your student life specialists

Oct 28


Dear Aska, Do you know any places where I can get a pile of GOOS paper (good on one side) without much effort? Tired of digging through recycling papers. Thanks!


hey there,

excellent question! what an environmentally conscious human you are. good on ya. you get aska’s seal of approval.

the one place i can think of is those trays of GOOS paper by the computers and printers at Robarts? d’you know what i’m taking about? i’m sure other libraries have them too, but i’m a Robarts girl*, myself.

also, if you have an in with any administrative offices on campus (like registrar’s offices, department offices, etc.) maybe you can very sweetly ask them if they’re looking to unload some of the paper that’s inevitably piled up in their office. goodness knows they produce enough of it.

so yeah, maybe dig through a library/office or two before resorting to the recycling. you’ll probably get fewer funny looks.



* i mean, INFINITE BEING OF LIGHT AND WISDOM. not a girl. definitely not.

Oct 28

getting to work in social work

Hi aska!

So I have officially completed my credits and will be graduating in November. Yay! I decided third year that I wanted to do an MSW and I didn’t want to be taking a full course load and working on applications, so here I am. I decided to take one more credit this year (two f courses) because I am so use to being in school and I can’t imagine working extra hours at my part time job, its brutal! So I saved up money to be academically involved in something for a year.

Anyways, I prepared to apply for my MSW I was aiming at UofT or either Laurier. I got my recommendations and everything! I actually volunteered A LOT over the past 6 years because I never really gave anything up after I did my 40 hours for high school, I am VERY involved in the community, kind of made me realize my aspirations for the field. So they look at your last year for admissions. I have A’s and B’s and then I have a C- … in a course that I clearly should have dropped. Yet, my final year GPA stands at 3.15, and admissions ask for a 3.0 so I figured I was okay.

I also have to work and go to school to pay for tuition… it really sucks but I have always been able to clearly manage a B average which is what I THOUGHT I always needed. One of the social workers at a site I volunteered at went to UofT and she told me she got in with the 3.0 cutoff range. So I went to see the psyche department head to make sure I have all the necessary credits after I checked on degree explorer because there were some changes in the new catalogue that freaked me out. He asked me what my plans were and I told him and he basically told me I won’t get in because my grades were too low…

I understand the program is competitive and I do have other aspects to my application, for one thing I’ve been extremely involved in the community and have a part-time job where I manage 20-25 hours a week. He told me I should apply outside of Ontario to other provinces because I will have a better chance of getting in. I can’t afford the move, the move to Waterloo would be costly enough. He recommended that I do not work and take a few more courses to boost my final 10 credits but credits cost money that I get from working…

?So I guess this is the end for me?

Lost and hopeless


hey there,

first things first: get a second opinion.

i’m not saying the head of the psych department doesn’t know what they’re talking about – they definitely know more than i do* – but as a rule of thumb, i always like to get advice from the source.

so, the first thing i would do is talk to someone at factor-intenwash, preferably someone who works admissions, and see if you can get a feel for how competitive a 3.15 GPA would be. then, at least, you have a second opinion and you can make a decision that’s a bit more informed.

if you meet the requirements, i would apply. what have you got to lose? you don’t know for certain what will happen until you actually get the admission result, right? as 2013 me would say, #yolo.

however, i do think that it’s important to consider alternatives, whether that be taking a few extra credits next year to boost your GPA, applying out of province, etc. the faculty of social work also recommends possibly completing a B.S.W. and applying to uoft from there.

i completely get the concern about money. being a student and working and trying to do well in school and volunteering and blah blah blah is really, REALLY hard.

unfortunately, every option you’re looking at is going to cost some money. some of the options will be more expensive than others, but if you want the master’s degree, you may have to bite the bullet and go for a pricier option.

if you don’t have the money now, i would look into alternative financing. consider applying for osap if you’re not already getting it, and take a look at the funding options available at some of those out-of-province schools that offer M.S.W.’s.

there are ways to get around the money issue (at least partially). osap lists a few of them, but if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by that list and don’t know where to start looking, i’d highly recommend you talk to your registrar’s office. they can help you come up with some definite plans that you’re comfortable with.

best of luck with everything,


* not that it’s hard to know more than i do. i’m just a chicken suit that got hold of a computer. fear me.

Oct 27

computing your way to comp. sci.

I might not be able to take the required courses to meet the 1st Criteria for the Computer Science Major, so I’m planning on applying for this subject POST during my second year, when I meet the 2nd Criteria.
So is it harder to get in the major for the second criteria than for the first? And if I apply during my second or third years, how do retroactive program fees work for Computer Science?


hey there,

before i dive right into it, i just wanna clarify that you can only apply for subject POSts between April and September of any given year. so your next opportunity to apply to the comp. sci. major will be in the summer after second year. jsyk.

it’s not necessarily harder to get in on the 2nd criteria. if you complete CSC207H1 and CSC236H1 with a combined average of at least 70% (and you’ve completed the required 1st year courses), then you will definitely be accepted into the major.

that said, most people are accepted after first year, but if you do get that magic number of 70% as an average in those two second-year courses, then you’re in. so don’t let numbers discourage you.

as for retroactive fees, basically what happens is that the comp. sci fee will be applied to your ROSI account, for every session you weren’t in computer science at uoft AFTER the session in which you accumulate four total credits.

so if you get into comp. sci after second year, assuming you completed at least 4.0 FCEs in first year, and you didn’t do any summer courses, you would be retroactively charged the difference between the artsci fee and the comp. sci fee for your second year.

you can take a look at the fee and all the subtle, subtle regulations relating to this on page 3 of this document. note that there’s a mistake in Note 2 on Table 1: you will not be charged Commerce fees, but rather comp. sci fees, which is the ~$11k that’s listed.

c’mon, fees.utoronto. get it together.

good luck on getting into comp. sci., my friend,


Oct 27

a tour of the uoft tours

Hi aska I signed up for one of those student tours where you get put into a group with a student leader at U of t and you get to meet with a recruitment officer as well. Could you give me a rundown of what that whole thing is like?


hey there,

it’s pretty much like any other kind of tour. you know, bit of history about each building you visit, and some highlights of the infinite cool services and programs that different departments and colleges offer.

i know for sure, for example, that robarts library is a stop on the tour. also, there will be a focus on undergrad opportunities, so if you’re going into first year, the tour will be ideal for you.

(they probably won’t stop at my personal favourite service, the second cup inside of robarts, so here’s a shout-out to the folks over there from yours truly. you guys do great work.)

my top tip would be to come with some questions prepared. tours are a great opportunity to ask questions, and because the tour guides are uoft students, they likely have personal and in-depth knowledge of a lot of the places they’ll be talking about.

also, if questions occur to you as the tour is happening, don’t be shy to ask those, either.

talking to a recruitment officer is something i did not know they did, but i think it’s a fabulous idea. all your sort of nit-picky admissions questions would be great to ask the recruitment officer. also, take notes! you likely will not remember everything they throw at you on the tour.

the tour will be 1.5 hours long, so wear comfy shoes.

also, the residences run their own tours of rez, so if you want to see that, you’ll have to book a separate tour.

that’s the rundown! i hope you enjoy your tour. make sure to say hi to the second cup folks for me.



Oct 27

engineering vs. engineering

i forgot to ask some other things(sorry). i go to a semester school (dunno why they call them this don’t all schools have semesters lol) so we have like 4 classes each semester instead of all 8 (or 7 or 6) classes together for the whole year. are my midterm report cards going to be looked at for admission? i’ve been told that final sem 1 marks and midterm sem 2 marks will be looked at for my admission avg. is this true? also, i researched the 92 avg principal’s entrance scholarship and the other entrance scholarships, and there is one thing i am not clear of. which report cards of mine will they look at to get the averages for these scholarships? like will they only look at my final semester marks (and if these average to a 92, i will get the scholarship) or like what? or maybe no one knows hehe just curious to see if u do! and yeah, the extracurriculars are for my own interest but i am maintaining them most importantly for the student profile. what’s the diff between doing biomed engineering in the eng sci program and doing a biomed eng minor in the chem eng program? sorry for flooding u with questions!
i think u guys can take a break from all these admissions questions in a couple months haha


hey there,

don’t worry about asking too many questions, my friend. i take equal pride in answering questions and in poking fun at them, so if you ask a dumb question, it’ll probably just cheer up my bitter, bullying heart. plus, admissions questions are seasonal, like pumpkin spice lattes or halloween. you learn to love ‘em.

your conditional offer will be made on whatever is available to the university at that point. conditional offers are made midway into second semester, so yes, the semester 1 and midterm semester 2 marks (and SOMETIMES grade 11 marks) would be considered.

here’s uoft’s wording: “Secondary school applicants with strong midyear results may be admitted on condition that they complete their academic year successfully.” however, final admission offers will be based on your final average based on your final marks in your top 6 4U/M courses including prereqs.

i’m offended by the idea that i might NOT know something. aska is invincible! i almost never trip over my own feet! i wake up in time for my commitments a solid 60% of the time! and i DO know the answer to your scholarship question.

according to enrolment service’s Document to Soothe the Worries of High School Seniors (also known as their FAQ), “We award University scholarships on the basis of the student’s average at the time of admission…Most faculty and college scholarship offers are made at the same time. We do not reconsider admission scholarship decisions on the basis of final marks.

eng sci is a bit different from all the rest of the engineering programs. it’s a bit faster, and a bit more demanding (i’m allowed to say that because the department itself says it).

if you are a biomed engineering major in the eng sci program, you will have a first and second year which is common to all eng sci students, and then you’ll choose the biomed major for the last two years of your degree.

also, you’ll have to complete a research thesis, which is either very scary or very cool depending on what kind of a person you are.

you can take a look at what all four years look like for an engineering science biomedical engineering major here. ALSO, it’s worth noting that eng sci students graduate with a B.ASc (Bachelor of Applied Science) at the end of your degree, as opposed to engineering students, who graduate with a B.Eng (Bachelor of Engineering).

if you were in the chemical engineering program, you would take a General First Year, which is common to all engineering students other than students doing eng sci. after Year 1, you begin to take courses specific to chemical engineering. a minor in biomed engineering consists of 4.5 required courses, and you would complete those along with your major, over four years.



P.S. i trust that all you engineering kids out there will correct me in comments if i made any mistakes here. alas, i opted for a much less practical program option, y’know in terms of life and career options and all that jazz, so i don’t know all the subtleties of engineering. please, do correct me if i messed up anywhere.

Oct 23

college knowledge

Helloooo so I was just wondering what the differences between all of the colleges are, and if some are easier to get into than others?


hey there,

well, i’m not gonna give you the differences between all of the colleges. see, i totally appreciate that this may be the FIRST TIME EVER you have heard of the college system. however, i have been living and breathing uoft’s colleges for so long that i simply refuse to add one more ‘overview of uoft’s colleges’ to the slew of them that already exist online.

what slew, you ask??? well, here are just a few: bam, bloop, blarp. also, there is aska’s extensive colleges tag, and a tag for every college at uoft (innis, new, st. mike’s, trin, UC, vic and woodsworth).

also check out aska’s ‘prospective students’ tab, available on aska’s tumblr.

there are lots more ‘overviews’ out there that are not affiliated with uoft, but i would read those with extreme caution, since some of them have the unfortunate habit of tacking on random words as descriptors for each college (this is the “asian college,” the “evil college,” the “science college” or the “ugly college” – what’s next? the spaghetti college?? the small potted plants college???). they can also be biased, because they tend to be written by students who are very invested in their own college.

here at aska, we prefer to be snobby about other things, like our stellar and up-to-date web design, so our stance about the colleges is pretty even.

i’d say that reading up on practical things related to colleges, like their size, residence types (if you’ll be staying in residence) or proximity to subway stations (if you’ll be commuting), the affiliated extra-curriculars, the scholarships, and any other unique programs that they may offer will help you make the sanest and most informed decision.

another tip: read your college of interest’s newspaper. every college has one, and that can give you an idea of some of the more nebulous parts of a college, like general political slant, how the community sees/defines itself, etc.

onto the next part of your question: are some easier to get into than others?

sort of. some colleges require a supplemental application, and that’s obviously more work. students applying to victoria college must complete a student profile form. trinity college also requires a student admission profile.

additionally, innis, victoria and trinity college all require that you rank them first on your OUAC application to be considered for admission there, and woodsworth requires you to rank them first to be considered if you’re a rotman commerce student.

for that reason, it’s probably not a good idea to rank innis, vic and trin as numbers 1, 2 and 3, for example, because if you don’t get into choice #1, you’ll be down to whatever you ranked as #4.

however, try not to worry about this. you will be placed in SOME COLLEGE. you will not be left a wayward, college-less vagabond.

may i please have some more


A poor, college-less student begs for free frosh handouts and students newspapers.

so don’t stress too much about it. just figure out which ones appeal to you most (oh, yes: visiting the colleges is a good idea), and you’ll find your party palace.



Oct 21

i just want undergrad to end…please just let it end…

I am taking 5th year right now to raise my GPA and I want to go to graduate school this year. If I apply this year by the deadline, will they look at my 5th year grades as well as my previous years? Or do I have to apply next year in 2016 if I want my 5th year marks to be considered for admission?


hey there,

i’m afraid i’m not gonna be much help to you since i don’t know which graduate school/program you’re applying to. i’ll take a few stabs in the dark, but this kinda stuff varies from school to school, so it would be a good idea to double-check this.

if you were to apply to grad school straight out of fourth year, then decisions would be made based on midterm fourth year marks, as well as third and sometimes even second year grades.

so if you’re applying out of fifth year, they’ll almost certainly do the same thing. they’ll probably consider your in-progress marks for fifth year, as well as the rest of your transcript.

using a fifth year to boost your marks for graduate school is a fairly common thing at uoft, so i think you’re okay. i definitely wouldn’t wait to apply in 2016.

but each school and program has its own finicky little differences, so again, make sure you check with the actual program you’re applying to. better safe than sorry, is what i always say.



Oct 20

canada is very confusing please help

So I’m from the us and I’m just kind of confused about the Canadian application system. Do I have to write an essay and if so do you know what the common prompts are? I read something about a “personal statement” and idk if that’s what the essay is or not and I’m just so lost please help haha


hey there,

so, what i’m going to be explaining is not so much the “canadian system” as it is uoft’s very particular, extremely idiosyncratic system that we’re all forced to learn if we want to survive at all here.

first thing you do when you’re applying to uoft is apply to uoft. “i should think so, aska!” you snort sarcastically. “what else would i be doing when applying to uoft?”

well, you overly snarky applicant you, after you apply to the university – that is, to the academic faculty where you’ll be doing your studies – you apply to a college.

some colleges sponsor or host a few academic programs themselves, but you DO NOT have to be a member of the college that hosts your program of interest. there is no ‘science’ college or ‘arts’ college or ‘sentient leftover boxes of noodles’ college.* so get that idea out of your head now.

colleges are predominantly concerned with student life, residence life, and academic/financial student services, so that’s what you want to research when you’re trying to pick a college. i’d recommend browsing through aska’s ‘colleges’ tag and FAQ, as well as reading some of the literature published by uoft proper, to help make your decision.

some colleges require a supplemental application for admission to their college. most faculties, however, only require a transcript of your marks from high school (exceptions include the faculty of applied science & engineering, which does require a ‘Student Profile Form,’ and the faculty of music, which requires an audition).

it’s best to figure out what specific program, and then what college, you’re interested in, and then just follow their instructions, because it can varies from program to program and college to college.

the one commonality between all academic faculties and programs is OUAC, which provides an online form through which you submit your marks and apply to uoft. if you’re an international student, you’ll fill out the 105F application.

if your faculty and/or college DOES require any kind of personal statement on top of the 105F, they’ll stipulate exactly what that will be. it can vary from an academic essay about your topic of study to a cover-letter type explanation of your extra-curricular and work experience.

hope that eased your confusion at least a little bit.


* the ‘sentient leftover boxes of noodles’ college is just my apartment. and no, you don’t get to be a member there.

Oct 16

your annual admissions smorgasbord answer TM

Hi,  Thanks in advance for answering! I just had a couple of qts- first off, is a 91-92 average (aiming for more but we’ll see how it goes) enough to get into the engineering science program, life sciences program and any other engineering program? I do a decent amount of extracurriculars. Also, what exactly is early acceptance and do you have to apply for it? And do i have to apply for any admissions scholarships for uoft? What are some admission scholarships that i can apply for or that are available to me? THANK YOU!!


hey there,

pretty presumptuous of you to say ‘thanks in advance for answering’ to an admissions question. it’s not often that an overzealous highschooler comes away from one of my admissions answers feeling satisfied. but alas, maybe this time, it will be different.

the cut-off for admission to eng. sci. is high 80s to low 90s (everyone thinks that’s unreasonable until they see what the program’s like) and low to high 80s for the rest of engineering, depending on the program. for life sci., the cutoff is low to mid 80s.

as you probably already figured out, the cutoff grade is not the mark it takes to get in, but rather the mark it takes to be considered. take a look at the the average admissions ranges this year; they can give you a good estimate (just an ESTIMATE, mind – aska doesn’t give out guarantees) of what you’ll need for fall 2015 admission.* want more specific answers? i’m afraid i can’t give that to you. no one can.

also, you didn’t include the sentence ‘i do a decent amount of extracurriculars’ as, like, a clause to anything else in your paragraph, so just in case you don’t know, extracurriculars are helpful for your Student Profile Form when applying to engineering, but it really won’t have an impact on your application to the artsci. sorry.

early admission is just when kids apply super early (like now) and they get admitted to the university in december. early admission is not better or worse than regular admission – it’s just earlier.

unless you have some personal timeline that would benefit from knowing what uoft’s admission decision is super early, it shouldn’t affect you at all. except for in terms of, like, peace of mind.

you’re automatically considered for a $2000 scholarship if you have at least a 92% average at the time of admission. there are also separate admissions scholarships through each college, for which you’re considered automatically (go to your college website to read about the specific amounts etc.).

otherwise, there are lots of application-based entrance scholarships offered through the university of toronto, and even more offered by private companies outside the university.

one trick i used in grade 12 was to google any major corporation i could think of along with the word scholarship (e.g. ‘nike’ scholarship. i don’t know if there’s actually a nike scholarship, it’s just an example. please don’t sue me, nike).

most big, heartless businesses have scholarship programs to make it seem like they have a soul. it’s a veritable treasure chest for desperate grade 12 students.

best of luck, and hope to see you at uoft next fall!


* oh god, is it almost 2015 ALREADY? my life is SLIPPING AWAY LIKE SAND. *rushes to Shoppers to buy orthopaedic slippers and knitting needles to fully embrace the little time i have left as a grandma*

Oct 14

an overview of overseas opportunities

Hi Aska,

So i really wanted to study abroad this summer and i was wondering what the difference is between doing a summer abroad program or an exchange program? They seem basically the same to me. What are the pros and cons of each? Which would you suggest?

Thanks for the help!


hey there,

i’m feeling like i wanna shake things up a bit today, so let’s do this in LIST FORM, shall we?

Summer Abroad Program

– runs out of Woodsworth College’s Professional & International Programs
– 3-6 weeks
– available in these countries, for certain uoft courses
– costs between $5000-$9000 (including flights, meals, etc.) depending on the country

UofT Exchange Program

– run by the CIE
– one semester, one year, or one summer long
– available at partner institutions in these countries
cost is your regular uoft tuition plus flights, meals, accommodation, etc.

the main distinction is that in the summer abroad program, you’re doing a UOFT COURSE in some other country. in the uoft exchange program, you’re completing TRANSFER CREDITS at an international university.

if you think another university’s courses would be a really good supplement to your program, and you can get enough transfer credits there to be on track when you come back, then the exchange program is for you.

also, if you just want to get away from toronto for a really, really long time, CIE’s program is your golden ticket. you can get away for so long your memories of the TTC will almost be washed away entirely. almost.

on the other hand, if you’re not particularly interested in taking courses outside of uoft, and you’re more comfortable committing to just one or two months abroad rather than a full semester or year, the summer abroad program is probably a better fit.

finally, consider the financial aspect carefully before you decide to go. it’s no fun coming back from an exchange dirt poor, AND having to spend the little money you do have left on the TTC. that gosh dang TTC. here are CIE’s funding opportunities, and here’s Woodsworth’s.



Oct 07

come to fall campus day! – a sneaky plug

Would you know if Daniels is having a separate “fall campus day”/open house other than one one that St George is having? Or if there is a separate such day for grad students?


hey there,

lucky for you, fall campus day is your one-stop-shop for all things uoft. every college, all five undergraduate faculties, student residences, and graduate studies will throw open their arms (or doors) for you on october 18th.

during fall campus day, daniels will be having two info sessions about undergrad admissions and one mock lecture, both of which i would highly, highly recommend. it’s not every faculty that will allow you to simulate a lecture before you actually get into the program.

daniels will also be having a graduate studies open house on november 4th and 5th.

if you’re interested in any of the other bazillion graduate programs offered by uoft, you can visit “almost all” of them at fall campus day.

oh, hey! speaking of, your very own aska will also be lurking around at fall campus day. do you think you can find me?



Oct 06

will you MISS me when i’m gone, MISSissauga?


I’m a first year English student at UofT Mississauga. I wanted to transfer to UofT St.George next year. What do I need to do in order to do so? What is the cgpa I need to get in and when do I need to apply? and how hard is it to get in, because I heard it’s difficult to transfer. ?


hey there,

logistically, it’s actually easier for you to transfer between uoft campuses than people at other universities. so you’ve go that going for you.

now, don’t get too excited: i’m not saying you WILL get in. i’m just saying it’s not IMPOSSIBLE, if you meet the requirements.

so, as for requirements, it’s pretty straightforward. all you need is to meet any program requirements, and have a decent CGPA.

that means at least a ‘B’ average and, assuming you want to transfer into English at UTSG, there are no specific program requirements UNLESS you’re interested in the specialist, in which case you’ll need at least a 73% in your school’s equivalent to ENG110Y1, ENG140Y1, or ENG150Y1.

all the application deadlines you could ever possibly need are here.

best of luck in your quest down town,


Oct 06

gimme my money, chumps

I’m receiving a scholarship that is supposed to be sent to U of T by cheque and then deposited into my ROSI account.  However, I don’t know if this will happen before or after the deadline to pay tuition fees (My fees are deferred because I’m receiving OSAP as well.).  If the scholarship goes into my ROSI account after the October 30 deadline, what will happen to the money? Am I allowed to take it out of the account? Save it for next year’s tuition? Or it is wasted? Sorryifthiswasalongramble….


hey there,

well, it won’t be sent to you as a cheque AND deposited to your ROSI account, because that would be like giving you your money twice…which is wrong

the next slated time for scholarships to be released (either as credit on your ROSI or as a cheque, if you’re graduating) is late october.

obviously, if you need the scholarship to pay your fees and to avoid service charges, that may be too late to receive it. in that case, you can request that you receive the amount earlier from student accounts.

otherwise, you can just try and pay off as much as you can, so that the service charge doesn’t impact you too much.

finally, you can’t “take money out of your account” because ROSI is not a real, money-holding account like a bank is. if you get a scholarship, then the scholarship amount is just subtracted from your total fees on your account invoice (that is, unless you request it as a cheque).

if your scholarship amount is higher than the amount that is still left to be paid on your account invoice, then whatever amount is left over will show up as a “credit” (or CR, as it’s noted on account invoices) on your account. that amount can then roll over to next year’s fees.



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