Graduation Tip: Participation & The One Question Rule

April 8, 2009

Graduation tip #2 goes along with the previous graduation tip, which was to talk to your teaching assistant.  Today’s tip focuses on the simple rule of asking (at least) one question per discussion section.  While this tip may seem very simple, you’ll be surprised at how many students actually do not do this.
This idea comes from another tactic that many shy people are taught, which is to say hi or smile at 3 strangers per day.  The goal here is to become more comfortable with interacting with strangers you do not know and eventually striking up conversations.
The simple task of asking a question or two and engaging in conversation at least once per section helps show your involvement in classes.  The trick here is to make sure the TA also knows your name!  Think in the big picture, in the real world what good is talking to the big boss and giving him a great idea, and then leaving without even introducing yourself?

I remember when I was in college, I had some teaching assistants who in the 10th week still did not know the names of many of their students.  Was this their fault?  Were they partying too hard or just really bad with names?  It was neither, it was my fault!  Throughout the entire quarter I had failred to make a lasting impression that would force them to remember my name!

So to summarize, participate, participate, participate.  Here’s a bonus tip.  Email the TA before the discussion session with a quick question, or a follow-up question after the section.  This helps ensure the TA knows your first and last name and to not confuse you with other students who may have the same first name.

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