incoming first-years: it’s that time again! except for you guys, it’s “that time” for the first time, because you’ve never done it before. and no, i’m not talking about eating spaghetti meatballs with your sweetie. i’m talking about COURSE ENROLMENT.
you may have heard from older friends that course enrolment is this terrible, harrowing process, that uoft is out to get you and doesn’t want you to get into your courses, and that the system is set up for you to fail.
i’m not gonna argue with you if you want to make yourself out as a victim of The Man. but if you don’t get into any of your courses, it’s probably just because you’re a dingus who wasn’t prepared. that’s the hard truth.
FORTUNATELY FOR YOU, aska wants to help you leave the nest and become a fully-fledged, competent uoft student. so today, i am going to be resolving the most commonly asked first-year questions on course enrolment day – which, this year, is on the 28th of July, also known as TOMORROW.
1. i don’t understand what i’m supposed to take in first year – what are my mandatory courses?
there are no mandatory courses. at many other Ontario universities, the university will enrol you into your mandatory courses. you may be hearing about this from your friends at Western and Ryerson and Ottawa and feeling a twinge of panic, because you haven’t heard ANYTHING about mandatory courses, and as far as you know, you have to do all of your course enrolment yourself.
uoft isn’t a hand-holder. it’s more of a cold, distant parent that gives you abandonment issues. however, like the rich, neglected child who gets to have a lot of pool parties because their parents are always away, what may seem like a frustratingly hands-off approach will actually provide you with freedom and flexibility in the end.
unlike your friends at other schools, you have no mandatory courses, strictly speaking. as a first-year student in the Faculty of Arts & Science (excluding Rotman Commerce students), you have to figure out what courses you want to take in order to apply for programs in your second year. after first year, you’ll need to be in 1 specialist OR 2 majors OR 1 major and 2 minors, so you should enrol in the courses you’ll need to be eligible for whatever combination of programs you’re interested in.
some programs, like the international relations major, require that you take certain courses and achieve certain marks in those courses in order to be considered. other programs have no requirements at all, except for the completion of at least 4.0 credits – the mathematics major is an example of this.
so what you have to do is take a look at the calendar, figure out what program(s) you’re interested in, and see if there are courses you’ll need to take in order to be eligible to apply to those programs. once you do that, you will likely have some credits left over to take pretty much anything else you want. you may consider using them to fill breadth requirements, or simply to take courses for general interest.
2. why is my start time different from my friends’? We’re in the same year/program/board games club!
do not assume that you have the same start time as your friends. do the leg work and figure out your start time BEFORE the 28th. log in to ACORN and double-check. if you’ve never logged in to ACORN before, figure it out now. you will not be able to log in to ACORN on the day of, UNTIL your start time hits. that’s why it’s important to check NOW if you have not already.
you can do it. aska believes in you.
3. i can’t enrol myself into a course even though i meet the prerequisites!
if i were in charge of creating a transition pamphlet for first-year students, it would be a blank 8”x11” sheet of paper with two words on it: ENROLMENT CONTROLS.
if you can’t add a course to your cart on ACORN or enrol into it, and you can’t figure out why, it’s almost definitely because you don’t meet the enrolment control – i.e. the restriction or priority that allows only certain students to take the course.
for example: let’s say you’ve been admitted to Year 1 Life Sciences. you want to take MAT133Y1 because it looks more interesting than MAT135/136. but WAIT! ACORN is not letting you add the course to your enrolment cart! desperate and in despair, you go to the timetable and search ‘MAT133’ in the search bar.
you notice that there is a yellow bar that says ‘Enrolment Controls: Priority (P)’ under each lecture section for that course. you open the yellow bar to see that there is a priority for Year 1 Commerce and Year 1 Social Science students – which is not you. you’re Life Science. still following? good.
what does this priority mean? well, you’ll have to wait until August 5th at noon to enrol in a course if you don’t meet the priority. assuming there is still space, you can enrol in the course at that time. if there is an R for restricted (instead of a P for priority) and you’re not in the group of students listed, then you cannot enrol in the course at all. if there is an E, then you cannot enrol in the course directly, but must apply through the department that offers the course.
capice? good. i don’t want to hear about it any more.
4. i don’t meet the prerequisite for a course but i still managed to enrol in it! did i pull a fast one on ACORN?
no. ACORN can’t tell whether or not you have the prerequisites for a course; it’s not that smart. the main way that ACORN manages course enrolment is via enrolment controls (see above). however, that doesn’t mean that prerequisites are irrelevant. after course enrolment, departments will go through their courses and remove students – without warning or notice – from courses if they don’t meet the prerequisite(s).
you can check to see if a course has prerequisites on the course calendar.
5. why can’t i enrol in any more courses?!
you are only able to enrol in up to 5.0 credits (that includes waitlisted courses) until August 5th. on August 5th, the limit goes up to 6.0 credits. if you can’t enrol in a course that still has space, and you meet the enrolment control, it may be because you’ve hit your limit.
best of luck on the day of, kids. and remember: no matter how difficult you find course enrolment to be, it’s only gonna get harder from here on out.