Helpful suggestions for writing your response to the application essay question, “Why do you seek to join Teach For America?”
January 7, 2019
When you apply to Teach For America, you’re asked to write two short responses. First, you are asked to answer the question, “Why do you seek to join Teach For America?” Then, you are asked to describe one of your greatest accomplishments in the last three years. For guidance on how to answer the second short response question, please visit Tips For Writing About Your Greatest Accomplishments.
How to frame the “Why do you seek to join Teach For America?” question
Allow the first application question to help you take a step back and consider your interest in serving as a corps member.
What drew you to the mission? What skill sets do you bring with you? What do you hope to gain and contribute when you join the corps?
Understanding why you want to join TFA allows our admissions team to identify 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 question, from start to finish. However, don’t let it hold you back from submitting your application—follow our pointers to develop your written response.
Tips to Guide Your Short Answer Response
1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK
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. You may also want to share why you are compelled to fight for educational equity through TFA.
2. HELP US GET TO KNOW YOUR “WHY”
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? What strengths will you leverage to create impact with your students? You don’t need teaching experience to apply to TFA or to answer these questions. This is an opportunity to show us your authentic self.
3. CREATE AN OUTLINE BEFORE DRAFTING
As the application says, your responses should be about 300 words each—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 responses with your key bullet points before you start drafting.
4. HAVE A PEER REVIEW YOUR WORK BEFORE SUBMITTING
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 responses a few times. Writing editing tools like Grammarly, ProWriterAid, and the Hemingway app can help you double-check your grammar and fix any typos.
Your personal background and the various experiences that have led you to apply bring us excitement and encouragement, time and time again. We’re eager to read more about why you want to lead a classroom, how you’ve created meaningful change in the past, 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.