Graduation Tip: Talk To Your TA

April 7, 2009

This is the first of hopefully many in a series of graduation tips for seniors planning on graduating this year.  While the focus will be on seniors, we’re sure most of these tips can be used by students in any grade level.

Today’s post focuses on teaching assistants, one of the most under utilized yet useful resources a student can have.  Teaching assistants often hold the answer to tests before they are administered, control grades for their students, and can write a mean letter of recommendation when needed.

Here are 3 major reasons why you SHOULD talk to your teaching assistant:

Project Extensions:

It’s easier to ask for an extension on a paper or project once you’ve built genuine rapport with your TA.  Most won’t mind and will be friendly to extensions.  They’ve been through college, they know stuff comes up, and well… they’ll be backlogged with other students’ papers already, so what’s an extra day to them?

They Grade You:

In a lecture hall of 300+ students, they are the ones giving you grades and directly deciding if you made the A- or B+ cut.  Get to know your TA, understand what he or she is looking for in papers and projects, and what expectations they have for their students.  Spending 10 minutes a week talking to your TA could make or break your GPA for grad school, no joke.

Argue Grades:

Hopefully it does not come to this, but if you are borderline between one grade or another, knowing your TA will make it that much easier to argue for the higher grade.  I think it goes without saying, they will be more lenient and willing to negotiate your grade if you had attended office hours all semester.

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