your student life specialists

May 21

would make a pun but i don’t know enough econ

Hi! First of all before I ask my question, thank you for being super informative in answering the questions in a personal and friendly manner. It has helped so much since I start my first year soon! Okay, so I would love to take some economic courses but on the website it says the prerequisite is high school calculus. I only took advanced functions and an economics course so far, do I have to take calculus to enrol? Thank you and have a lovely day!!!


hi there,

no worries at all– it’s what i’m here for, but i really appreciate your appreciation. writing an anonymous blog can feel a bit like shouting into the void, so it’s always good to hear that the stuff i’m putting out is useful!

i’m not entirely sure which website you’re referencing, because u of t being u of t there are a ton of places you could be getting your info. regardless, i’m pretty sure what you’re seeing is the program prerequisite, and not the prerequisite for courses specifically.  as far as i can tell, you don’t actually need high school calc to enrol in first-year econ courses. the artsci calendar lists secondary school calc/advanced functions as recommended preparation for ECO100, key word being recommended.

ECO100 is quite tough from what i’ve heard, so i would be cautious going into it with absolutely no calculus background. but i guess the point is if you wanted to you could. and if you take ECO105, the intro course for non-specialists, nothing is mentioned with regards to recommended preparation. if you’re not planning to be an econ major, i’d recommend you give this one a try. while i’ve never taken the course myself, i have several friends who say it’s pretty easy to do well as long as you put the work in. meanwhile, i have one or two humanities friends that took 100 to prove to themselves they could do it, and…  kind of just regret it now. there is a strong argument, though, for taking 100: if you’ll be doing higher-level econ later on, it’ll prepare you better for that more advanced study. your call, you know yourself best.

if you do want to be registered in the econ major later on (you’ll choose your programs of study at the end of first year) i would look into getting that high school calculus credit. perhaps from an online course provider, as long as you can make sure you get credit. you’ll need it for admission into the program– i believe even if it’s a high school prereq, it will be enforced. so just keep that in mind.

hope this helped! welcome to u of t and best of luck with your first year.



May 21

a tomorrow problem

im in a stressful place right now – im on academic probation, but im already enrolled in summer school with osap already given. the 2 0.5 courses im taking interest me a lot and im sure i can do well in them, but there’s still a voice in the back of my head that gets me really nervous about my academic standing come the end of my term. do u think its possible to pass and secure at least a 1.7 gpa in the 1st summer term, given my terrible academic standing last year? ????


hey friend,

it’s hard to know too much about your situation. but from what i can guess from the numbers, you’re trying to dodge suspension, yeah? or at least that’s usually what it is when someone on probation is concerned with making a summer GPA of 1.7.

if the courses interest you and you’re optimistic about doing well, then by all means i think a 1.7 is possible. it’s hard to really tell because i don’t know what your academic record’s been like, nor do i know if there are non-academic factors you think will heap extra struggle on your studies. but at least it’s just the one summer term you’ve got to worry about for now. since the school’s not requiring you to pull your entire CGPA up to stay registered at the school (which would be much harder), it may be healthier to shelve your past grades for the moment.

i don’t blame you for being nervous. it’s only natural to feel overwhelmed when you’re contending with a whole academic record looming over you. but ultimately, all you have control over right now is how well you do in these two classes. i’d encourage you to focus on just that, then. you don’t have control over your gpa so much as you have control over how smart/hard you study, and how well you keep up. you feel? remember that it’s also okay to ask for help– in fact, you should. clarification from profs/TAs on assignments can actually make quite a big difference with how well you do.

i know the summer term’s been on for a few weeks now, but if you think it might help, i’d recommend that you contact your registrar or student life and see if you can get an appointment with a learning strategist. especially if you’ve been struggling for academic and not personal reasons, this might help you out. they’ll be able to walk you through smarter study strategies, give you exam prep tips, and sling you pointers on writing and presenting. they also help you address issues like procrastination, which tbh we all need at least bit of help with.

as much as i’d love to (and totally could, if you want) write up a post chock-full of study tips, i always feel better knowing yall are talking to someone in person, who’s better able to familiarize themselves with your specific situation. i love the anonymous aska format, but it can make it a bit difficult to give super personalized advice, which you certainly deserve.

thanks for waiting on this answer, and sorry for the delay in getting it up. wishing you loads and loads of good luck and strong work ethic to get you through the summer sem. i believe in you and your ability to push through and pass those courses, even if it doesn’t end up being easy. i’m here cheering for you and hoping for your success!

over n out,


May 21

is it illegal

Hey got a weirdo question for future references. I know that a typical full course load for summer school is 2.0 credits spread evenly through the summer but, lets say 3 courses I want to take are being offered in the same summer session. Is it illegal to do a summer session with 1.5 credits in one (and potentially 0.5 credits in the other)? I mean, it’s kinda crazy but it’s still 2.0 credits so it’s not an overload… Right?


not that weird of a question at all! as far as i can tell, unfortunately it would actually count as an overload. the artsci calendar indicates that the maximum course load for any given summer term is 2 courses, the same way the max you can take in fall/winter at one time is six. so if you did want to take all 3 courses at once, you’d have to request registration in an overload through your registrar.

not much you can do about it. the system’s pretty inflexible, i guess.

either way, i know this is just a hypothetical, but i’d encourage you to take that third course at another time if you’re able. sometimes the rules are there to protect us from ourselves. summer courses are accelerated and it gets pretty tough to juggle three of them in one sem. midterm season hits second week of summer school, i swear. i’m not a fan.

over n out,

May 18

let’s get this breadth

What are the breadth requirements for arts and sciences students?? The page on the school website gave me an error: not found message :/


hey there,

yeah so it seems like the artsci website is… broken? or at least the version of it linked to nearly every single google search is chock-full of 404s. trust me, i’m not the biggest fan of this either because it makes my job as an aska harder.

i’m sure someone at the uni is working hard on getting things back on track, though. in the meantime, i’d suggest you either do a search using the artsci search bar instead of google, because the page links you get from that shouldn’t be broken. otherwise, you may be able to find the information on other sites, and feel free to ask again if there’s anything you can’t find.

i did manage to find a working page that outlines the breadth requirements. there are 5, which i can outline for you here since i’m answering this question anyway:

BREADTH 1: “creative and cultural representations” — involves things like creative writing, anthropology, cinema studies, drama, and the like. the artsiest of artsci. want to study tolkien or game of thrones? talk about murder in fiction? find out what the heck a cossack is? these are the courses you’re looking for.

BREADTH 2: “thought, belief, and behaviour”– are your parents nagging you to ‘learn a third language, jimmy, it’ll help prevent the early onset of alzheimer’s’? (maybe this is a me problem.) are you into philosophy? do debates on morality get you going? do you like to do a lot of thinking for the sake of thinking? chances are you’ll already have this breadth pat down.

BREADTH 3: “society and its institutions”–do you self-identify as a history buff? have a burning vendetta against gender violence that you want to explore in the classroom? want to go paddling on the great lakes for credit? hell yeah you do. breadth 3 is for you.

BREADTH 4: “living things and their environment” — is your life’s goal to cure some obscure but life-threatening disease? do you want to talk about drugs? dementia? membranes? TREES?

BREADTH 5: “the physical and mathematical universes” — do chem labs spark joy for you? are numbers your idea of a good time?  does thinking about the human genome fill you with awe and wonder? breadth 5, my friend, is your vibe.

–i mean, for a lot of these you don’t really have a choice. to fulfill your breadth requirements, you’ll need to take either:

  1. one full credit from four categories OR
  2. one full credit from three, and a half credit from the remaining two

usually breadth requirements aren’t too bad, though. if your strengths lean more so to one of either humanities or the sciences, you can definitely find breadth requirement courses that won’t pose as much as a challenge for you. for example, i managed to get my breadth 5 credit with a first-year astronomy course that didn’t require me to do any math at all. i’m sure there are also humanities courses designed for the sciences. i would encourage you to get these requirements out of the way early, though, especially since the easiest breadth courses are restricted to first years (seminars and ones).

sorry for the wait getting this answered– i’ve been out of commission for a bit but i’m back now and will try to get through the backlog of questions. big THANK to everyone waiting!



May 12


If I’m going into my first year and still pretty undecided about what I want to study, can the courses I take just be exploratory and unrelated to each other?? I’m a vague ~humanities~ person but am also really interested in environmental studies (even though I suck at math!!!! aaah!!!!) and so im worried my courses are gonna be alllll over the place before I figure out what I wanna do.


hello there,

it’s perfectly okay to still be undecided going into first year! a lot of people go into uni with a concrete four year plan they end up ditching anyway, so i wouldn’t say your lack of direction puts you at any particular disadvantage.

u of t’s actually pretty great place to go if you’ve got a variety of interests. i’m not sure how familiar you are with the school’s requirements, but this university (for some reason unknown to me) pretty much only hands out honors degrees. a lot of students don’t realize this heading in. that means that you won’t actually be able to take a single major at this university: you’ll need a combination of either one specialist, two majors, or a major and two minors. we call these our programs of study, or POSts. i know kids doing double majors in things as unrelated to one another as Chemistry and Peace & Conflict Studies—cross-disciplinary study is easier here, i feel, than at other universities. so by all means, you could end up majoring in environmental studies AND a humanities program.

the only thing you’ll want to be aware of is that you’ll need prereqs to get into those POSts. so it’s not exactly an ‘explore to your heart’s delight’ situation, unfortunately. on the bright side, from what i know, humanities and social science programs generally tend to have fewer prerequisites than science programs, so this might give you more leeway.

i don’t know what humanities programs you were looking at specifically, but i took a look at the environmental studies major for you. the one i’ve linked is the arts version of it, which interestingly enough doesn’t require anything from you as a first year. they recommend you take ENV100, but it’s by no means a requirement. doesn’t look like there are any math courses required for this major, either, so this might be a good option for you! there is an environmental science major, which does seem to be quite a bit more intensive with required first-year chem and bio. you can take a look at it if you want, just to know what your options are.

in short– yes, you can and should explore! just be aware of what you might need to get into the programs you’re interested in. welcome in advance to u of t and all the best for your first year, my friend. hope you figure out what it is you wanna do!

over n out,


May 12

in with a new POSt, out with the old ones


so i just finished my first year at utsg and i have applied to do a double major in equity studies and pharmacology. within the past couple of weeks i have been getting really really into physics (which is odd because i hated physics in high school). anyways im thinking that i want to switch into a biophysics specialist degree. the issue is, that i didnt take any physics or calculus during my first year and so i basically have to restart my four years. i was just wondering how i would go about switching to the physics specialist, do i just leave my current posts as they are and take the courses that i need for physics or do i have to drop my posts somehow or something else? not sure if this changes things but equity studies is a type one so ive already been accepted and pharmacology is type 3 so im still waiting to hear back on that one. (also do you have any tips on how to cope with the fact that i wasted an entire year and thousands of dollars)

and thank you in advance for your response!



nice job making it through first year! it’s a perfectly normal thing to see your interests shift at this point in your degree– i can definitely relate to that, although not to getting into physics.

to get the tedious part out of the way first– how would you go about making the change? i wouldn’t drop your POSts now, no. you need to be registered in some kind of valid program combination to be eligible for second-year course selection, so if you won’t be able to get into biophysics before fall it’s best to keep what you’ve got. think about your current programs as placeholders of sorts– ignore their requirements, and focus on taking the prereqs for your biophysics spec. then, when the program enrollment period rolls around, apply for biophys.

chances are you already know this, but if you took the prereqs for pharmacology, you may already have the chem requirement for biophys under your belt, at least for the most basic biophysics specialist. hopefully that makes things a little less overwhelming!

all the biophysics specialists seem to be type 1, which will hopefully make things a little easier for you. if you were switching into multiple type 2 or 3 progams, i would have advised you to apply for them first THEN drop your previous programs once you got in. just to be safe. but since yours is a type 1 and you’re switching into a specialist, that makes things a lot simpler. you’ll be able to register in biophys before dropping equity and pharm, as ACORN allows you to be in a maximum of 3 POSts at once.

how to cope with the fact that your first year didn’t ultimately feed into your POSt? we’re fed this myth that we all need to finish our degree in four years, and that absolutely everything in our studies must count or serve a purpose or lead to a job. i’m still wrestling with this myself, because i’ve internalized that expectation. but no. everyone has their own time, their own path. this just happens to be yours. maybe it sounds wishy-washy, or cheesy, or whatever. either way, there’s nothing you can do to erase your first year and do it over, so from here all you can do is keep moving forward. i can understand if you’re bummed about it. though. i guess from a financial standpoint especially, it can be difficult to move past.

despite not knowing you personally, i’m real proud that you’ve acknowledged where your passions lie and are willing to pursue them, even if it might not be the most convenient thing to do. so much changes when your course content gets you excited. i don’t know what this past year has been like for you, but if it’s been rough then this might be what you need for study motivation.

i know several people who totally switched their programs when first year was over, and even one who switched faculties AND universities after her second year. everyone who i’ve seen go after something new has been really successful in their current program of study, so much so that it’s hard to imagine what things would have been like had they succumbed to inertia. i think a lot of this has to do with the fact that they followed their interests, and care a lot about what they’re studying now. maybe that’s where you’ll be in a year’s time.

wishing you all the best, friend! i think you’re brave.

over n out,


May 11

you are artiste

Before I ask my question, I wanted to say thank you for your advice. I finally got in! So my question is I’m currently going into Art & Art History but I want to transfer to Visual Studies at the St. George campus after my first year. Would it be impossible to do?


hello again,

WELCOME TO U OF T MY FRIEND, i’m so excited for you and big congratulations on your acceptance. as far as i know, what you want is certainly possible. in order to transfer to visual studies at utsg, you’ll be looking at doing an internal transfer into the daniels faculty of architecture, landscape, and design. utsg’s rotman faculty (the business one) is the only one that doesn’t seem to take transfers from other u of t campuses, so as a potential daniels kid you’re in luck.

the terrible thing is that you actually have to apply through ouac all over again. assuming you’re a full-time student, you’ll be using an internal application that will apparently cost you $90. when going over your application, the university will look at both your overall academic record as well as your grades from the year you spent at UTM.

i’m not sure exactly what grades you’d need to be considered, at utm, to be competitive as a transfer student from another u of t campus, you would have needed a cumulative GPA (CGPA) of 2.5 and upwards. this is a bit awkward because the u of t grading scheme  jumps straight from a C+, or 2.3, to a B- at 2.7– and anyway, i would guess that the utsg threshold would be higher. it’s not publicized, though, so you may want to give your registrar a visit and ask if they know anything.

to get into visual studies specifically, you’ll need to have met any program prerequisites. i can’t exactly figure out what prereqs visual studies requires, so you may want to look into that if you can.

since you’re applying to daniels and not artsci, you’ll need to apply for a transfer credit assessment once you get admitted. it’s the same school, i know, but what you’ll learn very quickly is that u of t is this weird disjointed bureaucracy of all these different offices that report to different things. so i guess in some respects, the campuses are treated as quite distinct from one another. you’ll only need to do this after you’re admitted, but keep in mind there’s an extra fee tacked on of 30 whole dollars. that’s like, two whole sushi burritos. a devastating amount.

the deadlines for your application aren’t out yet, but to give you an idea of what you’re looking at, the deadlines for 2019-2020 internal transfers were january 10, 2018 for the application, with a recommended deadline of november 1 the previous calendar year. there’s a supplemental application with a deadline that varies slightly, so you’ll want to take a look at that as well.

the catch is, you’ll want to do this before you hit second year– if you’re serious about transferring, it’s safest not to wait. daniels won’t take anyone with more than 10.0 credits or full-course equivalents, i guess because then your degree will be half done and there’s not really much point. on top of this, you can only get up to 5.0 transfer credits, equivalent to one fall/winter session’s worth of classes.

sorry for the long and dry post but hope this is helpful! internal transfers can get complicated and i would highly recommend you talk to someone in-person about this as well. good luck with it all, though, and if you have any more questions feel free to send them in!

to end the post off, here’s a smol painting dolphin with more artistic talent than me:



May 11

higher further faster

Hi aska, do graduate programs (such as masters or law school) take into account how many 300 or 400 level courses you take during your undergraduate? I know law school admissions weigh GPA and LSAT marks quite heavily and wouldn’t like to see students taking 100 level courses in their 4th year for an easy GPA record. Should I aim to take mostly 400 level courses in 4th year? Or is that too unrealistic sanity-wise?


hello friend,

graduate programs! half of us, maybe more, have these hovering over our heads, don’t we? gotta love the higher education bubble pushing us higher further faster.

admissions questions are often tough to answer well because, as a student myself, it’s hard to know exactly what the decisions people are looking for. so i don’t have a preset formula to offer you– no ‘take 3 400 levels and you’ll be fine’ or whatnot.

according to u of t’s school of graduate studies, though, a variety of non-academic factors play a role in your admissions. apparently, this might include the research statements you propose, their alignment with faculty expertise, and “relevant professional activities.” when you apply to grad school, you’re typically also required to submit reference letters: glowing recommendations from reputable individuals can do wonders for your application. my point in reminding you of this (because you’re likely already aware) is that it’s not all about what you can tackle academically.

while i’m relatively certain it is important to take several higher-level courses in your undergrad if you’re considering grad school, doing so isn’t everything. it’s important for your application to be strong in other areas, and you may not have as much time and energy to expend on things like “professional activities” if you’re drowning under a boatload of 400 level courses. grad schools want to see that you’re able to challenge yourself and succeed, but i feel like there’s a balance and only you would know where that lies for you. like you mentioned, sanity-wise taking lots of tough courses can be taxing and it’s important to prioritize your health and well-being. not that i’m the poster child for doing so, but it’s a process, right?

anyway, i feel like you should probably have a chat with an upper year expert at your registrar or even u of t’s grad school admissions office if you want further information on this. your registrar will be familiar with your academic record and be able to give better recommendations as to what you can handle academically, whereas the grad school admissions people are literally the ones making the decisions so they’ll have more concrete answers than i do.

sorry i couldn’t be more helpful! best of luck figuring it out.

over n out,


May 10

lemin! LEMINN!

Hi there!

I was wondering how hard it is to transfer to UofT LifeSci. I applied after high school and got into UTSG, but my final high school results barely met my conditional requirements so I turned down UofT’s offer to try and make it better at UWaterloo. I want to try for med school, and now my first year grades at Waterloo are much better. We don’t get a GPA but based on online GPA calculators, with a percentage ranging from 80-92%, I have a 3.7-3.8 GPA average.

I got in with much worse grades in high school, but I’m wondering if it’s more competitive to transfer after a year at uni because of lower availability of seats?
Currently I’ve applied and am waiting for my final transcript to be sent to UTSG and UTM before a decision comes in.

Also, should I get to choose, would UTM really be a bad choice for med school as compared to UTSG? I’m in a pickle because I live in Mississauga so UTM is more convenient, and apparently provides a higher chance of getting a good GPA, but everyone says UTSG is the place to be for my program and to make connections, etc.

Thank you for your help!


hello hello!

two transferees (is that a word?) in one week, wow. we in demand here.

you’ve got two main questions that i can identify, so– because i have trouble! focusing! otherwise! — i’ll break my answer into two main parts.

1. is it more competitive to transfer in now?

ike i told the last person who asked, you’ll need a high b university average to be competitive as a transfer student. at u of t that translates to the 77-79% range. the school does indicate that some programs may require a slightly higher transfer average, but with a 3.7-3.8 you should be safe. or that’s my best guess, anyway. meanwhile, admissions straight out of high school requires an average in the mid- to low- 80s.

so, looking at just the numbers, it does seem like it’s actually less competitive to transfer in after a year of uni elsewhere. keep in mind that they do consider your whole academic record, not just your uni grades, but i’m not sure how the two are weighted against each other. no grade threshold is provided for transferees’ high school record, unfortunately.

2. UTM or UTSG?

i mean, ultimately you still get a u of t degree regardless of which campus you choose. but i can outline what each campus will be able to offer you, and hopefully that’ll help you with your decision.

UTSG is known to be a more competitive campus in general, likely because of two things: its size, and the fact that it seems to attract a greater proportion of high-achieving students. i’m not saying the other two campuses can’t have geniuses, it’s just a general pattern that people at the school believe exists. so as a lifesci kid here, you’ll be dealing with larger, more impersonal classes, and can expect to be graded alongside a good chunk of very smart, very driven people. if you’ve heard it’s not the place to be for a high gpa, this is likely why.

the best thing about UTSG, though, is that it’s where the majority of opportunities are concentrated. it is true that if you’re looking to network or immerse yourself in extracurriculars, the downtown toronto campus has a lot more to offer you. in terms of what’s relevant to you, we’ve got a ton of hospitals in the downtown core, which means more opportunities for you to gain experience in the field of medicine as an undergrad. as far as i’ve heard, a good GPA alone can’t get you into med school– they’ll also look at what you were involved in outside the classroom, like leadership activities and volunteerism. in this respect, i couldn’t recommend UTSG more to you. UTSG also offers a wider range of program and course choices, if that’s something that matters to you.

it is true that if you’re struggling academically as a result of commuting and UTSG’s higher demands, you may not have as much space in your life to dedicate to volunteering and extracurricular involvement. at UTM, i’m sure you can still find clubs and such to immerse yourself in. UTM’s also not as massive, and if your classes/labs are smaller it stands to reason that you’re more likely to get to know your profs. this can be immensely helpful in terms of getting reference letters and getting help on coursework.

in other words, your proximity to UTM definitely isn’t the only thing going for the campus– it wouldn’t doom you for med school, as far as i know. the rumors are that there aren’t many successful med school applicants from UTM, but perhaps that’s a reflection of the smaller campus size? it’s definitely still possible to do med out of UTM.

i’m not sure if all i did was make your decision more difficult. i really hope not. i would recommend that if you’re really stuck, you speak to someone in the admissions office and see if they’re willing to advise you. after all, i’m just a fellow student who’s never made it to med school.

one last thing. how do you not get a gpa? what? whaT? with the utmost respect, that’s kind of whack. i’m really curious as to why.

over n out,



May 09

almost THERE the end is NEAR

Hi, I’m almost graduating in this June and already complete all the requirements of my major. But I’m afraid that one of the other course I take in other department will fail. Just wondering if I fail in this cr course, will it reflect on my graduation? Cause the completion will only be 19.5/20 credits but I already apply for graduate… And what could I do next?Thank?



congrats on making it this far, that’s no small achievement! you’re so close to being outta here.

unfortunately, unless you can get the full 20 credits under your belt, the university can’t consider you eligible for graduation because you don’t meet the degree requirements. so although you’ve already applied for grad, your application likely won’t be successful if you don’t manage to pass this one last course.

if that happens, what you might want to try doing is taking a half credit course this summer, and applying a cr/ncr to it so all you have to do is pass. then, you can apply for november graduation to avoid waiting another full year to graduate. if you’d like, you can give your registrar a visit and see if they have any other recommendations for you– this is the only one i can think to pass on.

hopefully, though, you manage to scrape a pass and don’t even have to worry about it. fingers crossed for you!

over n out,


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