My Teaching Assistant Experience

One of the unique aspects of being an Applied Economics and Management major is the fact that there is a heavy reliance on undergraduate teaching assistants in many of the large core classes (some of which have up to 20 TA’s). While this might be relatively unique to Cornell–I’ve had friends from other schools act shocked upon learning they’d let an undergraduate TA a course–I’ve found that it’s really helped my education. How so? Students my age are accessible, competent, relatable, and can often explain conceptual material very well to fellow undergrads.

This semester, I decided to “give back” and become a teaching assistant for an introductory management course I did very well in…and it’s been a great experience so far.

What have I been doing, exactly, as a TA? All sorts of things: taking attendance, grading papers, proctoring quizzes, giving review lectures, and holding office hours.

While grading papers isn’t always the most thrilling part of the job (ideally, you want everyone to do well..and that’s not always the case), it has been rewarding being able to explain topics or give clarifications on assignments. Plus, it’s a great excuse to practice the ol’ public speaking skills.

It’s also interesting to be on the “other” side of a class, because it’s made me appreciate the work that goes into putting together a large lecture hall style course. The professor and TA’s have to make sure assignments are relevant, all the grades are inputted into the system without error (for all the hundreds of students), and they must handle the constant flow of kids adding and dropping the course in the first couple of weeks. Plus, there are unique stresses that come up–such as when you have office hours a day or two before a large assignment is due, and lots of people would like assistance. It’s been a lot of responsibility, but it is a fun role.

Do I want to go into teaching full-time? Probably not, at least at first–but this job has been very rewarding.

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