KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Despite a national trend toward declining enrollment in teacher preparation programs, Western Michigan University’s enrollment is up this year by about 9% in these majors, or 70 more future teachers who have chosen WMU to prepare them to enter the workforce over the last year. The largest increases are seen in early childhood education, special education, and physical and health education teacher preparation majors.
So why are students choosing WMU?
Teacher academy partnerships and credit opportunities. WMU has partnered with districts in Kalamazoo, Van Buren, Calhoun and Allegan Counties to help high school students explore the teaching profession. Students attend a one-day teacher academy conference at WMU where they receive professional development and engage with WMU faculty and students. Students are invited back to campus for tours and student panels. Through this partnership, WMU may grant college credit for state-approved teacher preparation courses taken at the high school level. Having a connection to the College of Education and Human Development increases the likelihood a student will decide to attend WMU.
A more personalized college tour. When students tour the WMU campus, those interested in the field of education are offered the opportunity to visit Sangren Hall and meet staff and faculty in the teacher preparation programs. The personal connection made to our highly-ranked faculty and state-of-the-art education building gives WMU a leg up over other universities.
The Western Student Education Association. This student organization offers professional development for future teachers. Once a year the group hosts workshops for future teachers, and every semester they host teacher panels so students can learn from veteran teachers. They provide programming during the teacher academy conference, sponsored by WMU, and also reach out to students at local community colleges like Kalamazoo Valley Community College. These early connections help build a bridge between WMU and other local schools for when the time comes to choose a four-year institution.
A feeling of community. The CEHD cares about students and wants them not only to succeed, but to feel at home here. Students take classes together in cohorts and faculty participate in extra-curricular activities for education majors. In addition, every CEHD student has the opportunity to receive coaching through the Student Success Center. Education students at WMU feel welcomed and supported during their collegiate journey and beyond.
WMU is the first institution in Michigan to offer a new combined endorsement in physical and health education. Our nation and state’s growing focus on the broader notion of wellness has strengthened the preference for careers teaching physical and health education to students, and WMU was the first institution in the state to offer this new combination. Being on the cutting edge of change helps keep WMU competitive.
The word is out: Michigan needs teachers. With a growing shortage of teachers, students are feeling confident they will get hired once they earn their degree. Over nine in 10 CEHD graduates are employed or continuing education within just three months of graduation.
A solid reputation. Founded as a teacher's college in 1903, Western Michigan University has successfully prepared teachers for over 100 years. Students that choose WMU know they will get in-school experience sooner, start methods courses earlier, and that they can graduate fully prepared to teach. Our students can be confident in their future knowing that Michigan school principals ranked 98% of new teachers prepared at WMU as "effective" or "highly effective" in recent years.
For all these reasons and more, WMU remains a natural top choice for students pursuing teacher preparation.