cultural studies.” Despite her limited experience, she shows that she has aspirations of joining the Peace Corps or obtaining a law degree, and her final paragraph links her interests directly to the internship program to which she is applying.
Materials Sciences Student Sample
For the sample from materials sciences, directed at an internal fellowship, the one-page essay has an especially difficult task: The writer must persuade those who already know him (and thus know both his strengths and limitations) that he is worthy of internal funds to help him continue his graduate education. He attempts this by first citing the specific goal of his research group, followed by a brief summary of the literature related to this topic, then ending with a summary of his own research and lab experience.
Teach for America Student Sample
The student applying for the Teach for America program, which recruits recent college graduates to teach for two years in underprivileged urban and rural public schools, knows that she must convince readers of her suitability to such a demanding commitment, and she has just two short essays with which to do so. She successfully achieves this through examples related to service mission work that she completed in Ecuador before entering college.
Neuroscience Student Sample
The sample essay by a neuroscience student opens with narrative technique, telling an affecting story about working in a lab at the University of Pittsburgh. Thus we are introduced to one of the motivating forces behind her interest in neuroscience. Later paragraphs cite three undergraduate research experiences and her interest in the linked sciences of disease: immunology, biochemistry, genetics, and pathology.
Medieval Literature Student Sample
This sample essay immerses us in detail about medieval literature throughout, eventually citing several Irish medieval manuscripts. With these examples and others, we are convinced that this student truly does see medieval literature as a “passion,” as she claims in her first sentence. Later, the writer repeatedly cites two professors and “mentors” whom she has already met, noting how they have shaped her highly specific academic goals, and tying her almost headlong approach directly to the National University of Ireland at Maynooth, where she will have flexibility in designing her own program.
Beinecke Scholarship Student Sample
The Beinecke Scholarship essay is written by a junior faced with stiff competition from a program that awards $34,000 towards senior year and graduate school. This student takes an interesting theme-based approach and projects forward toward graduate school with confidence. This writer’s sense of self-definition is particularly strong, and her personal story compelling. Having witnessed repeated instances of injustice in her own life, the writer describes in her final paragraphs how these experiences have led to her proposed senior thesis research and her goal of becoming a policy analyst for the government’s Department of Education.
Online Education Student Sample
Written during a height of US involvement in Iraq, this essay manages the intriguing challenge of how a member of the military can make an effective case for on-line graduate study. The obvious need here, especially for an Air Force pilot of seven years, is to keep the focus on academic interests rather than, say, battle successes and the number of missions flown. An additional challenge is to use military experience and vocabulary in a way that is not obscure nor off-putting to academic selection committee members. To address these challenges, this writer intertwines his literacy in matters both military and academic, keeping focus on applications of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), his chosen field of graduate study.
Engineer Applying to a Master’s Program Sample
This example shows that even for an engineer with years of experience in the field, the fundamentals of personal essay writing remain the same. This statement opens with the engineer describing a formative experience—visiting a meat packaging plant as a teenager—that influenced the writer to work in the health and safety field. Now, as the writer prepares to advance his education while remaining a full-time safety engineer, he proves that he is capable by detailing examples that show his record of personal and professional success. Especially noteworthy is his partnering with a government agency to help protect workers from dust exposures, and he ties his extensive work experience directly to his goal of becoming a Certified Industrial Hygienist.
Click here to download a pdf of ten short essay samples.