As an eighteen-year-old kid just starting out college, I had it all figured out. I was going to major in pre-optometry, and attend optometry school afterward. I wanted to be an eye doctor. I’ve always known that I want to help people in some way, shape, or form, but I figured I might as well be a type of doctor that doesn’t have to deal with the blood, needles, and guts you get while working in the nursing or emergency routes.
However, my freshman year, like many young students just entering college, I had a rude awakening on managing my now VERY open schedule. Juggling class, homework, college soccer, and a social life proved to be too much for my poor 18-year-old mind to handle. If you made a pie chart of how I handled my time during that first year of college, most of the pie chart would be taken up by me doing what I wanted to do, and a pizza-slice size would be class and soccer, and a tiny sliver the width of mechanical pencil lead would be homework and studying. I treated college schoolwork and tests exactly like I treated high school schoolwork/tests – I crammed for each exam an hour beforehand. It worked in high school, so why was I failing in college?
Two semesters, and a 2.0 GPA later, optometry school looked like a distant, unobtainable dream. Nonetheless, I decided to get serious and claw my way out of the gaping hole I had dug for myself. Over the summer, I shadowed my optometrist. Dressed in professional attire and an excited smile, I was ready to see what my future could look like as an optometrist.
…. Until my optometrist began showing me pictures of diseased eyes….
My blood ran cold, I broke out into a sweat, and my vision went black. I freakin’ fainted in the middle of his office. A short moment later, I woke to a concerned yet amused Dr. Plank and humiliation consumed me. As if that weren’t bad enough, Dr. Plank chuckled and said, “Honey, maybe this isn’t the field for you.” Even through my shame, I agreed with him. It didn’t look like the medical field was really my thing. I couldn’t even look at a picture of goopy eye, how could I help someone who came into my office with one, much less make it through optometry school?
Then came Career Choice Change #1.
I transferred to a smaller university closer to home for a bigger scholarship the following school year… and I switched majors. I found Speech Pathology on my new school’s list of majors, did my research and thought… YES! This is what I’m supposed to do!
A Speech Pathologist treats both children and adults for various language and speech disorders. From correcting lisps to teaching those who’ve had a traumatic brain injury how to swallow their own food again, I could choose from an array of ways I could help people. I could work in a school system, a hospital, a nursing home, or even open my own private practice. I dove into my new major head first and loved it. The subject was fascinating to me, and my GPA slowly started to rise… but apparently not fast enough. Even being a fairly decent student, making mostly A’s and B’s with a few C’s thrown in, I made it out of my senior year with a little over a 3.0. Low-and-behold, I didn’t make it into graduate school.
Now, I know what you’re thinking… “okay, so you didn’t get in your first try. Big whoop. Try again.” And you’re totally right. I should have. But being a young, dumb 22-year-old who never REALLY had to work for anything in her life, I was crushed. I took it as a sign from the universe that I just wasn’t good enough or smart enough to be a Speech Pathologist. To be fair to my younger, dumber self, I sent applications to about eight different graduate schools and was rejected by ALL of them. Eight rejections after never having any was a shock to my system and, apparently, I couldn’t deal.
Then came Career Choice Change #2.
My mom was looking on a university website for other graduate degrees I could pursue, as I was now adamant that I couldn’t be a Speech Pathologist. Quick back story: I had been coaching soccer for the last few years and loved that, too, but it didn’t really make enough to live off of without coaching like 7 teams. My mom found a master’s degree program in Intercollegiate Athletic Administration (IAA), and there was a lot I could do with it. I could work in the administration side of the athletic department of a college or I could even coach college soccer. Without thinking or doing research, I applied, and I got in. The work was boring and tedious and didn’t really excite me like Speech Pathology did. You would think that would serve as a sign, but, of course, it didn’t. I graduated with a Master of Education and a truck load of student debt.
By then, I had moved 1,600 miles across the country, gotten married, had a house and a dog. My life was in a whirlwind of change. And now I was starting a new career in admissions. Spoiler alert: I hated it. I spent nearly eight straight hours sitting at a desk, auditing student files, correcting and creating spreadsheets, and answering phone calls. I was required to go get the President’s dry cleaning, clean the front windows, water the plants, serve water for meetings. I understand that everyone has to pay their dues, but after two years and no promotion. I was over it. Sitting at a desk was wearing on me and my life and job seemed void of meaning. I applied for countless jobs at other universities, and barely even got a call back.
After seven months of fruitless job searching, frustrated tears, and enduring more of my life in this job, I started taking a different approach to this. I asked myself: Even if I got a job at another college, would that change anything? I would still be sitting at a desk, probably still answering phones and speaking to angry students or parents, and probably still unhappy. I thought about trying to get into graduate school for Speech Pathology again, but after doing some research, the list of prerequisites for a master’s degree in Speech Pathology had changed. It would take me at LEAST 2 years to even be able to APPLY for graduate school. That’s more money and more time than I was willing or able to spend.
I thought back to the jobs and subjects that truly interested me: Speech Pathology and coaching. Then I broke down exactly why I liked it: I like helping people, working with people, having the freedom to be moving around rather than confined to a desk, designing lesson plans and watching what I planned actually improve performance, and I like kids.
What job could I do that includes all of these things I like to do?
A lightbulb went on…
Then came Career Choice Change #3.
I immediately started looking into what I needed to do to become a teacher. With a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in two different types of education, I was a little shocked at the state of California’s requirements – even from somebody with my education and experience. I would either have to go back and get a second bachelor’s degree in elementary education (yet over half of my Speech Pathology classes were education classes), get a second master’s degree in elementary education or something similar, OR I could spend a year and half in a teacher’s prep program – in which case, why wouldn’t I just spend another 6 months getting a second master’s degree?
I started researching my options. As a military spouse who might move at any moment, my options were somewhat limited. Attending a brick-and-mortar school in California was probably not a smart idea, because if we had to move before I could finish the program, it would be a waste of a LOT of money. So I started looking at programs that were 100% online and would allow me to do student teaching in my state, wherever I was.
It was then that I found a program called Teach Now.
Yes, I know. I thought the same thing. There is no way that a program called “Teach Now” could be legit. It sounded like a scam waiting to happen. I researched this program for a month, reading blogs, watching YouTube videos, reading reviews, but, to be honest, there was not a whole lot of information out there. What I DID know is that this program only cost $6,000 (rather than $15,000 like the brick-and-mortar schools) and was a 9-month program (rather than a year and a half to two years in other programs). From what I heard, it was financially affordable, challenging, rigorous, convenient, and, most importantly, accredited.
This is how it works: the program is based out of Washington DC, and, by the end of the nine-month program, I would have my teaching credential in Washington DC, but I could perform my student teaching in California. I could also transfer my teaching credential to pretty much any state in the US (with some additional requirements in some states).
I decided to go for it. I am now 7 months into the program.
Now that you’re all caught up, I wanted to create this blog to discuss my experiences. I know there are probably a lot of people out there like me who are looking for a career change and have no idea what to do or how to do it. There are NOT a ton of resources out there that you can rely on, so I wanted to provide one more HONEST point of view for those who are looking for a path toward their true passion.
So here’s my journey from surviving to thriving, from Teach Now to teacher. My name is Taylor, and I am excited to have you along for the ride as I become a Taylor Made Teacher.