Each term, the School of Computer Science looks for highly qualified TAs to help instructors with the courses that they are teaching. We usually hire approximately 150 TAs for each Fall and Winter term and a few undergraduates during the summer terms. Being a TA may require 8-10 hours per week of your time over a 12 week period. As a TA, your responsibilities will vary according to the course that you are assigned. Duties typically include tasks such as: marking assignments, marking tests, conducting tutorials, proctoring midterm tests, entering grades, attending marking meetings and holding weekly office hours. For some courses, the instructor may require you to attend classes or labs. Below are frequently asked questions about TA positions:
Pay varies slightly every year, but undergraduates will receive $24.51 per hour (as of September 2021) for a total of anywhere between 65 to 130 hours per term. However, there are the usual types of monthly deductions as with any regular job.
In order to be a TA for a specific course, preference is given to those who have received a grade of “A+” in that course, although, at times, we have taken students who have received an “A“. In addition, the higher your GPA, the more likely you will be chosen. To be a TA, you must be a good student who is well-organized, punctual and responsible. You need not have had previous TA experience before, but it helps. It is important to remember that a TA position is a real job, and you will have a great responsibility to mark assignments/tests on time and show up to your office hours (and potentially tutorials) on time. If you have previous experience being a TA here at Carleton and have had favorable evaluations from your instructor, you will likely be given a TA position for many years. However, you still need to apply each term. If you have shown yourself to be late in marking duties or have had complaints from students for not being punctual, then this will affect your future TA prospects.
You will need to go to the TA Management System on Carleton Central and fill out an application. You will receive an email in June informing you when you may begin to apply for a TA position for the fall term. You will receive a similar email in later October informing you when you may start to apply for a TA position for the winter term. For the summer term, the application deadline is April 15. You need to be registered for at least one course in order to apply as a TA for that term. Also, if you are a first-year student, the system will not let you apply unless your grades are all in and you have an official “second-year standing”. This makes it difficult for those finishing their first year to obtain a Summer TAship. Therefore you may have to wait until the fall unless the instructor highly recommends you as a TA for his/her course. When applying for a TAship, make sure to list ALL courses that you are able to TA (i.e., received an “A+” in). List all courses in one line, in order of most preferred to least preferred. The more courses you list, the more valuable you will be to the School, as you are able to be slotted into a variety of courses. When applying, be sure to indicate which programming languages you are familiar with (e.g., JAVA, Python, C, C++, etc.) and your math skills, as this will help decide which courses you are best suited for.
First of all, make sure that you submit an application on time. The cutoff date will be mentioned in the email that you receive asking you to apply. The most difficult courses to find TAs for are the 4th and 3rd-year courses, as very few students have previously taken them. Therefore, it would be beneficial to list courses that you are able to TA in order of 4th year to 1st year since it is very easy to find TAs for courses such as COMP1405, COMP1406 and COMP1001. You can increase your chance of getting a TAship by including higher-level courses in your list. If, while taking a course, you have proven to your instructor that you are a very good student and well-qualified to TA, then feel free to approach that instructor and have them request you specifically to be a TA for their upcoming course. That could help increase your chances as well.
Unfortunately, no. While we cannot guarantee that every student will be assigned their first choice, providing more than one option increases the odds that you will be assigned to one of your preferences. In some cases, and in order to ensure that all courses are covered, students may be assigned to a course that is not on their list of preferences. The School makes every effort to match applicants to the course best suited to their abilities. There have been occasions where students are assigned to TA courses they did not list in their preferences because they received an “A+” in that course. Although this rarely happens, it may be required for courses that are difficult to staff with TAs. However, keep in mind that you will never be assigned a course that is not on your list of preferences in which you did not receive an A+.
When an applicant is offered a position and turns it down, this results in poor placements for other TAs and can negatively impact the learning experience for the students in the course. Please assist us in our matching efforts, and do NOT apply to be TA for a course if you are unsure or plan on declining an offer. If you no longer wish to be TA for a course, you should cancel your application before you are assigned to a course and also inform the associate director (Mark Lanthier) via email. If you are offered a position, you are expected to accept it. Applicants who decline an offer will likely not be considered for a TA position in the future.