Studying in an Indian education system, we hardly come across any type of scholarship or assistantship opportunities as a student during our undergraduate program. Receiving funding for your education as an international student can serve as a stepping stone by reducing your financial burden. Typically, there is a major difference between Scholarship and Assistantship. Every application submitted by an international student is considered for a merit-based scholarship which offers the student a fee-waiver option without demanding any student effort. This scholarship is solely based on the University policy and ideally, top 10-15% admitted students are eligible for an upfront scholarship. It is a reward for an academically outstanding student coupled with their holistic performance.
There are broadly three categories of Assistantships namely:
- Teaching Assistantship (TA): This position is appropriate for students who wish to gain teaching experience by assisting the professor at their university. It involves preparing lectures/tutorials, conducting classes in the absence of the professor, delivering undergraduate laboratory courses, creating tests/quizzes, assigning grades by correcting the laboratory journals.
- Graduate Assistantship (GA): This position is available in departments offering students an opportunity to participate in departmental projects as well as assisting the faculty members in teaching graduate students.
- Research Assistantship (RA): Professors in the University receive grants by the US Government or other agencies for conducting research. There are positions available under the faculty for students who are equipped with the necessary research potential and have similar research interests.
Assistantship in the US universities is a common form of financial aid by not only providing a student with a financial support but also an opportunity to build their network in the foreign country. Practically, students are able to work at an Assistantship position in their second semester. The common eligibility criteria for the position is high level of English proficiency as demonstrated through TOEFL/IELTS and maintaining an overall grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 in the enrolled program for the first semester. Depending from University to University, a student may earn around $500-$1000 per month.
Professional Way to Approach the Faculty:
1. Conduct thorough research about the Department, its Faculty members and the funded projects.
2. Schedule an appointment with the Faculty member to explore their ongoing projects.
3. Build your resume based on those grounds and then approach one of the Professors.
4. Work voluntarily under the Faculty member whose research interest overlaps with yours and attend their group meetings.
5. Exhibit your qualities and skillset by working on their projects by reading relevant high-impact journals and articles.
6. Coordinate with the Faculty’s existing Graduate Assistants to understand the profile that he/she is looking for.
Keep in mind that it all depends on the University’s available funds and the position openings for you to be hired. But always stay on your toes even if you need to work beyond office hours to prove your competence. If you are diligent, you should surely exploit these Assistantship opportunities to fund your education which will not only cover your monthly expenditure but also make you proficient in your area of interest.
Imperial Overseas Education Consultants