GTF gets paid for school | Oregon Daily Emerald

Published January 25th, 2011 for the Oregon Daily Emerald.


When Andrea Anthony receives a tuition statement from the University, she doesn’t see charges. In fact, she sees a paycheck.

Although she’s technically still getting a degree, Anthony is defraying the costs of her finance Ph.D. by serving as a graduate teaching fellow.

As a GTF, Anthony is expected to teach undergraduate classes, assist in research work for the finance faculty and take the necessary classes to complete her advanced degree. Adding on to this workload is her daily commute from Salem to Eugene, which Anthony said eats up two precious hours of her day.

More than 3,000 University GTFs share Anthony’s responsibilities and commitments, but, like Anthony, they do see some benefits to the workload. In addition to getting paid for their job, they don’t have to pay tuition for being full-time students, which, as a graduate student, is only nine credits, and receive full health-care coverage.

Many undergraduate students think the only type of GTF is the one they see in the classroom; however, there are three types of GTFs: administrative, teaching and research. Within the types of GTFs, there are levels. Level one requires enrollment in a degree program; level two requires a master’s or a completed exam toward a doctorate degree; and level three students are doctoral students who have advanced to candidacy to teach their own courses. Every GTF is appointed a Full-Time Equivalency, which corresponds to their total workload per term. The minimum FTE is 88 hours per term, and the minimum monthly stipend a GTF receives is $519.07. The stipend is prorated to the standing level, FTE and varies by department.

Steve McClellan, a history GTF, finds mentorship in the professors in his department.

“They have your responsibilities and more,” he said.

Anthony is a second-year grad student and a level one GTF. This quarter she is acting as a research and teacher’s assistant, although last quarter she conducted her own lab.

“I don’t look at it as a job. I look at it as an opportunity,” Anthony said. “It is not only to help you with school but to gain experience for your resume.”

Being a GTF doesn’t only ease student debt, but it also works as an opportunity to explore possible career choices. Anthony has always wanted to be a professor.

“I hope to do research, teach classes and work with students,” Anthony said. “I want to be a teacher that enjoys teaching and not one that just does it because they have to.”

Although Anthony knew she wanted to be a professor upon enrolling in the University, some GTFs, such as computer and information science GTF Ben Mood, do not know what to expect from the teaching part of the job. However, upon finding that he had more freedom to teach than he originally thought, Mood discovered he had developed a passion for teaching.

Making the jump from student to teacher requires practice, which Anthony experienced first hand.

“The first day is very nerve-wracking, wondering what the students will think of you when you first walk in the door,” Anthony said.

To adjust, she took advantage of the Teaching Effectiveness Program. The program offers services such as videotaping a class and sending out midterm evaluations via Blackboard.

“It was a huge exponential learning of how to teach, what works and what doesn’t,” she said.

Being a full-time student, Anthony takes upper division courses with fellow GTFs. The course load on top of her GTF responsibilities can turn into a juggling act during busy parts of the term.

“Midterms and finals are the hardest because you do have your own classes but you’re helping other students with theirs,” Anthony explained, adding that the workload requires good time management. “You find a balance on how to get homework done and teaching lesson plans done.”

Two hours isn’t the only thing she has given up to be a GTF. Before starting her Ph.D. program in finance, she spent four years negotiating airplane sales for Boeing. Anthony chose to go back to school because of her desire to be a professor.

“I didn’t want to just have a book knowledge of business. I wanted to have really done it and know what it felt like to do the things we talk about in class every day,” she said.

Despite her experiences and detached living arrangements in Salem, she still feels part of the student body.

“I don’t see myself as a faculty member, considering I dress like an undergrad and look like an undergrad,” Anthony said.

She also frequents the library and Student Recreation Center on campus, taking one physical education class every day among undergraduates.

Although Anthony might look like an undergrad and work out at the rec center like an undergrad, she doesn’t pay like one.

“When you already had to pay for your undergraduate, it’s nice to come into grad school with the idea you don’t have to pay to be here,” Anthony said. “I feel lucky to be given the opportunity to GTF. It allows me to focus on learning, being a good student and not worrying about how I’m going to pay for everything.”

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