Addressing GRE-phobia

I compiled the list below while researching grad school programs, specifically programs that offer a Peace Corps/Masters International track. Masters International is a program that lets you incorporate a stint in the Peace Corps overseas with a masters degree program. I’m specifically looking at English/teaching programs (although UNLV, of all places, offers a really cool-sounding creative writing MFA). For a long time, literally several years now–ever since I came home from China–I’ve been thinking about how I can get back to Asia, and in the long run travel the world indefinitely, without the aid of being independently wealthy. Teaching English is an obvious choice.

This occurs to a lot of people–images of the idiot Western meathead dood or the crunchy granola girl going abroad to teach English in total ignorance of what is involved and without any real concept of what the local culture is like outside of the tourist hotspots has become cliché, and with good reason. But I’m very serious about it, and I’ve been putting a lot of research and time into finding out all I can about it, and if it would be a viable option for me. In the end, I think I’ve decided to get a CELTA certification and try it for a year. If I dig it, then I’m going to get serious about it–if I hate it, well, I’m sure I can enjoy myself abroad in Asia somewhere for a year, even if it turns out that I don’t care for teaching. And I may be able to pursue other opportunities once I’m there.

I don’t want to pursue teaching, however, if I don’t like it–I don’t think teaching English should be a means to an end and nothing more, even though for many Westerners that is exactly what it is. I readily admit that it is for me, but I don’t want it to be the only thing–If I pursue this route I genuinely want to be a good teacher, and to be a good teacher, I’m going to have to enjoy it. I don’t believe it’s fair to the students, otherwise–not to mention some seriously bad karma.

Anyway, if it does turn out to be for me, I think I will want to pursue a masters degree of some sort eventually, as that seems to open up the door for better opportunities for teaching and working abroad than just a CELTA or some other type of TESL/TEFL certification. Especially as an American, if you want to work in Western Europe at a university, or in a business English program, an MA degree seems to be an important differentiator. The same can be said of some first-world Asian countries as well–many of the better jobs in a university setting require a masters degree. Not always, but generally speaking.

So I thought I would post this list I compiled for my own future reference, and for anyone else with similar interests. There are other graduate programs participating in the Peace Corp’s Masters International program; these are simply ones that offer some sort of MA in teaching/English or in the case of UNLV, creative writing. There are also a few others that involve teaching other subjects, such as science, but those require a bachelors in science field—these are programs that I qualify for with my bachelor of science in journalism degree. Yes, most schools offer a BA in journalism, but Ohio University offers a BS. Not sure there is a difference other than semantics, but a BS in journalism—how apropos.

I specifically compiled this list because I wanted to see which schools required the GRE, and among the ones that did, if anyone required a specific subject test. I was thinking that I might be able to get away without messing with the GRE if I go this route, but that doesn’t appear to be a reasonable option–not if I want to keep all the options for graduate programs on the table.

Funny–I would get on a plane tomorrow to go teach English in Sichuan province in China–how my mouth waters when I remember my time in Chengdu; damn the food there has to be among the best tasting in the world–but heaven forbid if I have to take the GRE. I’m not scared of it per se; just lazy. It’s been years since I took a standardized test. I’m vain enough to think that I could score 50 percent or better on the verbal section of the general test without any preparation, but I wouldn’t want to leave it up to chance … certainly not for something as important as this. Besides, 50 percent is lame; if I take it I want to kick its ass in no uncertain terms. Pwn it, even.

But I guess it’s something I wouldn’t have to worry about until I come back from my first year or two abroad teaching. And it may turn out that I don’t like teaching, or that I pursue other career avenues once I get overseas. More than one colleague has suggested I should use teaching as a means of getting to the Asian country of my choice, learn the language and then seek a post as a foreign correspondent in a Western news service’s local bureau. Or just freelance travel pieces, or both.

In any event, here’s that list (and I’m way to lazy to encode each link, so you’ll have to cut and paste, or just go to the Peace Corps Masters International page):

American University
Degrees Awarded: TESOL (MA)
www.american.edu/tesol/MIP.html
GRE: no

Appalachian State University
Degrees Awarded: Master of Arts (MA) (education)
www.graduate.appstate.edu/gradstudies/prospective/peacecorps.html
GRE: yes (500 on the GRE verbal)

California State University – Sacramento
Degrees Awarded: TESOL (MA)
www.csus.edu/engl/tesol_MI2.htm
GRE: no (but one year of college level foreign language study required)

Colorado State University
Degrees Awarded: Literature (MA), Rhetoric and Composition (MA), TESL (MFA)*, TESOL (MA), Teaching (MAT), Creative Writing (MFA)
wsprod.colostate.edu/cwis30/2007/international_ed/index.asp?url=pcmi
GRE: yes (above 500 on verbal,quantitative, and analytic sections)
*apparently this is the only degree available through the Peace Corps/Masters International program

Florida State University
Degrees Awarded*: Master of Science (MS), Education Masters (MEd)
www.fsu.edu/~elps/sides/pcmi.html
GRE: yes
*program combines Peace Corps service with graduate coursework in international development and the techniques and content of math, science or English/ESL education.

Georgia State University
Degrees Awarded: Applied Linguistics/TESOL (MA)
www2.gsu.edu/~wwwesl/alesl/peace_corps.html
GRE: yes

Humboldt State University
Degrees Awarded: TESL (MA)
www.humboldt.edu/~english/mip.html
GRE: no

Monterey Institute of International Studies
http://Degrees Awarded: TESOL (MA)
language.miis.edu/tdc/pcmi.html
GRE: recommended but not required

School For International Training
Degrees Awarded: Teaching (MA-teaching)
www.sit.edu/graduate/peacecorps/index.html
GRE: no

Texas Tech University
Degrees Awarded: Elementary Education (MA)*
http://www.depts.ttu.edu/gradschool/
GRE: yes
*MI students have the option of choosing from Elementary Education, Secondary Education, and Curriculum and Instruction.

University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Degrees Awarded: Creative Writing International Program (MFA)
english.unlv.edu/mfa_program_international_emphasis.html
GRE: yes (50 percent or more on verbal)