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Cornell University

Undergraduate Consultants

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Find out about our teaching and research and teaching fellowships for graduate students.

The CTI offers International Teaching Assistants (ITAs) currently enrolled in ITAP courses the opportunity to meet with Undergraduate Consultants one hour per week to enhance their communication skills, develop cultural awareness, and get acquainted with Cornell undergraduates.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are Undergraduate Consultants an important part of the ITAP?

  • There is a need for a coordinated network of support and resources for ITAs.
  • ITAs who engage in authentic conversation with undergraduate students in a pressure-free environment make communication gains.
  • Undergraduate and ITA relationships and partnerships need to be enhanced and strengthened.
  • ITA communication must be reviewed by the population they teach in order to initialize feedback and ultimately achieve greater effectiveness.

What are the duties of Undergraduate Consultants?

In addition to meetings with graduate student pairs, some Undergraduate Consultants also assist CTI instructors in ITAP classes.

Consultants help ITAs develop their informal/improvisational communication abilities by encouraging them to explore idioms, tell stories, and discuss personal or topical issues. Consultants also act as "sounding boards" for ITAs who seek undergraduates' opinions about specific teaching practices and cultural norms. When possible, Consultants also attend ITAP social events, and many continue their friendships with ITAs after their official work has ended.

How can I become a Undergraduate Consultant?

For more information on becoming an undergraduate consultant, please contact the CTI office at 607-255-7224 or email

When are Consultants hired?

Most Consultants are hired in the fall semester of the academic year and many stay involved with the program for successive semesters.

How are Consultants trained?

At the beginning of the academic semester, Consultants participate in an orientation and training session in which they practice strategies for critical feedback, develop awareness of the dynamics of cross-cultural communication, and learn techniques for helping ITAs improve their communication in an informal setting.

Undergraduate Consultants also participate in two other full staff meetings per semester. During these meetings they receive additional training and feedback and work together to create authentic materials for graduate students in the ITAP to use via the ITAP Blackboard site. Each semester Consultants meet with their supervisor and all Consultants are encouraged to contact their supervisor at any time to check in or ask for guidance.

What materials do Consultants receive?

Each Undergraduate Consultant receives a training manual and access to the ITAP Blackboard site.

How long are Undergraduate Consultants employed?

A semester of employment for the Undergraduate Consultant program is estimated to be 8-10 weeks of the semester due to time taken out for hiring, training and university holidays.

How are Consultants paired with ITAs?

Undergraduate Consultants are matched with a pair of ITAs based on how their scheduling information best matches that of the ITAs for available freetime periods. Requests for gender or specific Consultants are honored but are not guaranteed.

When do Consultants meet with ITAs?

Upon receiving one or more pairs of ITA partners, Undergraduate Consultants personally initiate contact and coordinate weekly meetings with each ITA pair. Times and locations are agreed upon mutually by the Consultant and ITAs.

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