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Teaching assistant - good experience?

dean84dean84 Registered User Posts: 71 Junior Member
edited May 2013 in Pre-Med Topics
Our son is interested in becoming a biology teaching assistant, but is worried about the time commitment and the affect on his studies (sophomore next year). Biology is a strong subject for him and something he would enjoy. Any feedback if this activity would be worthwhile considering the time commitment? Is this activity valuable for his med school application even if it's not clinical, research, service etc?
Post edited by dean84 on

Replies to: Teaching assistant - good experience?

  • ShrafShraf Registered User Posts: 2,400 Senior Member
    teaching is important with regards to med school apps and is looked upon favorably. Being a TA, especially for a premed class, is a great EC to have. it's a teaching experience and shows a great mastery of the subject.
  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom Registered User Posts: 9,663 Senior Member
    Both my daughters were TAs.

    D2 started TAing as a freshman. She TAed for a variety of math classes plus biochem. D1TAed biochem, PChem, and actually taught Acoustics for the Allied Health Sciences after the VAP quit unexpectedly the 2nd week of class.

    Both of them enjoyed the teaching experience a good deal and would do it all over again.

    The amount of time required for being a TA isn't that much compared to say--being lab asst. The biggest time drain will be grading exams--which usually occurs in a big 3-6 hour block the afternoon/evening after an exam. (Whether all TAs have to be there the entire time until all the exams are graded is a professor-specific policy.) Both kids were also working as paid research lab assts at the same time and spent much more time working in the lab.

    Is the activity valuable? I guess that depends on how you define "valuable".

    It doesn't count as a leadership activity on AMCAS. (Per LizzyM) TAing would be listed as "teaching, tutoring, or other instructional position" in the activities section.
  • dean84dean84 Registered User Posts: 71 Junior Member
    Thank you both for the feedback. WayOutWestMom...you're right the term "valuable" is subjective. I guess I was trying to ask if the benefits outweigh the costs. The benefits are enjoyment and hopefully "value" to the application and the costs would be the extra time that could take away from studies. Also, I'm just curious how this activity measures up against the standard clinical, research, service activities in terms of the application.
  • i_wanna_be_Browni_wanna_be_Brown Forum Champion Brown Posts: 8,225 Forum Champion
    you can't really speak about activities "measuring up" in that way. Not all doctors do research, not all doctors teach, not all doctors work with the underserved etc. At this early stage, do what speaks to you (especially since there's no guarantees yet you're even applying to med school) and then later on you can figure out what picture to paint in your application given your history.

    Teaching is a major part of medicine though (whether it's teaching your patients or teaching other medical staff) and having teaching experience is always a plus.
  • TatinGTatinG Registered User Posts: 6,114 Senior Member
    D has been a teaching assistant for a number of courses and has gotten so much out of it that her PS is largely based on teaching. She was selected by the prof which not only shows his/her confidence that the TA has mastered the subject but also has the communication skills, patience and sensitivity to explain it. Whether it fits the leadership box on the app or not, it certainly shows that the applicant has the leadership skills to manage a class.
  • kal123kal123 Registered User Posts: 507 Member
    Being a TA is one way of getting to know the professors better which goes a long way in snagging a great LOR from them. My son expects (hopefully it is delivered already) an excellent LOR from the CS professor that he was a TA for. Regarding the time commitment - it depends on the class. Being a TA for a CS programming course is EXTREAMELY time consuming. Between holding office hours, answering forum questions, scoring all the programming assignments and tests my son must have spent 20-25 hours week.
  • MiamiDAPMiamiDAP Registered User Posts: 16,184 Senior Member
    my D. was not a TA, she was an SI for Gen. Chem. for 3 years. Only positive experience. It might be less time consuming though. SI by far was not her most time consuming EC at all. Sorority was the most time consuming. SI for Gen Chem allowed her to take MCAT without preparing for Chem. at all. She said, she knew everything.
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