In response to an increased level of undergraduate demand, a new education program will give students the tools and insight they need to make the next step.
According to David Archer, program coordinator for the education minor, the minor was created last semester by Binghamton University’s Graduate School of Education and is aimed toward those who are interested in pursuing a career in the field.
“The minor was created to fill a need expressed by students. A number of students are wondering if a career in education is something they should pursue,” Archer wrote in an email. “The minor provides them the opportunity to explore various parts of the education profession. The education minor also provides students who have a general interest in the role of education in our society to gain more information.”
Tami Mann, senior staff assistant in the Graduate School of Education, observed that many students wanted to take EDUC 406 and were looking for more courses in education. There was a large request for the minor among students.
Although many pursue education with the hopes of becoming a teacher, the minor is meant to give an understanding of other career fields in education such as career counseling, school district building and building administration and education law.
“This minor is not exclusive to just the teacher; it is about all the education professions,” Mann said. “We have noticed that there are many students who are very interested and definitely want to learn more about teaching and becoming a teacher but then, just more holistically, all education professions.”
With only 16 required credits, the minor allows for a student to keep their focus on the necessary prerequisites in the subject they wish to pursue.
“Anyone who was interested in being a teacher would have a strong focus on the liberal arts and sciences, and they would take the appropriate coursework aligned for the type of teacher that they want to be,” Mann said. “In addition, experience with children is essential. This might range from needing to volunteer in the community to working with special needs kids; the prerequisites change according to the different type of teacher you wish to be.”
Rebecca Rosen, who is in the process of applying to graduate school to pursue a degree in education, said that she wouldn’t have taken advantage of the minor had it been available earlier, but instead would have minored in something she could apply in the classroom.
“Most initial teacher certification programs assume no background in education studies, so it’s definitely not something that’s expected or required,” Rosen, a senior double-majoring in English and history, wrote in an email. “It brings you no closer to certification.”
However, Rosen added that she still thought the minor would be a helpful addition to campus curriculum.
“I do think it’s beneficial for students who are deciding whether education is right for them,” Rosen wrote.
Fulfillment of the education minor does not mean one becomes a certified teacher; graduate school is still necessary for that title.
“The minor does not make students certified teachers. We do not want students to think that after graduating with the minor that they may go out and become a teacher. It is nothing like that,” Mann said. “The minor provides a way for students to learn more about the education professions overall, to best know how to take their next steps.”
Carly Rubenfeld, a senior majoring in psychology, recently applied to join the more-than-80 students already enrolled in the minor.
“I want to enroll in the education minor to have a better understanding of the field, to become better informed about the career paths available to me,” Rubenfeld said. “I am currently in EDUC 406, Teaching, Learning and Schooling, and have already taken two psychology classes for my major that count towards the minor, so I figured, why not?”
Anybody from any major may apply. There is no minimum GPA for enrollment, but there is an application process to make sure the candidate is in good academic standing.
At this time there is no plan to create an education major, for this process would involve recruiting more faculty and building new facilities. BU’s Graduate School of Education does have offerings, however, including education, educational theory and practice, educational studies and educational leadership.
Some students, like Rosen, don’t feel impaired by the fact that BU doesn’t have an education major.
“I feel prepared for grad school mostly through my outside teaching experience rather than the classroom,” Rosen wrote. “There are plenty of organizations here that would be great preparation: The Johnson City Mentor Program, the Boys and Girls Club, SUNY Kids, etc. I don’t think the lack of an undergraduate education department will be a real hindrance to anyone looking to go into education.”
Angela Franz, an intern in the Student Advisory group for the education minor and a senior majoring in mathematics, is looking forward to what the minor means for students.
“The minor is very exciting because it is the first opportunity undergrad students at Binghamton will have at receiving any sort of degree from the Graduate School of Education,” Franz said. “The minor was created last semester and already has about 90 students from all of the different schools. We sent out a survey to all Binghamton students … our main feedback was that the minor is not well-known, and we need to spread the word about this program. By gaining more members for the program, we will be able to show the need for more undergraduate education courses and programs at Binghamton.”
The original version of this article misstated the amount of credits required to fulfill the education minor. It is a 16-credit program, not 12.
Tami Mann’s position was also incorrect. She is the senior staff assistant in the graduate school of education, not for the education minor.