Opinion | Students require more from teaching assistants

By Noah Nelson, Senior Columnist

To survive life here at the University, one must use all the ingredients that make up a successful college student. These students take good notes, sit closer to the front of the class, befriend classmates and utilize the professor’s office hours.

Only the really successful students know the most useful tool in the toolbox, though, the one that stands above all the others: utilizing your teaching assistant.

For numerous smaller courses here at the University, a professor leads the way without their trusty TA sidekick. However, many college courses take place in large lecture halls for a few hundred students. In these courses, the professor usually has several, TAs to assist them with anything they may need. In reality, the TAs do as much as, if not more than, the professor, as they typically grade assignments and assist with the exam-writing process.

Most of the time, TAs have a pretty good grasp on the course and lead their discussion sections like real professors and assist students in any way possible. Some, however, do not. I have worked with both good and bad TAs in my last three semesters here, but the best ones all had one thing in common: They gave it their all.

I have dealt with TAs who have done everything in their power to help every student in class in any way they can. These are the TAs that not only want you to succeed in the course but in college in general.

Then there are those who would rather be binge-watching the entire “Stranger Things” series than helping their students in need. These are the TAs you have to watch out for.

Being a TA is not the easiest gig in the world. Neither is being a college student. When TAs accept the position, they should know what they are getting themselves into. Their top priority for the semester should be assisting their students.

Good TAs should always make themselves accessible to their students. By being available during office hours and before or after class to answer any questions, they will help the course run much smoother.

Also, TAs should keep grades updated as much as possible and stay on track with the course material. This will not only benefit the students but them as well.

For those selves TAs who go out of your way for your students and assist them in any way you can, be proud of yourselves. Keep up the great work. You are doing what you are supposed to and we, struggling college students, thank you for that.

For you other TAs out there not giving your all to your students, think about how you can improve your position. If you don’t want to do that, maybe being a TA isn’t your cup of tea.

Either way, for every current and future TA out there, best of luck in your role. Don’t let us down.

Noah is a sophomore in LAS.

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