Sometimes, you are going to have no clue. A student will come to your office hours or tutorial, ask you a question, and you won’t know the answer. You’re the TA so you should know this right? Why don’t you know this? It can shake your confidence.
I hate to break it to you, but you don’t know everything. The good news is that it’s ok. You can’t know everything. Students may expect you to know everything but it’s not realistic.
The first thing to do is admit that you don’t know for sure. It’s better to do that than try to make a guess that ends up being wrong and completely leads them astray. Your next step is to find out the answer. Tell the student that you’ll look into it and get back to them, either in the next tutorial or by email. Make sure that you do follow up on it!
The end of the semester means you’ll be getting a lot more questions so be prepared. Just keep your cool and follow up if necessary.
If you’re applying to grad school, you’ve got reference letters on your To Do list. They provide proof that you are an amazing choice when your potential grad school is making admissions decisions. Now, how do you go about getting them?
First, figure out who would write you the best letter. It could be a prof who you know well through office hours or you working closely with them on something (thesis, TA position, etc.). It should be someone who knows you well enough to be able to speak specifically about your strengths and skills as a student. Don’t be shy about asking for a reference letter! Profs do it all the time.
Your next step is to create a package for each referee that will help them to write the letter. Include info about the school itself: program info, deadlines, address, etc. Also include info about yourself: transcript, CV, statement of interest for that school’s application, and anything else you want them to speak to in the letter.
Finally, it’s time to approach your professors of choice. Ask them not only if they will write you a letters but also if they feel comfortable providing a good reference. You don’t want someone writing you a mediocre or poor letter (it happens!). Also, ensure to give them plenty of time. You don’t want to rush them when they’re doing you a favour.
I’ll be asking for reference letters next month. Anyone have any other tips?
This semester I’ve learned the true meaning of the phrase ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’. Things have gotten tough with my thesis over the past month because of personal life getting in my way and various changes being made to my thesis. I now have 21 days left until the due date and I really do have to get going. If you start getting into a tough situation with whatever you’re working on, get going. I mean this in three ways.
Image credit: Tough stuff by booksnlooks on polyvore.com
Get going on a plan. Making a plan and a schedule will make your life so much easier. I recently sat down with a calendar and plotted out what I need to accomplish on each day to finish all my course work in time for all their respective due dates. Not only does it give me a clear idea of what I need to do on a given day, it also gives me peace of mind. I’m no longer carrying around a massive to do list and freaking myself out. All I need to focus on today is data. The rest of the days are mapped out so I don’t need to worry about it.
Get going for help. If you’re like me, you don’t exactly love asking for anyone’s help. Maybe you want to look like you’ve got all the answers and everything’s under control. Maybe you’re a bit of a control freak. Maybe it’s for some other reason. Get over it. You can accomplish so much more if you get some help. For example, talk to your thesis supervisor if you’re having trouble with a concept, or talk to your family/roommates about doing fewer chores now while you’re busy and making up for it later. Get help with whatever you need before things become an issue.
Finally, get going on your work. Quit with the slacking! Do everything you need to do, even if it means decreasing your social life. It’s only temporary and you, my friend, have work to do.
For me, strolling around campus isn’t just about the books side of the equation. It’s also about the looks. I, for one, like to look cute. I like clothes and make-up and accessories. Deal with it.
There are plenty of ways to look fashionable while staying comfy for long lectures. My current favourite option is to ditch sweatshirts for cardigans. They look much more polished and are just as comfortable. Look for thicker knits or add a scarf if you’re cold in class (I always am). Step up your jeans by wearing a dark wash in a classic bootcut or trendy style, like high-wasted or skinny. Skip jeans with holes, please. If you love wearing heels, go right ahead, but don’t feel that you have to. Flats always look good. I’m a huge fan of loafers: comfy, cute, and I think they look academic. If flats or heels just aren’t comfy enough, there are tons of cute options that still support your feet. I personally have to wear orthotics for my flat feet so I wear skate shoes…so comfy and they add the right amount of attitude to my look.
Not only will dressing up help you look better, you’ll feel better with the confidence boost of knowing you look great. You’ll be more likely to raise your hand to contribute an insightful point in your discussion group, or even just ask the question your entire class feels too sheepish to ask. I also feel more motivated when I look the part. If I’m kicking it in sweatpants, I feel like more of a slacker. If I’m looking cute and professional, then I feel like and act more like the A student I am. Maybe it’s shallow, but if it gets me the top mark in the class, then who cares?
What’s your go-to style for school?
Every student is well acquainted with stress. Heck, every human being is. There are plenty of stress-busting methods out there listed in countless blog posts. Here’s one that I find rarely written about: don’t put yourself in stressful situations.
Before you roll your eyes, stay with me. I’m not saying you can avoid all potentially stressful situations. You’re going to have to write your thesis. You’ll have to go to the hospital for something potential dangerous (I have and it sucked). You really can’t avoid some things. You can, however, identify situations and people that you don’t need in your life.
For example, there are certain people in your life that will stress you out. Friends, family, coworkers, fellow students…you know who I’m talking about. Let’s say you have a friend who constantly has drama and you get sucked in and stressed out. Don’t call him/her up during exams. Limit the time you spend with him/her. Also, learn to recognize people who bring too much negativity in your life and cut them out. Harsh as it may sound, I personally have no issue with cutting people out of my life because I don’t have the time or energy to waste.
Now, how about situations? There are plenty of everyday stressful situations and you have the power to stay away from them. I get stressed about being out alone at night, so I do my errands during the day or go out at night with other people. Identifying stressful situations and ensuring you don’t find yourself in that situation will leave you happier and less stressed in the long run.
Got a stressful situation or friend on your hands? How do you handle it?
PS- If you feel that your stress is getting unmanageable, do something about it! Healthy lifestyles decrease stress so make sure you get the proper amount of sleep, nutrition, exercise, and sunlight. Talk about your issues with a trusted friend or family member. If need be, don’t shy away from seeking counselling. Your school will have counselling services and there also may be a local distress line to call if you need to talk to someone urgently. Don’t put it off!