Teaching assistants (TAs) are here to help!

What is a teaching assistant (TA)?

TAs are upper-year or graduate level students that help your professors and instructors with grading, tutorials, exams and more.

As a Peer Success Coach, I often see students underutilizing their TAs and speaking to them only when they need clarification on how an assignment was or will be marked. However, TAs hold a vast amount of knowledge not only about the assignments, but what it takes to succeed in a course and discipline — remember, they were once in your shoes!  

How can by TA support me?

  • Help-seeking: Many students hesitate to ask for help when they need it — knowing when and who to ask for help will serve you well in your academic and professional life. TAs are an important resource in developing your help-seeking skills by helping you articulate your challenges, advising you on when to seek support from the instructor, providing useful advice and solutions and identifying important resources specific to your courses.  

  • Communication: Effective communication is a cornerstone of success in academia. TAs can help you refine your communication skills, whether it's in writing, presentations, or interpersonal interactions. Because TAs grade your assignments, they know your work well and can provide you constructive feedback on where and how to improve.   

  • Time management: TAs can help clarify for you how much time you should be spending on your assignments to make sure you are meeting assignment requirements and course expectations. TAs communicate this in their feedback and can explain it in greater detail if you ask!  

What are the benefits of working with my TA? 

  • Clarification: If you're struggling to understand complex topics, TAs can provide additional explanations or insights to help you understand the material.  

  • Feedback: TAs are usually responsible for grading assignments. This means they can provide valuable feedback and tips for improving your work. 

  • Networking: Building rapport with your TA can expand your academic network. They might connect you with professors, research opportunities or other resources.   

  • Mentorship: TAs can offer guidance and advice on coursework, research and life as a student.   

It might be intimidating to reach out to your TAs especially if you don’t quite know how to put into words the support you’re seeking. If you need ideas on how to do this effectively, check out:  

Start a conversation with your TA today and unlock the full potential of your academic experience!