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Bachelor's degree: does one's major matter?

 
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Old Rasputin



Joined: 27 Jun 2012
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 7:23 pm    Post subject: Bachelor's degree: does one's major matter? Reply with quote

Hi, I'm planning on going back to school to finish a BA that I started some years ago with a view to pursuing a career in TEFL. I'm a thirty year old white male from the US. No wife, no kids and no debt (yet). I'm a guitarist by trade and have been teaching guitar professionally (one on one lessons) for 10 years now. I love to teach. I love language. And I want to travel/live abroad.

From reading this forum, I gather that anybody who wants to build a legitimate career in this field absolutely has to have a four year degree of some kind. What is less clear to me is whether it matters what that degree is in. Does it significantly affect one's employability to have a degree in say music, engineering, classics? Do you just need /a/ degree, or is it advisable to have an English degree, or perhaps one in linguistics or something?

My hope is to teach in Russia, so perhaps I should re-post this on the Russia/CIS forum as well, but I'm also open to Asia. I speak Russian so-so, and by the time I finish school I expect to be fluent-ish (definitions vary).

Oh, one more question: does anyone know if it makes a difference what country your BA/BS was earned in? Does it have to be an English speaking country? I only ask because a friend of mine in the Netherlands suggested that I try to go to university in Germany, which is apparently becoming more and more attractive and accessible to foreigners. I was skeptical.

Thanks in advance!

Cheers,
-Mike
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 10:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Asia, eh? Well, speaking for Japan, you don't need a specialized teaching-related degree. Your major can be microbiology, geology, political science, or basket weaving.

That'll get you in the door. If you want to move up, you'll likely need more than just experience. Depends on how long you want to be in the biz and what part of it (conversation school, university, international school, public school, business English, etc.) you want to pursue.
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santi84



Joined: 14 Mar 2008
Posts: 852
Location: under da sea

PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 10:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a degree in TESL (for adults). I have found (here in Canada at least) that it is more attractive to employers than a vanilla degree with certification. I don't think it's makes a significant difference, particularly overseas, but I will say that the BGS (it is a Bachelor of General Studies in TESL) and the background coursework has made it much easier for me to qualify for a variety of MA programs related to TESL.

So, if you are just doing this to get your foot in the door then it isn't a big deal to choose the major you enjoy (assuming you are looking at locations where degree + certificate is for visa requirements). If you want to continue on with teaching (ie. an MA) then I would recommend a related degree. On a more practical note, I did 45 upper level credits in TESL alone along with second languages, library science, and general education. I found these courses to be quite helpful when it came to teaching in a classroom. I still use the materials frequently and I graduated in 2008.
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Old Rasputin



Joined: 27 Jun 2012
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2012 1:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey, thanks a lot! I really appreciate the info. In my case it's mostly a question of, do I want my choice of major to be based on financial concerns (what university, how many credits will transfer, etc) or employability concerns. I was hoping that I could finish my degree with as little debt as possible. Although, the point about eligibility for different MA programs is significant; if I'm going to work in this field long term, I imagine I'll want to continue my education at some point. I'll have to research that a bit more. Thanks again!

Cheers,
-Mike
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coledavis



Joined: 21 Jun 2003
Posts: 1828

PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2012 9:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you were at the start of a degree, then I would say, go for interest first, as you've got years in which to bang your head if you hate it. However, if it is for a short time and you have a range of options, then go for the vocational angle. Russia can be a bit peculiar and the rules change, so I think the native speaking country for your degree may be the safest option.
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