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alternative certification program



My first few years I did not do too well in college. Failed classes, dropped classes, ect. I worked at a preschool but that didn't pay anything so I went back to college. So its taking me a lot longer to finish college than I expected. I thought college would only take me 4-5 years, but because of not doing so well it'll end up taking me around 7 years, and I feel like such a failure.

I want to hurry up and finish college as soon as possible because of my age(25) and I'm still living at home. I want to be on my own as soon as I can.

Right now I am going for my Bachelors in elementary education, which requires 3 semesters of methods and student teaching. All those semesters of methods and student teaching is what will make me graduate a lot later.

I found out I could graduate in 1 year with getting a Bachelors in Interdisciplinary Studies doing an alternative certification program. If I stick to elementary education it'll be 3 years until I graduate.

I would like to do the ACP program, but am afraid of graduating college with no classroom experience and worry about whether school districts would hire me. It would take longer for me to do the elementary education program, but with that I would be a certified teacher and have student teaching experience. But with ACP I could graduate sooner and start working sooner. So I'm not sure which is the best option.

If I stick to the elementary education program, will school districts care how many years it took me to graduate from college?

Chicago Teacher

Full Member
time vs. experience

I am not an administrator, but I would guess that they would care more about experience (student teaching, etc.), than the amount of time it takes you to graduate. Besides, there are lots of reasons it takes people longer than 4 years to graduate - illness, marriage, starting a family, finances, etc.


My opinion

From my experience, many schools are looking for education majors. However, many private schools don't care so much about certification as they do QUALIFICATION. I work in a private school, and there are some great teachers who are not education majors. I have noticed, though, that things that are easier for me (classroom management, lesson planning, etc.) are more difficult on them because they weren't taught it in college. Not having classroom experience before having your own room would, I think, make teaching more difficult, but that doesn't mean you couldn't do it.

You really need to do what is best for you, not what will be quicker. If you have the money and time to go to college and get an education degree, I think that's what you should do.


Senior Member
I was 44

so cut yourself some slack on your college! Failure would be giving up, NOT doing what you're doing! You WILL finish.
My opinion- the classroom experience and what you actually do and can show that you did (videos, actual plans, photos, etc) will be a lot more valuable!

Of course you want to be on your own, but how lucky that you are able to be with your parents so you CAN be in college.

Keep on plugging, you will finish!


RE: Alternative Certification

I am a first year teacher who is going through an alternative certification program. I have not started that training yet. What helped my get hired is I was a substitute teacher for a year and prior to that I worked in childcare. Also, my degree is in the subject matter that I teach.

I think first year teachers, regardless of whether they have an education degree or not, may have problems with classroom management. Although I am not perfect, I am getting better at what I do and I do not allow other people to discourage me. There are some feel that those of us who did not go through regular teacher training should not be teachers.

I would suggest that you read books like Harry Wong's First Days of School and books by Ron Clark, and other teachers. YOu may not learn everything from books, but the same has been said about teacher ed programs.

I chose alternative certification because my spouse is military and I transferred my credit hours to a college that would accept all of my credit hours. Yes, I did graduate quicker than I would have at any of the local colleges. And I achieved what I wanted to do (earn my degree and became a teacher.)


Senior Member
a thought

The only thing that would concern me about not having a degree in Elementary Education is the future. I would worry about how drastically requirements for teaching have changed and may continue to change. Since NO Child Left Behind (everyone's favorite slogan!) our state has really cracked down on making sure that classroom teachers are "highly qualified" to teach in the area that they are in. They also changed the requirements for the actual degree and it was retroactive. We were told we had to be Highly Qualified by 2006. There are lots of teachers that will retire this year because they are not "highly qualified" to teach. The changes made to the actual degree was increasing the number of hours you need in math, science, social science, and lit (notice the changes have nothing to do directly with your elementary degree classes). Most were lacking hours in math. I would just be concerned that in 10 years they may say you must have this certain degree and nothing else in order to teach 2nd grade. You are not highly qualified so good bye! Yikes. It is something to think about. I would also be concerned about being hired over someone with an actual degree. I am sure that in most cases administators would lean more toward the experienced individual. Either way good luck in your decision.


a lot depends on you


We have had a lot of student teachers in my building, both traditional four year ed majors and the alternative people who get a master's plus a teaching certificate. Our general conclusion is that we overwhelmingly prefer the traditional teachers. One of the big reasons is that many of the alternative people did not choose education because their hearts were in education, but that they reached a dead end in another area or never got a job in their major out of college. Many of them come to our school for student teaching and are always looking for the quickest, but not best way of doing things. The biggest problem though is that many are not child oriented. They are also much busyier and frazzled with the time crunch they are put under.

I myself did NOT come with an elementary education background, but from a specialist field, so I'm not inherently against anyone who doesn't go the traditional route. So, don't go jumping up and down about my comments. They are just my experience in the last 12 years.



Junior Member
I went (well, still am going) through an ACP in Texas. It was certainly a quicker route for me. I had toyed with the idea of going back to college for another bachelor's degree (I already have a bachelor's degree in journalism) but it wasn't financially sound for me. Besides that, I didn't want to be a 30+ year old undergraduate...again. I spent 3 semesters in the college of education at Texas A&M and decided that this wasn't the route for me. After that, I applied for the alternative certification program.

The program I'm going through in Texas is pretty comprehensive and high quality. You have to be willing to attend a lot of night and weekend classes and training. We took several graduate classes as well as individualized training sessions on things like classroom management, lesson plan making, assessment, etc. All of this takes place the whole year before you begin your teaching. So the arguments that those that have been through "traditional" college-based programs are more prepared really doesn't fly in my book. The ONLY way to learn to be a teacher is to BE one. Student teaching isn't the same, subbing isn't the same, nothing is the same as having your OWN class and having to learn everything from scratch.

I'll admit that I did have a hard time finding a job, but I believe it's only because of the area I was living in. I live in a college town where competition against fresh college of ed grads is fierce. The surrounding area is very rural with few school districts and even fewer positions. I ended up taking a position at a private school (it still counts for my program) and I couldn't be happier. I've learned so much in this first semester...none of which I would have picked up in a traditional college classroom.

a sub

it depends

Please don't feel like a failure! It sounds like you have matured and are ready to turn things around for yourself. Now you just have to work hard and make things happen.

As far as what you should do, everything depends on your situation and who makes the decisions. I agree with what one of the earlier posters who said you should do what's best for you.

I got a one-year certification, and it has been hard for me because of that. I have always wanted to be a teacher, but got my degree in the computer field, and worked with computers for years. When I went back to school to be a teacher, I went for the one-year program, because I already had my bachelor's. I did not have any subbing experience, or any professional experience with children, and that made it very hard during my student teaching time. Also, because there is no teacher shortage here, I have been working as a sub to gain experience and to become known to the administrators who make the hiring decisions.

If there is a shortage of teachers in your area, you would probably be able to find a job after doing the ACP program. If there are a lot of teachers, it will be harder for you.

You already have some experience with children, which should help you. Subbing would also help you to gain more experience and to show the administrators how good you are.

If you are in a tight job market, your college record will probably be important to administrators as well. You say you have failed and dropped classes in the past. If I were an administrator, I would be more interested in your current college record than what happened in the past. You should do your best to show that you have matured by working as hard as you possibly can to get good grades and maintain a decent course load.

I hope it works out well for you!


ACP/ teacher certification

Most the professors that I talk to at my college say to go through the teacher ed program where you graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education with teacher certification. I really like the teacher ed program, I just don't like having to do THREE semesters in the schools. It just takes so much longer. My education profesor I had this semester told our class that her daughter went through the ACP program and is now a 2nd grade teacher. But she was telling us that her daughter had a very hard time getting that job and she had a lot of night classes to attend and was just exhausted. It does sound like a lot of work to me, so I am leaning more toward going the traditional route with teacher certification. So if I go the traditional route I'll be 28 when I graduate as opposed to 26 if I did the ACP program. I guess 2 years doesn't make that big of a difference. And there are undergrads at my college who are 30 so I guess age doesn't make that big of a deal. I've known people that have taken 10+ years to graduate from college. My cousin did that. He started college at 18, changed his major many times and finally graduated college at 28 with a business degree.

My college is putting on two meetings in the spring for education majors and people wanting to do ACP. The first meeting they will have advisors talking about the teacher ed program and all that is involvd in the methods/student teaching, and the second meeting is for people wanting to do ACP. For that they will have advisors explaining the ACP requirements. I'll probably attend both, so I can really make a choice.

I do think the teacher certification route is good. I like that I would be certified. Only thing I don't like about the program are the schools that I will have to do methods/student teaching in. They are in very poor areas with mostly minority children. These are not schools I would ever choose to teach in, or that I would be looking for a job in. I've always lived and worked in very affluent areas, so I guess I'm just afraid of these poor schools.


Senior Member
getting through college

Prospective employers have to realize that many college students have to pay their way through college, and this means working while going to college. If you are working while going to college, it will take you longer to graduate. I would not worry about the time it took you to graduate. Also, keep in mind that many adults go back to school when they are in their 40's and 50's. I don't think you're ever to old to go to college or graduate.


Honest Opinion

If you want to secure a position in teaching and not get any flack from the experienced teachers who precede you, take the "long" route and do it "right." Bamateach took the words right off my keyboard! States are REALLY cracking down with No Child Left Behind and Highly Qualified Teacher Act. In New Hampshire, they wanted us, regardless of whether we are tenured, have 30+ years teaching experience, master's degrees, etc. take a TEST (Praxis II) to prove we belong in the classroom! We were OUTRAGED!! We went to college, we suffered through the intense teacher training, we "paid our dues." So ... if you want to avoid things like this in the future, the time is now to get your degree. You can do it!!

PS In NH we fought hard and we won - most of us do not have to take the Praxis II.

4 grade teach

I was once in your situation.Before I start babbling, what state do you live in? I just finished the alternate route program last year. Most of my teaching experience came from long term substituting. Basically what I'm trying to say is ....if you have a real desire to teach then go throught with ARP . People working in education that went through the traditional program is going to tell you to go that way because that's what they did. My principal went through with this same program and it didn't keep her from moving up the ladder as the "school boss!" If you have experience as a substitute, everything else you need to know will be taught to you during this alternate route program. I now hold the same certificate that you would get coming from an education degree.



In reply to your post, bamateach, this is a major concern for me. I have a seconday education degree but have all the classes to certify in my state and have been teaching elementary for the past 10 years. Now our state wants us "highly qualified" and since my degree isn't elementary, I don't qualify. I have been in the classroom for over 30 years but am not qualified. For the person thinking of going the alternate route to teaching, think hard about it. I have two recourses - our state has an in-house qualification which means I must prove I have training in reading, larts, social studies, science, math, and arts or I can take the Praxis test. That scares me! We also have until June to become highly qualified. Tenure won't matter if you don't make it. It really is something to think about!