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Thread: How to get TA funding for MA in Econ

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    econ scholar dogbones's Avatar
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    How to get TA funding for MA in Econ

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    My school, University of Hawaii at Manoa, has a number of teaching assistantships for graduate students both PhD and MA, and I知 applying for the MA, and I want to maximize my odds of getting this award for two reasons: have funding for the MA and get teaching experience prior to a PhD program at another school outside of Hawaii. The application asks for special skills and reasons why I should get the TA. What would help me win one of the TAs? I知 going to learn 3-4 programming languages, study math textbooks, and core graduate level economics as well as popular economics (mainstream books). What else can I do?

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    Re: How to get TA funding for MA in Econ

    Your best chance is to emphasize that you have been through the undergrad program at that school. That's what makes you an ideal TA.

    Also, do you have any tutoring experience? If not, get some. Offer to help for free.

    None of the stuff you listed (coding skills, math, pop econ books) matters for teaching (which can be grading papers or leading recitation sections).

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    Re: How to get TA funding for MA in Econ

    Would tutoring women in computer skills at the local YWCA be good tutoring experience? I can稚 afford enough time to get a part time job tutoring, or rather it痴 really hard to commit to another fixed schedule that repeats. I値l look at other options too...

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    Re: How to get TA funding for MA in Econ

    Since you know people at UH, perhaps it would be best to ask them.

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    Re: How to get TA funding for MA in Econ

    What specifically is the reason that I should emphasize my undergraduate study at the institution where I want to be a TA? Is it because I know the curriculum? Or are there any other reasons other than that?

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    Re: How to get TA funding for MA in Econ

    Now it's summer so the faculty are not responding much to emails, but I think once the Fall semester starts up again I should pay them a visit and ask about the TA criteria as well as any potential research mentors.

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    Re: How to get TA funding for MA in Econ

    Quote Originally Posted by dogbones View Post
    What specifically is the reason that I should emphasize my undergraduate study at the institution where I want to be a TA? Is it because I know the curriculum? Or are there any other reasons other than that?
    You know the college climate, faculty expectations, and so on. You also know the faculty, right?

    The curriculum is similar enough for classes that have a TA that having taken those classes at that school makes only marginal difference.

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    Re: How to get TA funding for MA in Econ

    Yes, I know all of the faculty, but less than half of the faculty would remember my name (maybe 5 profs or so). I'm planning to head to the department next Monday (first day of classes) and talk with them to gauge what they'd need in order for me to get the TA and also a research mentor or two. If you were the faculty, what would you say to me?

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    Trying to make mom and pop proud
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    Re: How to get TA funding for MA in Econ

    Quote Originally Posted by dogbones View Post
    Yes, I know all of the faculty, but less than half of the faculty would remember my name (maybe 5 profs or so). I'm planning to head to the department next Monday (first day of classes) and talk with them to gauge what they'd need in order for me to get the TA and also a research mentor or two. If you were the faculty, what would you say to me?
    Honestly, if you showed up in my office, on the first day or week of classes, with no appointment and were not enrolled in one of my classes or one of my advisees? I'd tell you to email and make an appointment. The beginning of the semester is very busy. Dropping in unannounced on a professional doesn't happen in any other industry (you'd never just drop in on your lawyer or even your hairdresser, and expect that person to have time for you) and it is a courtesy extended to current students or advisees, or to past students with whom I have an ongoing mentoring relationship, but not available to the general public.

    Once you made an appointment, I'd tell you that TA assignments are generally managed by the DGS. They are limited in most MA programs and are awarded to the students we are recruiting strongly, so the things that make your application strong will also increase your chance of being offered a TA position in your first semester. After the first semester, future decisions will take into account your performance in class and your interaction with other students and faculty.

    I'd also tell you that I don't have the capacity to advise research of external students. I owe it to my current students to spend my time on them, and if you enter the program, I will also prioritize your training over mentoring of people not enrolled in our programs. If you have specific skills my current students do not, and that I need for one of my projects, then I'd consider offering you a part time RA position working on one of my projects, but if not, there would not be a way for me to give you research experience at the present. My answer would be a little bit different if you were one of my previous students and if we had a substantive mentoring relationship when you were a student.

    I'm sorry if this isn't what you want to hear, and perhaps your experience will be different, but it's an honest answer based on the reality of my job and my interactions with many students and perspective students.

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    Re: How to get TA funding for MA in Econ

    Prof, you're right about the TA having the same criteria as admissions... they said basically grades are what they look at. I had no problem talking with three professors about an hour ago, and need to talk to at least one other professor that wasn't in today. My longest conversations were about five minutes long, and basically what I needed to hear. Now I'm thinking of taking an online course that I can tack onto my application in Economics to boost my chances of getting the TA. Do you have any recommendations? Thank you...

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