After a life-changing experience teaching in Spain for two years, I came home without having any academic title to back up my experience and I started to think about postgraduate degrees. Like most graduates, there comes a time when you consider the implications of a Master’s and the idea of a graduate degree seems to lead to a lot of questions, as it did for me.
Some of you may or may not have lived in Spain already, and some of you might be in Spain as we speak. As all of you weigh this decision to take on a postgraduate degree, you should consider the five factors that ultimately guided me to Instituto Franklin-UAH: Cost-Benefit, Networking, Academic Value, Intangibles, and Resumé Power.
These are the five reasons why you should choose the Instituto Franklin-UAH Teach & Learn in Spain Master program.
1.Cost, Value, and Return on Investment of an Instituto Franklin-UAH Master’s Goes Unparalleled
The Instituto Franklin-UAH Master’s Teach and Learn in Spain Program costs between 3,800 to 4,200 euros, which can be paid off in monthly installments while you do your teaching practicum and you’re given a living stipend to cover the basics. Simply put, you’re able to get paid a living stipend while you complete your courses. Based on my postgraduate experience doing the 25-hour teaching practicum in the ‘14-’15 school year, I was able to cover my rent, weekly groceries, monthly transport, and prepaid cell phone plan with that monthly stipend. Luckily, my charter school covered lunches which was an added bonus. Please keep in mind that everyone spends differently, and I did use some of my personal savings, but I’m happy to say that I came out debt free. Outside of living costs, the academic guidance and support goes unmatched.
For example, the Spanish visa paperwork process can be complicated and confusing, but the university staff will help you through it and they’ll give you the roadmap to get your visa. You save yourself a headache and the stress of trying to figure it out on your end alone.
After graduation, they keep their doors open and they’ll help you navigate the uncertainty of postgraduate life. If you’re not sure what you want or what to do postgrad, you can set up an appointment and sit down to get some feedback from a university staff member.
As a 2015 graduate of Teach and Learn in Spain Program, I can personally attest to the fact that I received recognition for my Master’s from my past employers. In each interview, the Master’s was explicitly mentioned and it allowed me to showcase my cultural knowledge and my educational experience that went beyond the classroom.
If you’re considering American programs, you should consider the financial implications of it. The increasing cost of American education makes postgraduate education seemingly out of financial reach, unless a company or organization is paying for it. According to bestschools.org, the average of an American Master’s per year is $40,000 in the United States. In addition to undergraduate debt, you might ask yourself why you would want to pay that much to get an advanced degree, and I certainly thought the same until I came across Instituto Franklin-UAH because you’re casting a wider professional net.
2. Widening Your Academic/Professional Network and Support
The network of alumni from Instituto Franklin-UAH is becoming stronger and stronger because all of us know what it’s like to come home after having done the Master’s abroad. All of us had questions about the next step. Some alumni have decided to stay abroad while others have explored professional and educational options in their respective countries. In any case, Instituto Franklin-UAH leaves their door open for you to come back, visit and they’ll help you navigate the open road in front of you once the program finishes.
After I graduated, I taught full-time in both Peru and the United States, and I came to the realization that I wanted to share my passion for study abroad with younger students but I didn’t know if I was ready to transition from international education. I reached out to Iulia, the Instituto Franklin-UAH student coordinator, and we set up an appointment to explore my career options moving forward. She and the Instituto Franklin-UAH staff make sure that you’re taken care of in and out of the classroom.
3. Academic Value — Holistic Learning (Connecting In and Out of the Classroom)
At Instituto Franklin-UAH, your immersion experience helps legitimize your linguistic and cultural knowledge that goes beyond a typical university experience. When you walk out of the practicum school or the university classroom, you feel the Spanish culture around you and you have the opportunity to gain more perspective through experiential learning.
The professors at the university get to know you and they push you to become the best possible student and teacher. As a collective group, their advanced degrees and vast knowledge of the content gives you the opportunity to connect and make your own inferences along with your classmates.
Dr. Manuel Martí, a well-respected educator and creator of widely published Spanish workbooks, stopped a five-hour grammar lesson to teach my classmates and me a life-long lesson that I’ll never forget. When he saw that our attention was starting to fade, he stopped the lesson and told us,
“This is important because you set the limits on your students, and if you don’t know the answer then you dictate how much a student can learn in your classroom”.
On Fridays afternoons, after a long week of teaching and doing online homework, professors like Manual kept us alive and on our toes. What makes them stand out is their contribution to the academic community beyond just the classroom. Across the group, many of them have published academic materials, published academic content, created textbooks, or even taught for the government’s official state-funded language school. Their deep knowledge goes across various disciplines and specialties that makes them a special group.
Based on my experiences, and others Master’s students, the Spanish co-teachers were supportive and they entrusted me to teach their classes in order to promote project-based learning and English conversation in the classroom. Some practicum schools allow you to teach elementary through high school which allows you to create lesson plans for various age groups. In your classes, you can design your own class plans in various content areas within the scope of the English language.
Depending on the school, you may get exposed to teaching other subjects than just standard English language classes, such Science, Art, History, etc., so may you get exposed to teaching different content areas with the students. At the beginning of the course, you’ll meet with the practicum school coordinator who will help find the right fit for classes so you can work with your strengths. Whether you teach primary or secondary, the students come motivated to learn and connect with you because ultimately you come not only as a native English speaker, but with a wealth of knowledge about American holidays, American events, pop culture, etc. that go beyond standard textbooks.
4. Weekends, Holidays, Winter Break, Spring Break, Summer Time…in Europe!
If you decide to stay in Europe during winter break or spring break, you’ll have more than a week to take advantage of extended travel opportunities. Some students stay after the program is done to travel during the summer before either going home or staying in Spain for the next school year. If you plan well in advance, you might be able to get some really good deals on cheap flights around Europe that can cost less than 100 euros round trip! A lot of major European destinations take less than three hours so you’ll have the ability to maximize your time abroad.
5. You Stand Out More & You’re More A Competitive Candidate
If you’ve studied abroad and you think that you’ve already shown international experience on your resume, you should consider what the real perception about study abroad is. Based on my personal experiences, I can say that a semester abroad doesn’t have the same resume power as a Master’s abroad does.
During interviews for both teaching and administrative positions, my interviewer never asked me about my study abroad experience, even before I did my Master’s. Keep in mind, I did two study abroad semesters listed on my resume and neither have been brought up during any interview process. It’s hard to say exactly why study abroad doesn’t seem to have the same resume power as a Master’s abroad, but the Master’s does legitimize your knowledge in a variety of content areas. No matter what Master’s you study, you’re learning it in an international, bilingual context in an academically enriching experience that allows you to gain work experience at the same time.
Before you want to jump right into the application, you should consider some factors that have caught some students off guard.
- You will need to get the masters accredited in the United States, which depends on your state and the process varies from state to state. Some notable program exclusions are the diploma, transcripts, etc. that will collectively cost hundreds of dollars, in total, and these papers require going to different offices and requesting them separately.
- The process itself can take months to get the diploma, and you might even need to take some additional courses to get a teaching certificate in your state, but you ultimately have to ask yourself if the convenience of a US Master’s is worth that 30,000 dollars in tuition alone. In addition to saving thousands and thousands of dollars, you have to understand your short term and long term goals. You don’t need to know exactly what you want from the moment you finish the program, but you should start forming some ideas about where you want to take your professional talents when the program ends.
My personal goal was to legitimize my level of Spanish and to strengthen my teaching background, which is exactly what I got when I received the Master’s from Instituto Franklin-UAH. Not only did I do that, I found a career that I love and I have the staff at Instituto Franklin-UAH to thank for encouraging me and talking to me about my future career goals and aspirations.