The Nerd’s Word: Take the Lead in the Classroom and Become a TA

Most college professors effectively manage classrooms, but often need the help of teacher assistants.  Teacher assistants help their professors with much of the work, allowing the teacher more time for instruction, administration and lesson planning.  TAs provide instructional and clerical support for their professors and assist students in learning class material by using the teacher’s lesson plans and providing students with individualized attention.

Regardless of your major, having a TA position is fulfilling and allows you to learn something from your instructor and the specific course you taking in a whole new light.  A teacher assistant role looks great on resumes and is an excellent experience to discuss in future job interviews, so how can you secure the job?  All the Nerd to be of some assistance with a relatively simple four-step process…

Step 1: Keep your grades up. In order to apply for a TA position, it is best to choose a class in which you have good grades. Your instructor will want to know you are dedicated to this class and are able to keep your grades up, along with taking on more responsibilities.

Step 2: Ask your instructor for a TA position. After a couple weeks of the class, and you have good grades, make it a point to ask your instructor, or your college counselor, if there are any TA positions available this semester or term.

Step 3: Apply for the TA Position. Your instructor, or counselor, might even be impressed you asked about a TA position, and tell you how to get a TA application. If your instructor likes how you apply yourself in class, complete all class assignments and help other students, you will most likely qualify for their TA position. On the TA application, write down the courses you have already taken that qualify you for this TA position and what volunteer work, if any, you have completed. Also, write down other instructor’s names, as references, on the application, along with your current grades and what year you intend to graduate.

Step 4: Contribute in class and keep all of your grades up. Help other students and ask or answer questions in class to show your dedication and prove you would be a valuable TA to an instructor.

Before you begin the process of applying for a job as a teacher assistant, be sure to consider a few key items that can be determined through a quick self-evaluation.  The best TAs are attentive, patient, and able to effectively communicate with students.  Beyond these attributes, you must have above average grades in the course that you will be working in and have an excellent understanding of the class curriculum.  Let’s not forget that you will need to have cultivated a solid, trusting relationship with your professor in order to assist them in their work on a daily basis.  So, weigh your options and keep in mind that TA work is not going to be easy but it will benefit you as both a current student and future leader.  In the next edition of The Nerd’s Word, we will focus on the life of college athletes and offer up the best methods for properly balancing academics and sports.

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