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Why I’m Not Wasting My Degree

I’ve been told multiple times now – in a variety of situations – that I’m currently wasting my degree in secondary education and English from Vanderbilt University. Let me explain why I’m not.

1. I have a job working in my field.

No matter what else you say, this indicates my success in using my degree. Duh.

2. My students need a teacher who has the degree.


Don’t get me started on TFA or other organizations that put people without formal training in education in the classroom. These kids especially need teachers who have years of training in education. An added bonus for them? I have that degree in English, too. That expertise is crucial in my situation.

3. My degree involved a LOT.


I didn’t just learn how to teach writing, use new media in the classroom, classroom management, and teaching grammar/spelling/vocabulary. I also studied adolescent psychology, young adult literature, and took an entire class on the issues affecting education (like school vouchers, No Child Left Behind, and programs like TFA). Furthermore, my English degree involved Chaucer, Shakespeare, American literature, Jewish literature, modern world literature, 6 different writing intensive courses, and more. I am very well versed in my subject area and how to teach it.

4. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s not worth it.


The first thing a lot of people say when they hear that I’m a 9th grade public high school teacher is, “Oh I couldn’t do that.” Most of those people go on to say that they admire that I can do it or that they’re glad someone can. Some of those people are those who tell me that I’m wasting my time/degree. But why do you say that? Because it’s a hard job? That makes no sense.

The moral of the story? Just because I’m not working at a fancy prep school or a nice school in the suburbs with lots of helicopter parents doesn’t mean that I’m wasting my degree.

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  • You go! Of course you are using it–I can't believe anyone would say otherwise!

  • I agree! Also- I don't believe any degree is a waste, whether you are working directly in the field or not because you can use the education in any field.

    http://www.jaimelovesstuff.com

  • eHa

    I am so jealous that you've got a job in your degree. That's what I want more than anything! My husband teacher 8th grade math at Lewiston Middle School in Maine. We went to a fancy liberal arts college and he could be making more money doing something else. I honestly think his job and yours are some of the most important in the world. You're teaching people the things they need to know to grow up and participate in society. If you're working in a public school in a low income area you're providing positive support to people whose parents may not be able to be there for them because of the struggles they faced in their own lives. I have to agree with you about TFA. My husband's first year of teaching was so hard because there's so much about teaching that you have to learn by doing. The TFA fellows may be smart kids but they don't have training and once they figure out how to teach they've moved on to something more profitable. I also think TFA undermines the teacher's unions because they're essentially temp workers.

    Anyway, keep up the good work! Kids need smart teachers who care about the subject and the work of teaching.

  • I hate when people make assumptions, or judgements about my career. I just had to deal with someone telling me "I looked too young" for my job. Talk about a rough week! I always think of the "you can never be over-educated or over-dressed" quote- because a degree, an education is never being wasted. Get it girl!

    http://www.drewsdclife.blogspot.com

  • Amen. So true. To each his own and who gets to judge anyone else and what they do with their education.

  • SO so true. I could rant about TFA for hours. I chose to go into a different field this year after a lot of prayer, thought, and contemplation but I have so much admiration and love for English teachers because of the training I did go through in the past few years. I'm sure your students appreciate having a teacher who is educated and passionate about her job!

  • My mom use to say just get your degree and no matter what it is in it will open doors for you. I so believe this, even though I have a business degree I have no desire working in corporate business field, but having our degree is something no one can ever take from us. You go girl!

  • I faced the same scrutiny when I went to college for an English degree. The first thing people asked me is, "Are you going to be a teacher?" Being a teacher is an honorable and hard profession but it wasn't for me. I was disappointed the people think that's the only thing English majors could do. I patiently explained to people that the world needs good writers. You never notice it until you see a typo in a book or an ad you can't understand. I was starting to doubt myself, too. But people in college also have to realize that professionals change career an average of 7 times in their lives (I can't remember where I read this from). Most of the time, they end up in career unrelated to their majors! Unless of course they went to med school or engineering school.

    http://refinedlately.com