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Apply to TA-ship or seek other employment?


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I'm a master's student in a professional MA program (trying to keep the door open for a possible PhD, but it's not my main plan right now).  For next year I do need an income source of at least a few thousand dollars over the year to avoid having to take out any private loans.  I've found out that there are some TA positions open in the department next year and a few professors have asked me about applying, so I think I have a shot at one.  However, I'm not sure if I should take one if offered, or even apply.


First question out of the way...would it seriously hurt my rep in the department if I was awarded a TA-ship and turned it down for a better opportunity?  If I would essentially be locked in, I don't know if I should even apply.


It would probably be the most lucrative option available to me.  However, it would be a sole instructorship for a language course (so class every day), and that idea is pretty unappealing to me -- I have taught children and hated it, and while I know that undergrads are different from 11 year olds, commanding a classroom is not one of my strengths.  The idea of going into a classroom every day again kind of fills me with dread, actually.  There is also a concurrent course that all TAs have to take which doesn't count towards my credits needed for graduation, unless I drop one of my concentrations (one is a professional plan, and the other is an intellectual interest "In case I do want to pursue a PhD/research" field).  Between the time commitment and the extra class, it would limit the number of classes I could take without over-extending myself.  If I keep taking classes at my current pace, I can move off campus and finish up with part-time online classes after my third semester, but with TA-ing I'd either be on campus an extra semester or need to drop my other concentration.  For various reasons I do need to be careful about over-extending myself and maintain a lighter load than might be considered average (ADHD, desire to devote time to professional activities). 


I think it would work better for my schedule if I'm able to find some other on-campus or off-campus job, even if the total paycheck isn't as much.  There are some project/research assistant roles in other areas that have later application and notification dates, I have been doing some remote contracting for my previous employer that could develop into more regular hours, there's an internship office with my program that I could work with to see if they have anyone that does paid internships, etc.  However, I won't know for sure if I can find such a job by the TA deadline or even the time that they choose the TAs.  Is it considered acceptable to apply and decline?  Or to back out after accepting but with plenty of time for them to offer it to another runner up?  If not, should I apply and suck it up if I do get a position so that I have some guaranteed income and no risk of needing to dip into investments or private loans, or not apply and take my chances?

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I'd go ahead and apply for the TA. 

If you end up doing a PhD there will be TAing involved. Maybe learning how you cope with teaching undergrads whilst an M.S. will give a better indication of if you really want to do that PhD...

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