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Sunday, September 25, 2022

Columns

Students should get what they pay for


When I made the decision to enroll at a university immediately following high school, as opposed to attending Lone Star Community College near my house or Houston Community College in the city, it was with that expectation that I was paying extra for better resources and classes taught by well-trained professors.

English teaching assistant Lam Dickson hard at work teaching his English 1304 class. Dickson and other TAs get paid considerably less than tentured professors, yet student still have to pay full price for the course regardless of who is teaching it.  / Nichole Taylor/The Daily Cougar

English teaching assistant Lam Dickson is hard at work teaching his English 1304 class. Dickson and other TA’s get paid considerably less than tentured professors, yet student still have to pay full price for the course regardless of who is teaching it. | Nichole Taylor/The Daily Cougar

Then there was the recent mess with English teaching assistants, and while they feel cheated for the lack of pay and having to pay to teach to boot, imagine how the students feel. Imagine paying upwards of $1,000 for three credit hours of ENGL 1303 Freshman Composition I only to find out the class is being taught by a student — a graduate student but a student, nonetheless.

Students shouldn’t have to pay full prices for classes for taught by graduate students, teaching assistants, TA’s or whatever you want to call them. Since the school is not allowed to list TA’s as instructors in the course registration catalog, students aren’t aware that they are enrolling in a TA’s’ course until the first day of class.

This is not to devalue the hard work and effort these graduate students put into maintaining a curriculum, grading assignments and conducting a lecture. It is amazing that these TA’s manage to teach a course and prepare for their classes, alongside managing other aspects of their personal lives.

That aside, if the University is not paying TA’s professor-level salaries for graduate students to teach these classes, it is only fair that students shouldn’t have to pay full price to take the courses. The English TA’s were earning between $9,600 and $11,200 annually; for the sake of argument, we’ll split the difference and say $10,400 annually or $867 monthly. In the course of a five-month semester either in the spring (January to May) or fall (August to December), the TAs earn $4,333. If the average student pays, say, $1,000 per three-credit hour course, regardless of the class size, the class is paid for and then some. With all of those savings from not having to pay a professor to teach these courses, you have to wonder where the money is going.

Many students on campus are funding their own education by attending school and working, and many others have to pay off loans with interest after graduation. The financial burden of attending college is heavy enough that we shouldn’t have to foot the bill for another student’s learning experience. English senior Daniella Singer said students should pay for what they get, and if what they get is a TA, there should be a discount.

“Teaching assistants are not as qualified to teach, as say, a professor who holds a doctorate,” Singer said. “I think that it only makes sense to pay half price for a class taught by a teaching assistant.”

The only requirements for becoming a TA are an undergraduate degree or its equivalent in addition to passing an English language proficiency test and admittance into a graduate program, which the TA’s have had to pay fees toward, so we’re paying them to teach us, and they are having to pay to teach us.

Credits earned from classes taught by professors and TA’s have the same value in regards to the student’s grade point average and graduation. Students pay per course credit and pay the same for the same course and may even receive the same experience, but it’s the idea that one person is paying for a class taught by a student as another taught by a professor. It’s like going to a cosmetology school and paying a student the same price for a cut and style as you would for a master stylist. This mindset undermines the college experience and the value of professors.

Ciara Rouege is an advertising junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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