The TA (teaching assistant): Everything You Need to Know
A TA is a post-graduate student responsible for providing assistance to a particular professor by giving tutorials, lectures to undergraduate students. This individual may also be responsible for grading assignment papers. These services are typically part of the terms of an assistantship or fellowship position.
A student should consider being a teaching assistant because of two important reasons. First, it helps them pay for their education. TAs are awarded either a tuition discount or a stipend. Second, it helps them gain university-level teaching experience. This is a very effective resume booster for any field and is valuable for students who wish to become professors.
A student, who wants to be a TA, should find out as much information as possible about the assistantship program available at the school. It’s important to learn about the roles and responsibilities they will need to carry out as a TA. At some universities, teaching assistants oversee quiz questions or grade papers. At other universities, a TA may be asked to teach two classes per term. While universities generally provide first-year TAs with a basic syllabus and curriculum, they still need to spend a significant amount of time grading tests, preparing lesson plans, doing background reading, and meeting with students. All these may be overwhelming when a student is trying to keep up with their studies.
Sometimes, obtaining a TA position can be quite difficult. Some schools only have a small number of spots, while others may have none. Also, not all assistantships offer equal benefits. Both the amount of time that a TA needs to invest and the compensation can differ. Some TAs receive only a modest grant, while others may need to forego tuition payments.
Students should keep two important things in mind to increase their chances of securing the TA position. These include:
Applying early: As the TA positions are limited, students should apply for them as soon as the application process begins. In most universities and colleges, the application process for TA positions starts toward the end of the semester. It can continue up to 10 days before the beginning of the classes.
Maintaining a good academic record: Students need to have good academic records to strengthen their application. A student with a good GPA will be more likely to secure the TA position than the one with an average GPA.
Students also need to develop good communication and organizational skills and be prepared to take responsibility.