Knowing how four years and a degree from Grove City College can help you will help make your college search so much easier, so I caught up with 2015 graduate, Lauren Schmitt, to see how her Music Education degree from Grove City College was helping her now.
Q. For what age range is your teaching certification?
A. My education certification is K-12 and I am also certified to teach both vocal music and instrumental music.
Q. I know you live in New Jersey. Since Grove City is located in Pennsylvania did you have an trouble getting your certification to transfer from Pennsylvania to New Jersey?
A. I had no trouble getting my PA certification to transfer to an NJ certification. All I had to do was send in a copy of my PA cert and they sent me an NJ cert. PA and NJ have very similar expectations and requirements for their teachers so the certifications transfer over really easily.
Q. What is your current position and who is your current employer? Did your Grove City degree help/hinder you in getting that position?
A. I currently teach 4th and 5th grade instrumental music (band) in the Parsippany Troy-Hills School District. I’m not really sure if my Grove City degree helped or hindered in me getting this position. Since I grew up in the district that I’m working in, I have a lot of connections with the other music teachers in the district. I think that helped me a lot in getting an interview as well as getting the position. The one thing that certainly helped in the interview process was that when I did my student teaching, I got to student teach with all grades K-12. Most colleges in the NJ area don’t have that opportunity for their students. On the secondary level they either student teach at a middle school or a high school level. When I did my student teaching at Lakeview, they had one band teacher for both the middle school and high school so I had the opportunity to work with beginner students as well as the most advanced students in the school.
Q. I know you are also working on grad school classes, what has that experience been like? Has your Grove City degree helped/hindered you in any way?
A. I am currently about half way done with my Masters in Music Education through Boston University’s online program. It has been a great experience so far, but completely different from any other education experience I’ve ever had. Since I’m taking all of my classes online, I pretty much get to set the pace of everything I’m learning, I just need to make sure I’m handing in all of my assignments on time. Most of my contact with my professors is all through email which is something I’m still getting used to. Grove City College definitely helped me with figuring out the best way to balance my schedule. I’m still working while I’m taking classes so my schedule can sometimes get a little crazy. In the fall, along with grad school and work, I was also working with our high school marching band five days a week. I am constantly trying to find a balance between getting work done and doing school work. Thankfully, at Grove City I was a member of a lot of musical ensembles and most of my nights were spent in rehearsals. I usually never got back to my room until about 9:30 every night. Because of this, I had to find time to get all of my homework done, which is kind of like what I’m doing now. I’ve also been able to take a lot of the material that I learned in my classes at Grove City and apply them to my grad school classes.
Q. What do you miss most about Grove City College?
A. The biggest thing I miss about Grove City is the community of friends I had out at school. As a music ed major, I was taking most of my classes with the same people every day for four years. Because of this, we grew really close pretty quickly. Two out of my three roommates my senior year were also music ed majors. I also became really close with a lot of my professors. Since most of the music professors teach multiple classes, we were able to have them over a number of semesters. Since our class sizes were small, we got to know our professors really well. I miss how much the professors cared about you as a person and not just as a student. I still remember my senior year, I had a midterm review in my Issues in Education class an hour before my senior recital jury. I remember talking to the professor about it a few days before the class and she told me that she knew I wasn’t going to be able to focus on class that day so I should get the notes from someone else and focus on my jury. When I saw her after my jury, she made sure to ask how I did and you could tell she was genuinely interested to hear how I did.
Q. Would you recommend Grove City College to prospective high school students? Why or why not?
A. I would recommend Grove City to prospective High School students, especially if you do well in small classroom settings. When I was first looking at colleges, I knew I was looking for a smaller classroom setting because I knew that’s how I learned better. I wanted to be able to ask my professors questions and have them know who I was. This is exactly what I got at Grove City, even in my humanities classes.
Q. What is your best piece of advice for an incoming Grove City College student?
A. I have two pieces of advice or incoming Grove City students. My first piece of advice is to get to know your professors. Once I got to know my professors well, it changed the way I learned at Grove City. I wasn’t afraid to go in to their office hours and ask them questions. It also helps because you are going to be sitting in their class two or three times a week. If you can get to know them and they get to know you, it makes class more interesting. My other piece of advice is to get involved in activities on campus. My freshman year, I didn’t participate in many things outside of class. I thought it might help to make my transition into college a little easier. I was in marching band, but other than that I didn’t participate in many other activities. My sophomore year, I joined every major performing ensemble on campus (marching band, concert band, wind ensemble, orchestra, and choir) as well as a few other performing groups (woodwind quintet, flute choir, pit orchestra, etc.) and it changed my whole GCC experience. I got to know so many more people and experience a lot of new things. I even got to play with the woodwind quintet at the president’s house. Yes, it may make your schedule a little more crazy, but it is totally worth it.
Q. Is there anything else that you would like to share about experience during or after your time at Grove City College?
A. Because of my time spent at Grove City, I felt really prepared for life after college. With the information I learned in class, I felt completely ready to take over a classroom of my own. Grove City prepares you for what you are going to face in the future. Also, just because you leave school, it doesn’t mean that you stop learning. Don’t stop looking for opportunities to learn outside of the classroom. There is always room for improvement.