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The University of St. Thomas (UST) is Houston’s Catholic University, committed to the Catholic intellectual tradition and the dialogue between faith and reason. Our blog is dedicated to helping you explore your future career possibilities and how to make the most of your college experience.

Top College Features for Education Majors

You enjoy working with children and have a passion for seeing them succeed. It’s no surprise you’re interested in going to school to become an educator. But with so many different options, how do you know which are the best colleges for education majors?

To learn more about important traits to look for in your search for a quality education program, we talked with Dr. Ana-Lisa Gonzalez, interim dean and director of reading for the School of Education and Health Sciences at the University of St. Thomas (UST). Read on to discover six signs of a top-notch education program.

6 Qualities You’ll Find at the Best Colleges for Education Majors

There are many features in education programs that are worth considering. Some elements are more significant than others. So which ones should you be looking for? When seeking out the best colleges for education majors, keep an eye out for the following qualities.

1. Faculty who care about you

College can be challenging, but it’s easier when you know you have people in your corner. Finding an education program with experienced, student-centered faculty can make all the difference. You’ll thrive when you have the opportunity to learn from seasoned professionals who are passionate about empowering the next generation of educators.

At UST, approachable professors are the standard. “As faculty members, we are very hands-on and open-door with our students,” Dr. Gonzalez shares. “Whether it’s test prep or applying for jobs, they know they have their professors and cohort to lean on.”

2. Opportunities for field experience

One of the most important elements of an education major’s college career is deciding what you want to teach and acquiring practical field experience in that area. The best colleges for education majors understand this and build in opportunities for students to gain exposure to many possible areas of practice. Experiencing these different learning environments, in turn, helps you become a well-rounded, flexible educator.

“Here at UST, we’ll expose you to several different age groups and types of classrooms,” Dr. Gonzalez explains. In fact, the UST education program is especially unique in its cohort model, where you work alongside your peers in classrooms for three semesters and then spend one semester student teaching.

3. Exposure to many types of classrooms

Not quite sure what kind of teacher you want to be? That’s okay! The best colleges for education majors will allow you to explore your options. Gaining exposure and learning how to handle many different scenarios before you ever hit the “real world” is invaluable for prospective teachers.

You want to be prepared for teaching in any situation, which is something a quality education program will help with. “We make sure students get field experience in a variety of settings, whether that’s public, private, charter, wealthy schools, under-resourced schools, etc.,” Dr. Gonzalez explains.

4. Opportunities to specialize in one area

Some educators choose to be generalists—they like to know and teach a little bit of everything. Others are specialists who develop deep knowledge in one area—such as early childhood education, middle school, science, art, etc. If you intend to specialize—or are undecided—make sure to choose an education program that provides opportunities to grow your expertise in your chosen field.

One important part of specialization is to find out what you don’t want to teach. Do you enjoy math? Not a fan of science? Prefer teenagers to pre-teens? Learning your likes and dislikes will help prepare you for certification in a specialty area. Through active experiences, UST students have plenty of opportunities to find out what they enjoy the most—as well as which subjects they may want to stay away from. This field experience begins early on in the program, so once you’ve determined an area you’d like to specialize in, you can focus on it and get the most out of your program.

5. A focus on students—not just tests

It’s true that passing certification exams is an essential step to becoming a teacher. And UST works hard to ensure our education majors are fully prepared to succeed on these tests. But the coursework and tests are just the beginning. It’s what comes after that’s the most important: landing a job that allows you to have an impact on students.

At UST, 99% of students have a job upon graduation – and they are prepared to hit the ground running from day one. The program curriculum is designed to equip teachers for the unique challenges facing the next generation of students.

“In our UST program, we’ll prep you for the test, but we’ll also prepare you for the 21st-century classroom, a diversity of students, and what you need to do to individualize instruction on their behalf,” Dr. Gonzalez explains. “We prepare you for success.”

At the end of the day, the tests you take aren’t as important as the lives you will change in your classroom. The UST education program will teach you ways to do just that by modeling best practices in campus classrooms so you can take them to yours.

6. Programs that prepare you for certification

Although becoming certified might not be top of mind for you when you’re just starting out, it will be vital by the time graduation and searching for a job comes around. If you can’t get certified because your school is not certification bearing, your options for jobs will probably be quite limited, depending on where you want to teach. For example, you may be able to teach at a private school, but you wouldn’t be eligible to teach in any public school in Texas without a teaching standard certification. 

Because of this, be sure to ask ahead of time whether the school you’re looking at can recommend you for certification. “You don’t want to be one of those students who goes to an online or for-profit university and gets a B.A. in education and then realizes their program is not certification bearing,” Dr. Gonzalez warns.

The cohort model at UST is specifically designed to prepare you for testing and certification after graduation. Focused on building a supportive learning environment and camaraderie among students, UST walks with you through all four semesters so that, by the end, you’ll have everything that’s required to become fully certified.

Find the best education program for you

Choosing to become a teacher may have been an easy decision for you, but choosing the school that will help you achieve that dream can be difficult. Now that you have a better understanding of what the best colleges for education majors offer, you’re ready to start evaluating schools.

If you’re interested in finding an education program that ticks all of the above boxes and more, look no further than the UST Bachelor of Arts in Education program.

Ready to take the next step?

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About UST

The University of St. Thomas (UST) is Houston’s Catholic University, committed to the religious, ethical and intellectual traditions of Catholic higher education. For more than 70 years, we’ve been graduating students like you into successful careers in medicine, education, business, public administration and more – throughout Houston and across the globe.

Learn more about what UST has to offer.

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