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Tips for Writing Your TFA Application “Short Answer Response”

Helpful suggestions for writing your response to the application essay question, “Why do you seek to join Teach For America?”

By The TFA Editorial Team

January 7, 2019

Tips for Writing Your TFA Application “Short Answer Response”

When you apply to Teach For America, you’re asked to write a short response to the question, “Why do you seek to join Teach For America?” This part of the application allows you to take a step back to consider your interest in serving as a corps member and what you hope to get from the experience. It also allows TFA’s admissions team to understand your motivations for serving as a classroom leader and joining our network.

On average, you can expect to spend about one to two hours on this application step, from start to finish. Don’t let it hold you back from submitting your application—follow our pointers to develop your written response.



Don’t rush to submit your application. As you complete your application, spend some time understanding TFA’s vision and how we aim to accomplish it. Doing this background reading will allow you to see the role you can have in our work.

Consider putting yourself into the position of a corps member and think about the classroom community you hope to create for students, or consider how serving as a corps member fits into your broader career goals.

From there, you should be able to clearly answer in a succinct statement why you want to join TFA. You should include your specific rationale toward the beginning of your written response, and it should remain as a theme throughout your entire essay.



This section of your application helps us learn about who you are beyond your resume. Why are you drawn to TFA? What experiences in your life make you want to teach? What dimensions of your personal story will you bring with you to the classroom? You don’t need teaching experience to apply to TFA or to answer this question. This is an opportunity to show us your authentic self.



As the application says, your response should be about 300 words—or about half a page, single spaced, if you’re typing in a Word document. This relatively short length requires you to be concise and intentional in your writing.

Rely on the lessons you’ve learned in your own college writing courses. You may find it helpful to outline your response with your key bullet points before you start drafting. Consider starting with an intro that includes a thesis statement, and then elaborating on the reasons you want to join the corps, by providing evidence and/or personal anecdotes.



As with any written response, it’s best to have a peer read your response to check for clarity.* If that’s not possible, make sure to read aloud your response a few times, double-checking your grammar and fixing any typos.

Your personal background and the various experiences that have led you to apply bring us excitement and encouragement, time and again. We’re eager to read more about why you want to lead a classroom and what you can bring to your students and their community.

Have questions? Explore our Frequently Asked Questions section.

*As a reminder, all aspects of your application must be your own individual work. Any response that is not completely your own work will automatically call your application into question per our falsification or misrepresentation policy and may result in immediate dismissal from the application process or corps.