askastudent

your student life specialists

Jul 29

the #1 obstacle to course enrolment for first years

Hi,

I am going into my  third year of my undergrad and I have up til now been very undesicive about what I wanted to do. I recently changed my major to sociology but I either need to take 2 minors or another major. I’d like to do a magor in anthropology (general) but the admissions requirement is that I need to take ANT100. I’ve tried to add it for the fall 2015 term but ACORN won’t let me, saying that enrollment is blocked. It doesn’t tell me why its blocked or what I can do about it. Is it because there is no more space available? I need to take ANT100 this year so I can apply for the major in the spring and I’m kind of freaking out. Do you have any suggestions for what do?

Thank you.

———————————————

hey there,

alright, time to listen up, folks – especially you, first years. if your enrolment is blocked on ACORN, that is ALMOST CERTAINLY because you don’t meet the enrolment control.

what the flying fU#% is an enrolment control, aska? listen carefully, wee ones, ’cause i don’t want to have to explain this more than once.

let’s take a look at ANT100. if we look at the course listing for ANT100 on the timetable, we’ll see that there are two lecture sections – one with an ‘R’ enrolment indicator, and one with a ‘P.’

the ‘R’ stands for ‘restricted,’ which means that if you don’t meet the enrolment control (i.e. the category of people the course is targeting), you are not allowed to enrol in the course. the ‘P’ stands for ‘priority,’ which means that you can enrol in the course if you don’t meet the control, but ONLY starting August 7th at 6am. ’til then, only the people who meet the control are allowed to enrol.

click on the “See Details” next to the enrolment indicator to figure out who meets the enrolment control. for ANT100, it’s all 1st year St. George students, all St. George ANT POSts, and all environmental anthropology minors.

if you don’t fit any of those categories, then you’re out of luck until August 7th, when the priority lifts for section L5101. you can’t enrol in L2001 at all, because it’s restricted.

HOWEVER, there is one loophole you can try (this won’t work if you’re a first year): check to see if any of the POSts listed under “See Details” are type 1 programs. type 1’s are programs with no admission requirements. when you add a type 1 POSt on ACORN, you’re enrolled in the program right away. SO if any of the POSts  are type 1’s, you can go from not meeting the enrolment control to meeting it, very fast.

you’re in luck with ANT100 – the environmental anthropology minor is a type 1 program. if you add yourself to it on ACORN, you should then be able to add yourself to ANT100 with no problem (you can drop the minor after you get into the course).

keep in mind that this method doesn’t work for EVERY course. HOWEVER, it is VITAL that you check the enrolment indicators on the timetable to make sure that you are actually eligible to sign up for the course. i don’t want to be getting any panicked questions about this from first years tomorrow, ya hear?

FINALLY, if you’re going into your third year, you have to be in two majors, a major and two minors, or one specialist to enrol in courses, so make sure you’re in one of those combinations BEFORE you try to enrol in any more courses.

best of luck with it!

cheers,

aska


Jul 28

what an intriguing proposition

First year question – is there a resource where I can input all the courses I want to take, and find out what POSt’s the majority of those courses fill?

———————————————

hey there,

no, there isn’t. in most cases, the department where you’re taking the most courses is probably the most likely candidate for the subject POSt for you. for example, if you want to take a boatload of philosophy courses and not much else, you probably want to be in a philosophy specialist.

however, that’s not always true. some POSts – like immunology, for example, require a whole bunch of courses from different departments.

i think this is a case of putting the cart before the horse. the best way to go about choosing POSts – in my opinion – is to think long and hard about what interests you. then look for a POSt that will let you study those interests using the calendar.

if you’re feeling really lost, wait until you’ve taken some first year courses. figure out which courses you like best. then go back to the course calendar and find a POSt (or POSts) that will let you take as many of those kinda of courses as possible. you don’t need to pick a POSt until after first year, so this is a totally legitimate way to go about it.

i’m not completely rejecting your idea, by the way. who knows, maybe someone at the Faculty of Arts & Science will read this post and a lightbulb will appear over their head, cartoon style. but for now, no such tool exists.

honestly, it can be kind of fun to peruse the course calendar and explore all the cool and quirky POSts out there. who knows, a bit of digging might even unearth an unknown passion.

gold panning

if you’re lucky, you may find a scintillating nugget of enjoyment among the dirt and sludge of university life!

good luck with navigating the arcane and outdated piece of HTML that is the calendar!

cheers,

aska


Jul 27

departments are all on summer vacation and i’m stuck in the 6

hi!

Im not a native spanish speaker but i did complete SPA220 the past school year. Can I take PRT100 or do i have to take PRT120?

Thanks!!

———————————————

hey there,

my instinct on this was to advise you to contact the Spanish department, but when i tried to help you out by calling them myself, no one was available. i gave up after trying four times. so, by all means, contact them to ask, but you might have a bit of trouble getting someone on the phone. no shade, by the way – i understand that people need a break from undergraduate brats every once in a while. sometimes i need a break from myself, to be honest. i’m just letting you know you may need to try a couple  of times.

it doesn’t say anywhere on the calendar or Spanish website that they would remove you from PRT100 just because you took SPA220, but again, i wouldn’t take any chances without talking to the department about it first. maybe you can shoot them an e-mail; you might have better luck contacting them that way.

sorry i couldn’t be of more help, but do let me know how it turns out!

all the best,

aska


Jul 22

bribing departments for credits

hello aska!

i am a  statistics major and this year i decided that i want to minor in geographic information systems. last time i checked sta220 is an exclusion to ggr270 but i’ve already taken sta220… is it still possible for me to take ggr270 or do i have to give up my dream of minoring in gis forever because of this one course???

thanks

———————————————

hey there,

two things might happen, neither of which would mean that you have to abandon your minor.

1) you go and talk to the geography department. you are super nice to them. you bring chocolate AND flowers. you put on your brightest smile and puppiest puppy eyes, and you ask if it would be possible to use STA220H1 towards the geographic information systems minor instead of GGR270H1. they say yes. wahoo! you don’t have to take GGR270H1.

2) you go to the geography department. you do the chocolate, flowers and puppy eyes. the absolutely HEARTLESS person you speak to says that unfortunately, STA220H1 cannot be used towards the GIS minor.

HOWEVER, you can still do the minor. you just have to take GGR270H1 as an “extra,” meaning a course that doesn’t count towards your degree credits or GPA, but will count towards your program requirements for the GIS minor.

either way, you can still do the minor. it’s just a question of whether you’ll have to do the extra course or not. do make sure to speak with the department to find out (you don’t actually have to bring chocolate and flowers. but it would be nice to smile).

cheers,

aska


Jul 22

the elderly in BIO120+130

Hi Aska! I was just wondering, if I don’t have priority, what are my chances of getting into BIO120+BIO130? Thanks!

———————————————

hey there,

as far as first year courses go, your chances aren’t bad. there’re about 1600 spots available in BIO120, and about 1500 in BIO130. and, yes, every single flippin first year in life science will be signing up for those courses, but the faculty has made space to accommodate them and, hopefully, a few upper years, too.

besides, we all know that there are going to be a handful of first years who completely miss the memo that first year course enrolment starts on July 30th. also, there will be people who entered into life science and realized they no longer want to do life science. you know how changeable those first years are.

and that leaves at least some space for you, the opportunistic upper year preying on those first year courses like a vulture on a bloody buffalo.

so if you log into ACORN at 6am on the dot on August 7th, you just might nab a spot on the carcass. it’s not guaranteed, so make sure you’ve got a backup – these non priority courses are always a gamble – but don’t lose hope just yet.

but maybe you shouldn’t be listening to me. i’m still holding out hope for a P* course with only 1 spot left. who’s the crazy one now?

cheers,

aska


Jul 21

an interesting course? in my program? it’s more likely than you think

>hi aska, I was wondering if you had any recommendations on interesting first year courses for someone who wants to take a wide variety of courses? thanks

———————————————

hey there,

good for you for asking this question. so many first years are afraid of taking lots of different courses. most people want to feel like they already have a handle on things when they come in to university, and very often that translates to people being open to only a select number of courses – the “right” courses.

problem is, there are no “right” courses, and the sooner you get excited about exploring everything on offer, the better a chance you have of finding something you love at university.

since i don’t know what stream you’re entering into and i don’t really know which areas of study i should be focusing on in terms of course recommendations, i’m just gonna give you aska’s GENERAL TIPS on how to enrol in courses as a first year:

1. make sure that you’re completing the prerequisites for whatever program(s) you’re interested in.

after first year, you’ll be required to sign up for a subject program of study (POSt). for that reason, it’s a good idea to take courses in first year which fill the requirements for the program(s) you’re interested in.

i want to be clear about this: you don’t HAVE to know which programs exactly you want to get into coming into first year. that kind of defeats the whole purpose of having a general first year. however, it’s a good idea to have some kind of plan going in – if that plan eventually changes, that’s not a big deal, but you have to try something out before you can change your mind about it.

if you’re thinking of a life science program, the requirements usually include: BIO120+130, CHM138+139, MAT135+136, and sometimes PHY131+132. if you’re thinking of doing a psychology program, you’ll want to take PSY100H1.

if you’re thinking of econ, you’ll want to take MAT133Y1 and ECO100Y1.

if you’re thinking of doing computer science, you’ll need CSC148H1 and CSC165H1.

some popular, foundational first-year courses for a variety of humanities and social science programs include: POL101Y1, SOC101Y1, ANT100Y1, ENG140Y1, CIN105Y1, CLA160H1 and PHL100Y1 (make sure to double-check the specific program you have in mind to see what the prerequisites are).

2. start thinking about breadth requirements

you may have noticed that no matter which program you’re interested in, you’ll still have some space left over to take other courses. you may want to think about filling those spaces with courses that fill a breadth requirement or two.

every course in the faculty of arts & science will fill at least one breadth requirement. depending on your program, it’ll be really easy for you to fill some breadth requirements, and tougher to fill others. science students will have no trouble filling breadth requirements 4 and 5, while humanities students will have a lot of courses in breadth requirement 1, and social science courses tend to be in breadth categories 2 and 3.

if you’re a humanities/social science student looking to fill your 4th and 5th group of breadth requirements, take a look at some intro. science courses i recommended here.

if you’re a science student, those intro. humanities/social science courses that i listed above are good places to start looking.

finally, just take one lazy sunday off to get to know the timetable. go in with an open mind and explore anything that strikes your fancy. the faculty of arts & science has so many options available, including a whole bunch that have probably never crossed your mind.

3. just do what you feel, man

if you have any space left after taking into consideration your program requirements and breadth requirements, then just indulge yourself in some wish fulfilment. want to take a 200-level intro. to European Studies course? you got it. always wanted to learn Estonian? now you can.

you never know – these intro. courses could lead to a minor or even a second major that will complement the program(s) you originally set your eyes on.

i realize that i didn’t recommend that many specific courses in this post, but that’s because i don’t want to limit you – what you find interesting will depend on your personality and – duh – your interests. explore those. find weird and obscure courses on the timetable. take that leap of faith and sign up for the ones that surprise you. you may just end up enjoying one of them.

good luck on July 30th!

peace,

aska


Jul 21

course enrolment, or, a short story of a fight to the death

How big are 2nd year psych courses?? Specifically psy220.. I’m just concerned that because I dont have priority for the courses they’ll be all filled up by the time priority drops !

———————————————

hey there,

well, the fall lecture section has 188 spaces, 51 of which are now taken. i’m guessing that once second year course enrolment starts, those 137 spaces will fill up pretty quickly.

BUT don’t start punching your computer screen and tearing your hair out by the fistful just yet. there are still two lecture sections left in the winter session, in case you need to resort to them. both of them have 188 spots too, and they’re almost completely empty at this point.

realistically speaking, i would make sure to have a backup, but there are three lecture sections of almost 200 spots each, so if you log into ACORN at 6am on August 7th, you just might get in.

and in this time of stress and peril, i’d just like to remind everyone to breathe deeply and evenly and try not to get too worked up by course enrolment. remember: no matter how excited you are about whatever course it is, come December, you’re going to wish you never signed up.

all the best,

aska


Jul 21

“satisfactory academic progress”

Hey! OSAP put me on probation last year, holding my funding for a bit until I gave them a letter explaining my unsatisfactory academic progress. I got good grades and all, but I only completed 3.5 FCE, which meant I was still “first year” which they didn’t like. Anyway, I wrote the letter and got my funding etc. Took 4.5 FCE last year and now I;m at a total of 8.0 FCE. Which I thought was enough for 3rd year but isn’t. Will they cancel my funding this year because I still didn’t progress? Ty

wanted to add to the previous question I sent about OSAP: the only condition for the lifting of my OSAP probation, as far as I can remember, was that I had to pass all my courses, which I did.

———————————————

hey there,

i couldn’t find any downtown campus resources on this, but UTSC says that as long as you HADa full-time course load (3.0 FCEs+ on the downtown campus) in the previous session, you’re “making progress towards your degree.” if you took (and passed) 4.5 FCEs last year, that definitely qualifies you.

however, if they had an issue with you not progressing to the next year level in the past, i’m not sure that wouldn’t happen again. i can’t find any evidence that it would, but i wouldn’t want to risk it.

i’d highly recommend you have a chat with a financial advisor at your college/faculty registrar’s office. they’ll know for sure, and if they think there’s a chance you could get into trouble again, they could counsel you on what to do to avoid it.

all the best,

aska


Jul 17

approaching profs doesn’t get easier with age

Hi Aska,

I recently graduated from St. George with a BA, but I wasn’t really sure at the time where I wanted to go from there. After giving it some thought, I’ve decided that I’d like to try for an MA and apply to grad schools for the 2016/2017 school year. My biggest concern, however, is not having the academic references for my applications; I’ve always been a shy person and thus haven’t really connected with my profs in as meaningful a way as other, more outgoing students. I don’t want this to be a hindrance, however, so I’m seriously considering registering for a few more courses as a non-degree student so that I can build more contacts and thus have the requisite number of referees when I’m prepping my applications. I’d also like to take courses outside of my usual comfort zone in order to have the breadth of knowledge that grad schools like to see, so it’s not all about the profs.

I’m wondering how the non-degree enrollment process works, which is why writing and seeking your sagely wisdom. If I were able to get into a 400-level seminar come mid-August, would the prerequisites that I accumulated from my BA carry over so that I wouldn’t have to worry about being removed? Will I be able to take whatever courses I’d like from the department of my old major, provided there is space in them? Or do I have to start from the drawing board and abide by the same prerequisites that first-year students are faced with?

Also, how many credits are non-degree students allowed to take in a given year? Full-time degree students take five, but is this different for non-degrees? I personally don’t know how many courses I want to take, as I have to wait and see which ones will be available in August, so I’d like to
know whether any limitations exist beforehand so I can conduct my planning accordingly.

P.S. Do you have any tips about building up relationships with profs so that they could serve as potential grad school referees? I’ve only ever gone out of my way to do this for one prof because that prof taught material that I really loved, and so it was easy for me to engage with them about it. Obviously, though, I’m going to have to get to know profs whose interests don’t necessarily align with mine if I want to have a shot at grad school, so it’d be super helpful to have some advice as to how I could go about doing that successfully. I’m determined not to let my social inhibitions get in the way of my goals, so I’m going to try very hard to make my return to the classroom worth it this time around.

———————————————

hey there,

whoo, that’s a bit of reading right there. keeping my mind sharp for September, huh? i love it.

coming back as a non-degree student is super easy. if you’ve been away for less than a year, you can just sign up for courses on August 14th, make the minimum payment to register, and you’re all done! well, except attending the classes. and passing them. all that fun stuff.

if you’ve been away for at least a year, you would have to go to your college registrar’s office, fill out a form and pay $25 to get your account reactivated. then you could sign up for courses, make the minimum payment, attend classes, etc.

if you already took prerequisite courses for the courses you’re interested in, you won’t have to take them again. all courses you take at uoft work the same way, regardless of whether you’re a degree student. they show up on your transcript, even if you’re non-degree. they affect your GPA, can count towards program requirements, all that stuff. you can also take as many credits as you like in a year.

now, about graduate school: you DO NOT need to be best buds with professors to ask for an academic reference.

bffls

there is no need to feel this way about a prof. you’re asking for a letter, not a diamond ring

stay away from me

in fact, it’s okay if you feel this way about the prof, as long as you are nice and you did well in their course

in fact, if you’re looking to do non-degree just to get closer with a professor or two, you may want to reconsider and save yourself a bit of money.

in fact, profs don’t have to remember you at all to write you a recommendation letter. as long as you can prepare a really solid e-mail, you’re good. the important thing is that you ask professors in whose class you did well, and where the class is reasonably relevant to the master’s program you’re interested in.

as a general guideline, this is how you should go about crafting a request for a reference letter:

start off by introducing yourself, in case the prof doesn’t remember you. they’re busy and important! they don’t remember you! and if by some chance they do remember you, they will feel flattered by the fact that you thought they were busy and important enough to reintroduce yourself. make sure to include your name, the course you took for them, and a bit about the program you’re applying to.

then, make your request. try and be as concise as possible. explain exactly what they’ll have to do, and when. let them know why you’re asking them specifically. it’s a good idea to remind them what mark you got in the course. then, upload a copy of an assignment you completed in the class that you did really well on. that way, they have a refresher on the kind of academic work you do, and they can write a more accurate letter.

make sure to follow up with reminders (but don’t nag), and then maybe get them a box of chocolates after to thank them for taking time out of their busy busy professor life for you.

this is a lot to think about, so if you ARE still thinking of re-registering, you may want to make an appointment with your college registrar’s office to make absolutely certain, before you shell out the $25.

best of luck and i hope you get into grad school!

aska


Jul 17

just give me a stRAIGHT ANSWER, MAN

Hello!! I’m somewhat seeking advice on what I should take this upcoming first year at UTSG with many worries… First question: Is MAT133 extremely difficult? I’m having a hard time choosing a second major (Stuck between English or Economics) and it seems that MAT133 is a requirement for an eco major. Second question: which one seems to be a better major, Economics or English? I did very well in HS english and have req for any math programs but im afraid i wont do too well? pls halp pls

———————————————

hey there,

i always tell people not to ask me how difficult stuff is, but then i answer the question anyway, so maybe i’m bringing these questions upon myself.

listen, there’s not much i can tell you that can be truly helpful. trust me: i GET that you’re afraid, and you just want someone to tell you how it is so you don’t have to go in blind. unfortunately, i really don’t think i can do that.

i could tell you that i found first-year calc pretty difficult. i could tell you that i finished with a 96% in grade 12 calculus and got a 77% average in MAT135+136. however, those things reflect one person’s experience. i couldn’t tell you if it’s a typical or atypical one, and there’s no guarantee that you will have the same experience. you may be smarter than i am (probably), or less smart (less likely).

besides, there were all sorts of factors that affected that mark – by December, i realized i didn’t want to continue in a life science program, so i did worse in 136 than i had done in 135 because i wasn’t invested anymore. also, the class was really early in the morning, which is never easy for me, meaning i missed more than a few classes.

also, MAT135/6 is not exactly the same course as MAT133, so it’s not a perfect comparison.

what might be more helpful is to look over some materials from the actual course and decide for yourself how hard it looks. fortunately, MAT133Y1 is well-documented online. here’s some great information including average text marks in 2014-15. here is the syllabus.

look those over. reflect on how difficult you found calculus in grade 12, and on how well you did. finally, think about whether you enjoyed it.

at the end of the day, if you really enjoy the material, you WILL be motivated to succeed. it’s that simple. so if you don’t really like math but you feel like you have to do it, don’t. if you sign up for MAT133 and sit through the first couple of classes and find you’re not liking it, just drop it (the last day you can drop Y courses from your academic record in the Fall/Winter is February 12th).

loving it won’t make it easy, but it will make it doable.

and from one esoteric question to another: what qualifies as a “better” major in your eyes? easier? more enjoyable? more interesting? more employable? because that all depends on you, and your interests, and how well you do, and luck, to a large extent.

not to beat a dead horse, but if you like something, you will do well in it. and if you do well in it, opportunities will come your way.

ALSO, if you REALLY can’t decide, you can always do a double major. actually, you’re not allowed to do just one major. you could do an english specialist or an econ specialist, but one major isn’t enough to get you a degree. so if you can’t decide between the two, that may be the way to go.

oh, and by the way – you have all of first year to make these decisions. so if you just wanna take some first-year econ and english courses just to see which you prefer, that’s okay. you have until next summer to figure it all out. you can do it.

aska


Jul 16

tbh i didn’t know that ‘children’s fashion photographer’ was a thing

Hello,

I am currently a student at U of T who has some questions about transfer credits. This past year I did an exchange with U of T at Sciences Po in Paris, and there I have greatly developed my career as a children’s fashion photographer, and working very frequently/ and am sought out increasingly in France, Germany, Italy etc and being in Canada be detrimental to my growing career as a top children’s fashion photographer. At the same time I want and find it crucial to complete my studies. My registrar said that I can only do 5 transfer credits (exchange & online) that will count to my degree (I need 5.5-6 more edits to complete it), however I found information on the U of T website that I believe stated you could do a maximum of 10 transfer credits. Do you happen to know anything about this. I am hoping there is a way to complete my degree online as my career and life over here in Europe is thriving.

Thank you very, and all the best.

———————————————

hey there,

if you want to get a degree at uoft, at least half your credits have to be uoft credits – which, yes, translates to 10.0 FCEs. so that means that all of the transfer credits you have combined – including exchange courses, online courses and transfer credit from high school or other universities, etc. – have to be under 10.0. so that’s one restriction.

the second rule is: if you’re in the faculty or arts & science, the MAXIMUM amount of exchange credits you can have is 7.5 FCEs.

i’m not sure how many transfer credits you have already, but those would be the restrictions you’d have to abide by. also: listen to whatever your registrar said. i guarantee you they’re right.

and hey, if you can’t do all the rest of your degree online, maybe you can just wait a year or two, finish your degree, and then go back to Paris or wherever you need to be. i guarantee Europe will still be there when you’re ready.

cheers,

aska


Jul 16

i mean the dean’s list is cool and all but don’t cry over it

Hello, for the dean’s list is it 5 courses or 5 credits that you have to take? I took 4.5 credits with 6 courses with 4.0 GPA so would I qualify? Thanks

———————————————

hey there,

you’re considered for the dean’s list at the end of every session where you complete your fifth, tenth or fifteenth credits, so if you only have 4.5 at this point, you wouldn’t be considered.

HOWEVER, you would be considered in the NEXT session that you passed the 5.0 credit mark – not to fear.

(also, it’s literally just a piece of paper, so i really wouldn’t get my liederhosen in a twist about not getting it right away. as long as you’re doing well for you, that’s all that matters).

cheers,

aska


Jul 15

sneaky, hidden extra courses

I’m going into my second year, and already have 5.5 100-level credits, but I really want to take LAT10H1 and LAT102H1. Since LAT102H1 will be designated an “extra” course, can I take 6.0 courses in the second term and LAT102H1 on top of it, or does it still count as part of the maximum 6.0 FCE per term? If it does, is there a specific process to asking my registrar to let me take an extra course (I’m pretty sure I read you can take 7 with permission)? Thanks!

———————————————

hey there,

extra” courses don’t count towards your degree credit and GPA, but they still exist. you still have to take them once you enrol in them, you still have to pay for them, you still have to pull all-nighters for them (ugh). so unfortunately they wouldn’t allow you to bypass the 6.0 limit.

if you want to enrol in over 6.0 FCEs, including extras, you’ll have to talk to your college registrar’s office and request a course overload.

good question, though. that’s a first. you have a special knack for creatively bypassing rules – i’m sure it’ll serve you well in the work world.

cheers,

aska


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