your student life specialists

Jul 06

we don’t talk about grade 9

Hi, I kinda had bad grades in my first two years of high school. (like 70-68 %) And I was wondering, is that going to have an impact on my future? I would very much like to be a surgeon or an engineer. Or a biochemist or a scientist or an anthropologist…You get what I want to say


hey there,

in the simplest terms: no. grades 9 and 10 are not considered in university applications. only your top 6 grade 12, university-level courses (including any program prerequisites) will be considered for an admission decision. your grade 11 marks may be used for a conditional offer of admission while you’re still completing your grade 12 courses. however, your grade 9 and 10 marks will not be considered.

and here it is in more complex terms: just because they’re not considered for admission, doesn’t mean grades 9 and 10 won’t “impact your future” at all.

engineering, medicine, biochem – these are all very challenging disciplines. you need to be on top of your game in grades 11 and 12 to get into university, and to do well in your first year.

not that grades 9 and 10 will necessarily dictate how well you do in grades 11 and 12 – definitely not. aska herself wasn’t doing so hot in grade 9, and NOW look where she is! writing for an anonymous blog and looking forward to her three oreos she’s got saved up for dinner. holla.

but if you didn’t do so great in grades 9 and 10, you might want to look into how you might do better in the coming years. identify the areas where you need help. is it math? writing?

then figure out what you can do to improve. maybe that means getting a tutor. maybe that means de-prioritizing a few things to make room for school.

it does NOT mean freaking out about your grades and giving yourself a heart condition at the age of 17. i’m not saying any of these things to SCARE you. aska would never want to cause anything but happiness to the wee youngins reading her posts.

all i’m saying is that you may want to invest some time in figuring out 1) what you really truly want to do and 2) how to get there, so that once you do get to uni, you’ll be ready.

i hope that helps!



Jul 06


Hi! I can’t seem to find any concrete numbers anywhere – how much do courses cost for the per-course fee at St. George Arts & Sci? Is there a date when the fees are posted or are they already up somewhere I can’t see?


hey there,

we’re hoping the fees for 2015-2015 will be posted around mid-July, so keep checking the fees website for updates as we approach that time. unfortunately, i can’t give you an exact date. (believe you me, i’m as bummed about that as you are.)

however, you can take a look at the most recent archived fee schedule (for the moment, that’s 2013-2014 – they haven’t archived the 2014-2015 one yet) to get an approximate idea of what you’re looking at. that year, one half-course cost about $600, not including incidental fees.

the archive is usually a pretty accurate representation of what to expect for the upcoming year, except the numbers are always a little bit bigger than they were in the preceding year. which is…just…nifty.



Jul 06

*obsessively recalculates GPA the whole summer long*

I finished first year and ended up with a 3.45 gpa- I know that’s not “bad” but I’m wondering how UofT calculates cgpa.. Do they just average all your annual gpas? More speciffically- (and hypothetically), if I get 4.0 in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year, is the highest cpga I can achieve a 3.86?


hey there,

technically, it’s “an average of all the courses you have taken,” but practically speaking, yes, that’s how it works out.

HOWEVER, try not to stress too much about how you did in first year. nearly no graduate or professional schools take your first year into account for admissions decisions, so if that’s your worry, you can rest easy. everyone knows that first year is all about screwing up and falling on your face.

just try to use what you learned in first year to make your second year even better than the first one. (not that you asked for my advice. or that your first year was at all bad. but, as my high school Latin teacher used to say, we must always be moving “onwards and upwards.”)



Jul 03

even the physics WEBSITE is complicated

Hi Aska! Under the physics major there is a note which says “The Physics Major program is not designed primarily for students intending to pursue graduate studies in Physics. Such students should consider the Physics Specialist or one of the joint Specialist programs.” and I was just wondering if doing a physics major rather than a specialist would impact my chances of getting into grad school? And why is this the only major I’ve come across which states this? Thanks!


hey there,

obviously, there are lots of physics graduate programs at many universities across the world. i can’t analyze how appropriate uoft’s major program might be for every one of them, so i’m just going to use uoft’s M.Sc. in Physics program as an example – even though their website is BASICALLY USELESS.

the only thing the whole physics site really has to say about admission requirements for the M.Sc. program is this: “A B+ or better average in an honours physics program or a program of comparable rigour in a closely related field.

despite the fact that there is not nearly enough information in this sentence, it’s also a very confusing sentence. and the confusion starts with the word “honours.”

most people outside uoft – hell, most people inside uoft – have no idea what the word “honours” actually means. so strap yourself in and get ready for a crash course in uoft history.

before 1992, uoft offered two bachelor’s degrees: a three-year degree, and a four-year honours degree (see “Discontinued Degrees and Upgrading“). not everyone did the honours degree. it was only for the super-special smart cookies of the university. everyone else moved to the suburbs to get their 2.5 kids and white picket fence, or whatever it is they did back then.

nowadays, there is no more three-year degree. everyone’s degree is four years long (unless you started before 1992 OR you’re graduating with a GPA under 1.85), which means everyone gets an honours degree. no one is special anymore.

so that’s what “honours” REALLY means. however, i have a feeling that that’s not what the physics department means by the word “honours.” i’m thinking they’re probably using it in the traditional sense, to mean a more specialized or intensive degree, like in the pre-1992 days of yore. and the reason i think this is because they say “honours physics program.” not degree, program.

AND NOW we FINALLY get to the point: given their probable use of the word “honours,” a major program from uoft in physics, requiring as it does only 7.5 physics FCEs, is probably not rigorous enough as preparation for a master’s program. if you think about it, 7.5 FCEs is less than half of your degree, and so it might not be enough preparation for a graduate program dedicated entirely to physics.

the specialist programs, meanwhile, require nearly double that amount of credits. they also provide more opportunities for academic research, which is invaluable for someone preparing for a graduate degree. finally, in the natural sciences (as opposed to the humanities or social sciences), there tends to be a more marked difference between majors and specialists. specialists not only require more courses, they tend to require different and more rigorous courses as well.

of course, not all graduate programs will require this level of preparation. if you’re interested in a graduate program other than physics, or at another university, their requirements may differ, and i would urge you to research those so you have a better idea of what they’re looking for.

i’d also highly recommend you consult with professors or administrators from the program you’re interested in. however, GENERALLY SPEAKING, natural science graduate programs tend to require or prefer what they would call an “honours” program; that is, a specialist.



Jul 02

where the profs at??


So i want to enroll in a class (rlg369) for which i don’t have the prerequisites. Normally this wouldn’t be allowed but i feel like i have sufficient prior knowledge of the subject matter to do well in the class without the prereqs. (rlg205). I’ve emailed a couple people to ask for special permission but no one has replied and its been months. I was just wondering what more ishould be doing and just who i should be talking to.



hey there,

you’ve done everything right, my friend. departments are super sketchy to contact in the summer because half the profs are away conducting research in antarctica and naples and other places i’d much rather be than here (honestly, there’s only so many times i can go to the fox and the fiddle before developing some serious trauma related to honey garlic wings). however, there’s not much you can do but wait.

since a couple of months have gone by, i’m sure your message just got lost in the endless barrage of e-mails the department gets (it happens to the best of us). you may want to send them a follow-up e-mail.

if you’re close enough to campus, you could even drop by the department during business hours (there’s also a number you can call). there’s bound to be someone there. even if they can’t answer your question, they may forward your request to the person who can.

good luck,


Jul 02

disappointed in the course calendar, @ uoft

Hi there,

The timetable indicates that First Year Seminar *Nomos Basileus (‘Law the King’): The Idea of Law in Ancient Greek Thought* falls under Breadth category #2 and the course description puts it in Breadth category #1 so wondering which one is it for real.

Thanks for your help!


hey there,

i called up the lovely lovely people at classics and it is, in fact, a breadth 2 course.

shout out to the guy at the department who was majorly disappointed to learn that they made a mistake when he JUST CHECKED to make sure it was all correct like two days ago. we appreciate all your hard work, my man.

greek statue

the ancient Greeks, shown here looking at the course calendar



Jul 02

working socially


I’m in my second year but I just switched to a sociology major and I hope to get into the UofT Masters of Social Work program after my undergrad. The sociology program requirements are SOC200H1 and SOC202H1. In summer school, I’m taking  SOC200H1 and SOC202H1. Would I be able to NCR SOC202, or no because its a program requirement?

Also, M.S.W admissions requirements say that candidates for admission to the Two-Year M.S.W. Full-Time Program shall have achieved at least a mid-B or better in the final year of full-time study or equivalent, in senior level courses (300 or 400 level). Does this mean that they will only look at the courses I take in fourth year, whether they be 300 or 400 level? Or will they also look at courses that I have taken in 3rd year? If I dont take a full course load in fourth year will they look at my 3rd year marks? And it says that I need a half-credit course in research methodology as well- do SOCC200 and SOC202 count as research methodology courses?

Thank you.


hey there,

you CAN’T cr/ncr any course that’s a program requirement, so you best leave SOC202 alone if you want it to count towards your sociology major.

the only reason we could cr/ncr program requirements last semester is because of the awful fever dream that was the T.A. strike; but now we’re back to normal, kids. back to the absolute delight that is taking courses in the summer. yay.

as for your second question, the wording there seems intentionally ambiguous to me.

i’m going to GUESS that they said it that way so that they have a bit of wiggle room. ’cause on the one hand, it seems to mean pretty clearly that if you took any 100- or 200-level courses in your last year, they won’t consider those; they’ll only look at the senior courses you took in your last year.

but i ALSO have the feeling that if you didn’t take enough 300- and 400-level courses in your fourth year, they might resort to your third year to get a better idea of your academic performance. keep in mind that students applying in their fourth year haven’t completed all their fourth year courses yet, so admissions committees may have no choice but to use their third year in making an initial admission decision.

tl;dr: whatever 300- or 400-level courses you take are likely fair game for consideration. if you don’t take many in fourth year, then they may look at the ones in 3rd year. this is something you’re more than free to ask someone at the faculty, by the way. they don’t have to answer, but you also have every right to ask.

if you’re considering not being full time (that’s less than 3.0 credits) in your final year, i would recommend talking to someone at factor-inwentash about how that might affect your application.

and i’m almost positive soc200 and 202 count as research methodology courses.

good luck with your application. i know you’ll do great. hope it’s not too gruelling.



Jun 29

managing a management tangle

Hello, i know im a bother but i really dont get this. While i was adding courses to my enrollment cart, I read that i should not take any courses that say extension exclusive, however they ARE my required courses.. I am taking management and it is telling me that i am not allowed to take mgm101, mgm102, mgt120, and soc100(as an elective). How can i not take my required courses and i want to study management? I cant avoid theses courses when they are what i need to get my credits. Please help me. Apparently my program is the specialist which only needs ECO. Can i still take the courses for the major ( add MGM and MGT) if i want to switch to the major program, even when it us said they are ordered exclusive?


hey there,

do you want to study management, or have you been admitted to management? because those are two very different things, my friend.

every course you’re trying to add to your enrolment cart has an enrolment control, so if you’re not in management yet, that’s probably why you can’t add those courses to your cart.*

  • MGM101H5 and MGM102H5 have a restriction for management, business, commerce, biotechnology and digital enterprise management students.
  • MGT120H5 is restricted to management, business and commerce students.
  • SOC100H5 is restricted to first-year UTM students.

so that leaves me with a couple of guesses regarding your situation. it would be easier if you’d told me this information and i didn’t have to guess, but hey, life isn’t always a chairful of bowlies, now is it? (but for future askees: PLEASE, info like your campus, year and program would be awesome to know. i might actually be able to answer your question).

if you can’t get into any of those courses, then that tells me that you are neither a management student nor a first-year student. i don’t know what specialist you’re talking about, so i can’t help with that.

but the bottom line is this: you need to be enrolled in a management, commerce or business degree program to be able to take those MGM and MGT courses.

if you ARE already in the management program and you still can’t take those courses, then it could be because you have an exclusion that is preventing you from taking them. if that’s not the case, then you need to take to your registrar’s office about it, because i am out of ideas.

best of luck,


* man, ‘add to cart’ sounds so amazon, doesn’t it? acorn is weird.

Jun 26

you take as looooong as you need

i just finished a gap year, and while i do plan to go back i’ve decided i want to take another gap year. can i pull off a grand total of two gap years in a row or am i in trouble? there doesn’t seem to be too  much info on this, it seems like people come back after a gap year or don’t but i do want to go back just in another year. help?


hey there,

don’t worry – once you’re in the university, you can take as long as you need to complete their degree. people sometimes come back decades later wanting to finish their degree.

all you have to do when you come back is go to your college/faculty registrar’s office, fill out a re-registration form, pay 25 bucks, and then you’re eligible to enrol in courses again!

have fun pretending like austen and fractals are relevant to the real world again!



P.S. keep in mind that if your “gap year” is the result of a deferral of admission, then you only have one year off. so that would be the only case where you could take ONLY one year off.

Jun 25

Ethics & Society & Law & Criminology

Hey! I am invited for the Criminology and Ethics, Society and Law major. I have not applied for any minors other than just majors. What do you think about a double major in Crim and ES&L. Is it doable? Are there any resources where I can get more information on these majors. Do you know any other students who are doing the same thing as me? Thank you so much for your help :)

hey there,

sounds totally doable to me! criminology and ethics, society & law are both areas in social science which complement each other nicely. i can’t think of anyone off the top of my head who’s done it, but i’m sure it’s a common combination.

both POSts have broad requirements including courses POL, PHL and/or ECO, so you’ll probably be able to use some of the same courses to fulfil requirements in both POSts – which is a bonus. gives you more space to take obscure interest-based courses like basket-weaving and visual arts.

ethics, society & law requires 7.0 FCEs, and crim requires 8.0. assuming no overlap, that’s only 15.0 required courses, which is pretty typical for a double major. keep in mind that you would’ve completed some requirements in first year already, so doing the rest in three years is 100% feasible.

as for the level of difficulty, you’ll either like it or you won’t. both POSts deal with similar subject matter, so if you enjoyed/did reasonably well in your first-year POL, SOC, or PHL courses, then you’re likely on the right track.

and hey, it’s better than signing up for a philosophy specialist, right? at least you might actually get a job with these POSts.*

all the best,


* i’m just KIDDING. none of us will have jobs. we’re all screwed. thanks a lot for this wonderful economy, baby boomers.

Jun 25

we’re all just numbers on a spreadsheet. it’s chill tho.

Do we need any ID when submitting OSAP documents to the office of registrar?


hey there,

d’you mean, like, your signature pages and stuff? if you’re on the downtown campus, you won’t be submitting those documents to your registrar’s office. downtown, the office you want is enrolment services.

only UTM and UTSC’s registrar’s offices double as their financial aid offices. so make sure you’ve got the right place.

as far as i know, you don’t need to bring any ID when submitting OSAP stuff to enrolment services. i have no idea about UTM and UTSC. this PDF (see page 36) seems to imply that you only need ID when submitting your MSFAA to a designated Canada Post outlet. but if you want to call them to make sure, that might be the best idea. here’s UTM’s number and here’s UTSC’s.

generally, it’s a great idea to bring ID with you anywhere you go on campus. your TCard will usually be enough in the way of ID, especially at registrar’s offices, ’cause it has your student number on it, and that’s basically the key to your entire life while you’re at this university.

………………but we’re all so much more than just a number here, right? yeah.



Jun 24

go now!!!!!

Hi Aska,

I am contemplating a second degree a couple of years from now but the calendar says the deadline to petition is June 30 . Is that June 2015? Also can St George student petition to do a second degree at utsc? Thanks

Hoping that the deadline isn’t June 2015


hey there,

if you want to start your degree in september, then yeah, it’s this June. so in six days.

your college may give you some wiggle room, but it’s best not to push it. if i were you, i’d hightail to my college registrar’s office ASAP and get the process started. if you can’t go in person, e-mail them – i know you’ve got access to e-mail. in any case, petitions take at least a couple of weeks to process, so the earlier you get in touch with your registrar, the better.



Jun 24


Hey there, thank you for keeping up with these questions.
Architecture requires you to take a double major or a major and two minors from art and science. Now if I take a double architecture major, in architectural design and history, art and criticism, will I still be able to enroll in different courses from art and science majors? Do I get to choose whatever course I want to enrol into? and can I take engineering courses or are my choices limited to art and science programs?
Your old dead pal, John Snow


hey there,

RUDE. didn’t you spare a thought for those poor souls who are behind in their TV viewing before posting a merciless spoiler like that? how dare you. how. DARE. you.

i’m gonna try to move on from my moral indignation to answer this question. because aska is nothing if not professional. oh – and beautiful. i’m also very beautiful.

ok, so i haven’t been able to find much on that accURSED DANIELS WEBSITE that explicitly states that you’re able to take FAS courses, but everything points to it. if you can enrol in FAS subject POSts, you have to be able to enrol in FAS courses (ROSI’s really not smart enough to discriminate between people enrolled in a FAS POSt or not). also, it would be impossible for you to fulfil your breadth requirements without access to non-architecture courses.

the ONLY explicit reference i could find to the fact that daniels students can take FAS courses is this one little sentence on the faculty’s credit/no-credit page:

“Due to the unique relationship between the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design (Daniels Faculty) and the Faculty of Arts & Science, and because Daniels Faculty students are eligible to pursue Faculty of Arts & Science courses and programs of study (Subject POSts), the Daniels Faculty will be following the Faculty of Arts & Science academic practices and procedures in relation to the CUPE strike.”

there you go. found it in writing. Daniels Faculty students are eligible to pursue Faculty of Arts & Science courses. i should be a detective.

as for engineering – nah. you’re stuck with artsci, dude.

xoxo to you, John Snow,


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