Your experience in dealing with meanspirited TAs

Hello everyone!

Well, I decided to enroll in an astronomy class this summer, instead of biochem, as suggested by others here. I though I could use the extra practice in doing light and wavelengh computations and in reviewing those physics concepts, not to mention it seemed like a really fun topic to do. The class itself was really neat and fun, and I really recommend it to everyone, but the experience was tainted by a really mean spirited TA. I really do not get why people can be so rude. I haven’t even spoken to this cat yet and she targeted me for her wraith. I guess maybe I was selected out by her to direct her insecurities or something, because I havent had any conversations to “offend” her by any means throughout the semester. The last straw that verified it to me of her character today, was when I turned my test in and gave her a smile and said thanks, she looked pasted me and rolled her eyes, and proceeded to be courteous to the next person, as a way of indirectly stating to me of her detest for me for no apparent reason. Some people are such asses. How do some of you deal with people like this?

Rant over thanks for listening.

Have you tried a different hairstyle?..sorry just kidding.

I have a TA who made up his mind early in the semester that he would make sure I got average or less on every quiz, assignment etc.

I have thought of every possible way to deal with this but at the end of the day I realize I am SOL. I just have one more week to put up with him. Unfortunately, because of him I may get a bad grade. But then I think my record should also speak to this anomaly - I’ll have all A’s except for this one class.

I think you may have no other option than to suck it up and bear it - it is highly unlikely an instructor will change a TA when the course is underway. Besides, most TA’s are assigned by the department and not the instructor.

two thoughts

  1. welcome to the world of dealing with people. If you procede with a career in medicine you will do A LOT of it. and believe me not all of them are pleseant. sometimes they are nasty because they are sick and hurt - sometime they just are.

  2. you may have to brush it off and be as pleasent as you can in spite of the TA - try to make the best of the class inspite of it. But be cautious that the grading is fair. If you are feeling like you are being singled out an being biased against in grading - I would go armed with real data (e.g. compative info from others in class) to the prof.

You need not only a thick skin but a strong spine and heart in this circumstance. By “strong spine and heart,” I mean that if YOU know in your mind and heart that you are smart and capable, this TA’s conclusion that you are not either of those things does not need to affect you. Stay strong and confident in yourself, shrug off the petty slights, and as others have said, be very very vigilant that the TA’s personal prejudice against you does not translate into academic prejudice.


Just got back from vacation, thus the delayed response. My input: don’t expect niceties, kindness, etc. from TAs or profs. It’s a bonus if they treat you well, but if not, just behave in a professional manner.

If a TA or prof’s attitude is annoying but irrelevant to your grade, just suck it up and ignore it as best you can. A fellow student wisely said: you have to do it anyway; it’s a hoop, they put it up, jump through. So just smile and jump through, even if it’s a flaming hoop!

If, on the other hand, something will affect your grade, then you have to say something. Age, in this circumstance, is a definite benefit. I have taken courses where I had no problem discussing issues and what I expected as an outcome. All involved the dreaded “group project,” and the others in my group(much younger than I) were terrified to complain to the prof or fellow students. But at my age I want my money’s worth for this education and will politely but firmly make my point.

Two examples: In one group project a member did not participate at all. There were three weeks to go before the presentation and I emailed her, cc’ing the entire group, that if she did not participate or contribute her name would not be on the paper and she would not be allowed to present with the group. The other group members worried about “what would the prof think/do,” and “we’ll get in trouble, we’re supposed to work together,” etc. My opinion was that what the professor did with a student who had no project was not our problem it was his, and as to working together, if the student were in an actual work environment she’d be fired (which is, in essence, what we would be doing). End result: slacker pulled it together and did her share.

Second example: For a group project (web interfaced database) others were working on MS SQL database and I created a website. I could not load the site onto my designated university web page (due to associated software – how nice of the prof to tell us about that ahead of time!). Started over and created a second site with different software- took it to the computer lab and it wasn’t supported. TA told me I would have to debug it line by line. I flat out refused and said, “You see the effort and time we have put into this project. I will create screen shots of this site for the presentation, but if the final result yields only three functioning links it had better not adversely affect our grades.” We ended up doing just that: screen shots of the great website, clunker for the project with an explanation of the software issues, and the lowest grade was a B+.

Hope this helps.