Five Tips Toward Ingratiating Yourself To Your TA

Posted at 9:56 AM Aug 26, 2009

By Andrea Grimes

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Here in Austin, it's the first day of fall classes at the University of Texas, and I'm about to head out the door to the lecture for the anthropology class I'll be a teaching assistant for this semester. I love back-to-school season, what with the new books and pencils and fall trends, and I especially love meeting my wide-eyed freshmen and watching them change over the semester. But while college is old news to me, it's new news to many, and the gals over at College Candy have a funny, practical back-to-school guide for those who are newly college bound.

Their advice, from people to avoid on day one to timeless dorm staples is fun even if you're long gone out of college and just want to reminisce. But it's mostly from a student's point of view, bien sur. So, to supplement what CC's got going on, I figured I'd drop five quick tips from a TA to help out any college Dolls who might be hitting up their discussion sections and labs for the first time this week.

- Go. To. Class.

For the most part, I really don't care in what state you make it to class. Hungover, fried, baked, freshly fucked. As long as you're coherent most days and don't fall asleep in a class of 20 students, showing up is half the battle. It says "I was capable of putting flip-flops on today, and I care about my education at least enough to not snooze through our discussion of Coming Of Age In Samoa." And hey, if you come to class, you might actually learn something! At the very least, you're going to hear me drop some accidental f-bombs.

- Visit me at my office hours.

It's not that it's not worthwhile to get to know the professor, but when it comes down to it, I am the one reading your essays, your midterms, your finals. If you can't distinguish yourself from the others during discussion sections, come say hi to me during my office hours. You will be one of about three people who do this all semester (without my express demand), and I will remember you. And when you're teetering between a B and a B+, I might just think, "Hey, that gal gave a tiny shit. B+ it is!"

- Read your essays out loud before you turn them in.

Even if you think you're a good writer, please read your paper aloud before you hand it in. I guarantee you that you have at least one wonky sentence in there that needs reworking. A paper with good content and terrible style is not an A paper.

- Changing the font size, altering the margins and manipulating the date on your essay is not fooling me.

Twelve point Times New Roman. Standard margins. Date the day it's due. If your paper doesn't look like this, I will suspect--and probably find--that you are covering up a length or content issue.

- Know that you are not the first person to get sick, have a relative die or get into a car accident.

I know it feels like you're the only person on the planet--that's how we raise our kids these days. I was there, once. But the fact is, people have gotten sick, died and screwed before. So I don't need a 5,000 word e-mail, sent 5 minutes before class starts, about how you can't make it to class because TK happened and so you have to wait on TK and if you can get a ride to TK then maybe you can make up your paper on TK. If something goes wrong and you really can't make it to class, tell me what happened, as briefly as possible. Bring in a doctor's note or similar. And if you really were just hungover or sticking around at the beach for a little longer, don't lie about it. Because I promise you that I will know, because I promise you that you are not the first person to write what sounds like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel trying to explain your absence.

Comments

Lshygirl5 said:

As a senior in college I have had some of the worst ta's and some of the best. Coming from a student's point of view I would say that a good tip is that if the students show a ta respect then the ta will show us respect. I hate it when ta's treat us all like infants when we are in reality close in age and education level (although I will admit, most of my peers act like immature infants on a daily basis). We don't start school here until September 8th, but good tips Andrea, I wish you were one of my ta's.

David said:

Ahhh darn it. The title was a tease for something I might read in Maxim magazine - but the content was thoughtful and insightful.

Dammit - I was fooled again!

Falling Alice said:

Amen!! I hate to think I'm getting jaded, but c'mon...is spellcheck really so hard to understand? Does anyone honestly think "u're" and "lol" are acceptable in a term paper??

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