TFA Sees Growth In Applicant Pool

Seventeen percent of Harvard’s Class of 2010 applied to Teach for America.

With 293 total applicants, Harvard saw the largest share of its senior class apply in TFA’s 19 year history, according to Anasstassia Baichorova, a TFA recruiter for Harvard and Brown.

Last year 14 percent of the senior class applied, and 55 members of the class of 2009 are currently working for TFA, according to Baichorova. Harvard graduates comprised the largest percentage of last year’s TFA hires, Baichorova said.

Baichorova said she could not say how many Harvard undergraduates had been accepted this year or how many would eventually join the corps because students still have two weeks to commit to offers.

TFA saw an increase in the number of applicants nationwide. The program received 46,359 applications for the 2010 corps, marking the third consecutive year of over 30 percent growth, according to Baichorova.

Accepted undergraduates suggested a variety of reasons for the three percent increase in applications. Some cited TFA’s aggressive recruiting effort on campus, while others pointed to the current state of the job market.

Allison J. La Fave ’10 said she had no intention of applying early this fall, but by the time October rolled around, TFA’s recruiting efforts had persuaded her to apply.

“Word of mouth has been very valuable,” she said. “I think the numbers will continue to increase.”

Like last year, Harvard had the highest percentage of students apply of any school in the nation, according to Baichorova.

This year Yale had 218 students apply—or 16 percent—and Brown had 13 percent apply, according to Baichorova.

On Wednesday, the Graduate School of Education hosted a reception for future participants and TFA alumni. University President Drew G. Faust and Bill Gates, who was visiting Harvard, spoke at the event.

Several students accepted into the program said they applied to TFA because they want to make a meaningful contribution to society.

After receiving financial aid from the College, La Fave said she wanted an opportunity to “pay it forward.”

“Somebody gave me an education at Harvard that I’d never expected,” she said.

Samir J. Paul ’10 said he was excited to see more students applying to TFA and saw it as an indication of this generation’s desire to volunteer.

“I take it as a great sign of optimism and a shift in direction towards an orientation of public service,” he said. “It wasn’t long ago that President Obama was talking about a poverty of ambition.”

Paul said teaching mathematics through TFA would give him a chance to help improve the American education system from within.

“I’m looking forward to being one cog in the overall movement,” he said.

—Eric P. Newcomer can be reached at