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werther
08-11-2007, 12:46 PM
Hi. I am starting my MA this fall and I have a choice to TA or not (basically everyone who applies gets one, I've heard). I've asked some people at the school and one says it's practically no big deal and another says it was a lot of work because he/she had to grade as well as hold tutorials.

Personally I never TA'ed as an undergrad even when opportunities were made available because I didn't feel comfortable with such responsibilities (I know it's kind of silly, but for me yeah). If I were to apply for it now, I am afraid I will waste too much time fretting over tutorial sessions, etc. I know I have to get over my paranoia sooner or later, but I also don't want this trivial thing to stress me out (when I'll already be stressed out because of classes). I also have to do well in my classes too.

I have not completely ruled out PhD so I am just wondering how important it is to have previous TA experience? I know I'm throwing away good funding, but will I be losing out on more than that by not taking up this responsibility?

asquare
08-11-2007, 03:21 PM
When applying for the PhD, it is a lot LESS important to have previous TA experience than to have good grades in your MA courses. Most people applying to PhD programs do not have previous teaching experience, and most schools don't weight that very much at all. (I can think of a very few cases where it could make a difference, such as on offers of TA positions for non-native English speakers during the first year, but even then I suspect the effect is small and second order.)

If you think the time put into the TA responsibilities will affect your grades, don't do it. If you aren't sure, wait a semester before applying for a TA job. That will give you a chance to figure out how much time you need for your own course work, what is really involved in being a TA, and which professors are good to work for. It is typical that some TA jobs are a lot more work than others, which is probably why you got such different answers from two people at the same school.

kkitkat
08-11-2007, 04:42 PM
Don't worry about TAing at U of T. Unless you're assigned History of Economic Thought course there isn't much work to be done at all. And MA students normally don't hold tutorials, they just mark which is fairly easy once you get the hang of it. It's horribly boring, but easy :) It's really almost free money, I loved it! If I were you I would apply and then see what assignment you get. If you don't like it just don't accept it.

werther
08-11-2007, 04:47 PM
Don't worry about TAing at U of T. Unless you're assigned History of Economic Thought course there isn't much work to be done at all. And MA students normally don't hold tutorials, they just mark which is fairly easy once you get the hang of it. It's horribly boring, but easy :) It's really almost free money, I loved it! If I were you I would apply and then see what assignment you get. If you don't like it just don't accept it.

oh really? Thanks! There was this guy on facebook who said he just graduated from UT MA and he told me he had to hold tutorials every other week! So I was like.. feeling apprehensive. I hope that is not the case with me!

PS. I am not sure what you mean by your last sentence "see what assignment I get and if I don't like just dont' accept.." Is it ok to accept in the beginning and decide not to TA for whatever reason?


Thanks

kkitkat
08-11-2007, 04:52 PM
Is it ok to accept in the beginning and decide not to TA for whatever reason?

yeah, it's ok. They even say that during the orientation. If you feel like your TA duties interfere with your studying it's ok to ask for reduction of duties or reassignment of all your duties to someone else.

buckykatt
08-11-2007, 10:22 PM
How much work it is to TA a course will vary widely based on the course as well as your personality. And I agree with asquare that TAing doesn't boost your profile for admission to a Ph.D. program enough to make it worth lower grades, though there are certainly cases where it can be a plus.

However, here are a few other ways that TAing might be a valuable experience:

1. You might get to know the professor for the course better, resulting in a better LOR or a RA opportunity later.

2. You might get a better idea whether teaching is something you are good at and want to do if you decide to pursue a Ph.D..

3. You might also learn some economics. :)

Overall, I'd say that if you can find a TA position that doesn't look too onerous, you should give it a shot for at least one semester.