We already know how easy it can be to bug our professors, but what about our teaching assistants? Your TA is the one person standing between you and your professor, so your relationship with him or her is equally important. It’s easy for us to want to relate to our TAs since they’re students, too, but it’s pretty important to know the types of things you’re doing that are grinding your TA’s gears. Check out a few things students do that TAs can’t stand.
1. Turning in work late
During stressful times, you might accidentally slip up on your work and forget about certain assignments. But it’s important to consider the feelings of your TA when it comes to getting your work done properly and on time. Turning in work late is not only disrespectful to your TA, but can cause problems to his or her own grading schedule.
2. Not showing up to class
You probably remember 300 students showing up to your 9 a.m. class on the first day. But now, you’re looking around at a class full of fewer than 100 people, wondering where everyone went. It’s tempting to shut down and get a little lazy during the final stretch of the semester, but think about how annoyed you would be if your TA didn’t show up to teach class.
Your TA has just as much work to do as you, if not more, which means that he or she is probably tired, too. Showing up to class not only shows that you actually care about your TA’s time, but it can also be a factor that determines your final grade in the class.
Anthony*, a TA from the University of Georgia, says, “Whenever students ask me what they can do to improve their grades, I always ask them two questions: How often do you come to class, and how often do you do the assigned readings? It's remarkable how often the answer is, ‘Not very often,’ or, ‘Hardly ever,’ or something along those lines.” You might not think going to your huge lecture class is necessary, but it might pay off more than you’d think.
3. Not caring
It’s one thing to be in class physically, but being there mentally is a whole different ball game. It’s understandable – some of your classes can seem completely pointless when you’re only trying to fulfill a requirement for your degree.
“Some students simply don't want to be there, and that would be the case no matter who were teaching,” Anthony says. “I just try to make it as engaging as possible, and I'm genuinely appreciative when the class responds.”
Though you may not necessarily need a class you’re in, there might be some pretty useful information that you could end up taking away from it. The least you could do to satisfy your TA is engage in discussion and do the work to make it look as if you want to be there.
4. Acting like they’re your friends
TAs can be easier to relate to just because of the fact that they’re closer to our age, so it’s easy for us to want to be friends with them and get on their good sides (especially when we feel like our grades need a little boost). But it’s important for us collegiettes to understand that it’s the TA’s job to teach us and to act professional while doing it. If you like your TA that much, try waiting until the end of the semester to get friendly.
Your TA is the gateway between you and a really busy professor, and, in some cases, your grade can lie in his or her hands. Avoid making these mistakes and you’ll have an awesome semester!
*Name has been changed.