by Priya Sudendra, CollegeFocus.com
Being a teaching assistant is a great experience for a graduate student or upperclassmen. Teaching sheds a whole new light on not only being a teacher, but also being a student. It also helps you get closer to the professors and make new connections to advance your career. Being a TA is a lot of work but the rewards are great. Here are a few:
- Relearning the Basics. When you’re back in an introduction class, all of the information comes back to you and reinforces the foundation of your knowledge. The course you TA for can give you more time to think about the field you are in, and because you will be teaching, assigning homework, and grading, all the information will be retained. You’ll be surprised at how much of the content you actually know.
- Letters of Recommendation. Being a teaching assistant could mean that the supervising professor will write you a glowing recommendation. They’ll be checking up on you and if you are doing a great job as a TA, they should be willing to write you a wonderful recommendation that you can use for reference and future jobs. The connections you make as a teaching assistant can help you in future if there’s a job opening or any other opportunities that professors might think you would be a good candidate for.
- Extra Income. In many cases, TAs are paid or may get financial assistance with their tuition. If your college does the latter, you will be saving thousands just by becoming a TA. Even if your college does not compensate you very much, it is a nice addition to any other jobs you may have. Being a TA can even get you college credit, which, in the long run, helps you save money.
- Skills for the future. Becoming a teaching assistant can help you gain skills you can use for the future. You will be teaching a class or lab, which will help you develop your public speaking skills. If the supervising professor involves you and asks for you input on lectures and assignments, don’t be afraid to speak up! This is your chance to fix problems you had when you were taking similar courses. You will probably have a better grasp of how the students feel than the professor does. Talking to your professor and trying to understand how others learn will really improve your communication and leadership skills. If you’re planning on becoming a teacher in future, being a TA is a necessity; you will need experience to get ahead.
Working as a teaching assistant as a graduate student has many perks. The connections and experience you gain will help you not only with your academic career, but also once you are looking for a job. It is a great opportunity to learn and gain valuable skills.
About the author: Priya Sudendra is a junior at the University of Colorado and a staff writer for CollegeFocus, a website dedicated to helping students deal with the challenges of college, including housing, finance, style, health, relationships, and transferring from a community college to a four-year university.