your student life specialists

Aug 22

crash-course: living in residence

hey there,

after just finishing a three-part guide to incoming commuter students (parts 1, 2, 3), i thought i’d give some attention to those of you who will get to live on campus this year.

firstly, a quick rundown of the residences: st. george, UTM, UTSC.

between these three campuses, there is every kind of living arrangement you could possibly imagine: townhouses, apartment-style residences, single rooms, double rooms, suite-style…etc. however, here are some tips which make communal living a whole lot easier no matter where you’ll be this year.

1. your residence don will likely make you sign a suite/roommate agreement. try to follow that. otherwise, both your roommate(s) and don are totally entitled to speak with you about it and enforce the rules you agreed to. besides, it’s just easier for everyone involved if there are some rules everyone can be counted on following.

2. learn where and how to do your laundry, preferably before the first time you have to do your laundry. it’ll make things go a lot more smoothly.

here are some tips before you get there: most public washer/dryers require either change or, in some residences, a card loaded with money, to operate. dryer sheets are worth it. it’s rude not to clean the lint tray after you use it. finally, leach, laundry detergent, and fabric softener are all different things and cannot be indiscriminately interchanged.

3. school comes first, but investing a bit of time in participating in rez life pays off.

even if you don’t feel comfortable being part of a residence/house council or hosting events, hanging out in rez with your door open on a regular basis is a great way to become more comfortable with the other people in your residence. you might even have fun.

4. talk to your don about stuff that’s bugging you.

that’s what they’re there for. and if they can’t help you, they’ll set you up with people who can.

5. plan for the weather.

even if your building has AC/heating, a portable heater and fan is a great idea. they’re inexpensive, and if you prefer unnatural temperatures that your floor- or roommates aren’t down with, it’s a way to regulate the temperature in your room without affecting anyone else.

just make sure that your residence is cool with you bringing one first, because i don’t want to make life more difficult for residence staff. i’m sure they already have a hard enough time enforcing the no pets policy.

best of luck with your living arrangements, chums,


Aug 22

uoft’s Most Haunted

Hi Aska,

First of all, your website is AMAZING! I’ve learned a lot and I don’t feel as worried anymore about studying at St. George :)

I have a few questions for you though, that I couldn’t find on the site…

1) I’m going to be living in Annesley Hall, which is apparently near Queen’s Park. I read online/heard from friends that it’s really dangerous there. Is that true? Should I just stay away from the park? What are the places considered dangerous near and around the university?

2) What are the professors and classes like? I’m going to be an exchange student from a really small school, so we know all our professors and most
of our professors know us. It’s pretty easy to get good grades too, as long as you do your homework… I know UofT is a really competitive school, and
the classes are large, as well. Do the professors care at all about the students? Also, do people have laptops or do they write notes?

3) I know this is a stupid question, but is Annesley Hall really haunted? I’m honestly kinda worried because I’m going to be in a single room… lol

Thank you so much!
Worrywart ;)


hey there,

i’m so glad i’ve been able to make you feel less anxious! that’s askastudent’s highest ambition. though, don’t push it. you don’t want to be so relaxed you sleep right through your first class. that’s too much.

1) annesley Hall is just north of Queen’s Park, which, yes, can sometimes have not-so-friendly visitors at night. however, i wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s regularly or significantly unsafe.

if you take some safety precautions, you should be alright. if you can, travel with at least one other person at night. if you’re warned not to cross Queen’s Park one night, then don’t. and if you have a late class and have to walk alone, make sure you have your cell phone with campus police’s number on it. walksmart is also a great resource.

2) it depends on the program, but most first-year classes are really big. you probably won’t get to know any profs personally until third year, maybe second year. BUT most huge first-year courses have tutorials, and if you attend them (which you should), you’ll get to know your TA really well. you’ll be in a class of typically under 50 students, and your TA will make a special effort to make themselves available to you should you have questions.

also, many first years take at least one seminar course, and in some cases it’s even required. those classes are very small and typically include a lot group discussion. they’re a great way to interact directly with a prof.

3) well, when i Googled “annesley hall haunted” the only results i got were about this place in nottinghamshire (which is possibly the most English name i’ve ever heard). there aren’t even any mischievous redditors spreading information about annesley’s haunted reputation, which is a good sign.

honestly, if you’re worried about sleeping alone/away from home, residence is the best place to get acclimated. you’ll sleep on a floor full of your peers and a don qualified to deal with all sorts of emergencies. if you ask them to face-off with a poltergeist, they’ll do it.

or you can turn the tables and get the ghosts on your side. then you can become the MONARCH of an awesome UNDEAD ARMY. WHOO.



Aug 21

transportation in t-dot – part 3: STREETCARS, COMMUTER DONS, and WALKING

hey all,

welcome to PART 3 of aska’s roller coaster of a series about transportation in the city (here’s part 1 and part 2 in case you missed them).

today, we come to the NAIL-BITING CONCLUSION, which resembles so many TV shows in that it is not so much a coherent resolution than it is a random mish-mash of loose ends that i haven’t had a chance to wrap up yet.



1. streetcars

most people who have to use streetcars to get to school have been using them all their lives, and don’t need a guide. just in case you’re brand new to them, here are the basics:

  • you can use your Presto card on streetcars, but you cannot use Metropasses.
  • if you’ve never used one before: streetcars stop in the middle of the road, since they can’t pull over to the side of the road for stops. be prepared to cross half the street in order to board a streetcar. (but do noT WAIT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD).
  • here are all the streetcar routes in Toronto.
  • here is the TTC’s systems map.

2. commuter dons

some colleges within the faculty of arts & science have commuter dons. they provide community in exactly the same way a residence don might – by organizing events, meeting regularly with their residents to help them resolve any issues (and just to hang out), and giving commuter students a home base within the university. they are super helpful and definitely worth your time.

here is some more information about commuter dons/services from colleges who have them:

3. walking

walking sucks, especially when it’s cold and windy outside and deathly icy on the ground. but until we get the funding to build completely enclosed, insulated overhead tunnels to connect all the buildings on campus (my ultimate dream), we will have to continue to brave the elements.

if you’re not familiar with the campus, i’d recommend locating your classes on the uoft map (just type in the building code you see on your personal timetable on ROSI) before classes start. do a practice walk to the buildings, if you can. it’ll help you locate the rooms, and also measure how long it takes to get from one class to another.

if you can’t get to campus before school starts (or if you’re just LAZY), i’d recommend seeing how long Google maps estimates it will take you to walk from one building to another. it’s usually fairly accurate.

that’s it, that’s all, folks. i hope this guide has helped calm the first-time commuter jitters. and remember, if you have any more questions, just send ‘em my way. i promise i’ll only complain a little.



Aug 20

transportation in t-dot – part 2: the SUBWAY

hello friends,

in anticipation of the new batch of commuter students who will be arriving on campus soon, i am releasing a series of guides about transportation in the city. hopefully, that will help you navigate the nightmarish variety of different public transit systems that have all been haphazardly stitched together in toronto without any apparent logic (i mean…i’m totally okay with the  transit here! what?)

here’s part 1 of the guide. and now, onto part 2 – subways!


once you actually get downtown, you’ll probably have to use the subway to get onto campus. you can access the subway using:

1. a Metropass.

if you’re going to be using the subway every day, it’s probably worth your while to get a Metropass. this is a card that gives you unlimited access to Toronto’s subway system. right now, a monthly Metropass costs $108 for students (but who knows how high it’ll climb). to use a discounted card, you will need…

2. a Post-Secondary TTC Student Photo ID.

you can get these for $5.25 (price EDITED) at Sherbourne station.

3. if you’re not going to be using the subway too often, but need to use it occasionally, you can buy tokens at certain subway stations. token prices are here. you can also use your Presto card (if you have one) at certain stations.


4. important subway stations.

there are a few subway stations in and around campus that you will definitely use at least once this year. they are:

- St. George station: St. George opens onto St. George and Bloor, and also a little further East, on Bloor St. you CAN use Presto at this station, but only at the easternmost entrance on Bedford Street. you CAN buy tokens here, at both entrances.

- Museum station: Museum station is at the top of Queen’s Park Circle. you CANNOT use Presto here, and you CANNOT buy tokens here. very pretty, though.

- Queen’s Park station: Queen’s Park is, appropriately, at the bottom of Queen’s Park Circle. you CAN use Presto here, and you CAN buy tokens.

you’ll probably find your way around all sorts of dusty corners of the TTC at one point or another, but these are the stations on campus.

note: technically, you can buy tokens at any subway station from the TTC employee working the booth, but often there is no one there, so that’s a bit of a hit and miss. again, if you will be using the subway a lot, a metropass is a great investment.

if you want to see a map of campus where these stations are marked, go here.

i also took the liberty of measuring via Google Maps how long it takes to walk between the three on-campus subway stations (wow aska, thank you so much, i will commit this to memory and never be late again <3):

St. George – Eastbound Platform to Museum Station – Northbound Platform: 8 mins

Museum Station – Southbound Platform to Queen’s Park Station – Northbound Platform: 11 mins

St. George – Westbound Platform to Queen’s Park – Northbound Station: 16 mins

also, if you want to see where the on-campus subway stations are in relation to your classes, log onto ROSI, click on ‘Personal Timetable’ on the left-hand menu, click on ’2014 Fall’ or ’2015 Winter,’ and then, directly underneath the personal timetable, click on the link where it says ‘You can view a map of your classes located on the UofT Campus. ‘ that’s a neat tool, eh?


5. the TTC subway map.

helpful stuff. though you’ll likely have it memorized after two weeks of being afraid to look anywhere else on the subway except up at the map/ads.

next week: commuter dons, streetcars, and walking (ew).



Aug 19

earning that dough

Hiya! Im joining UofT this fall as an international student.I read somewhere that I can work on campus only 12 hours a week ? Is that correct ? if not what are the rules to work on and off campus? thnx !


hey there,

you’re kind of right, but you’re also not. and if you wouldn’t mind serving as an example to the class for just a moment, this is why it’s always a good idea to ask questions. you’ll almost definitely learn something new, even if you thought you already knew the answer (*cue you sinking down into your seat, embarrassed that the teacher is using you as an example, while everybody stares daggers at you*).

the university of toronto offers many different kinds of jobs to students, including part-time jobs, summer jobs and research positions. these jobs vary widely in the number of hours per week that they require, and also in how much they pay.

however, there’s also a whole separate category of jobs offered by uoft called ‘work-study jobs.’ work-study jobs are a little more restrictive. they all pay the same amount (minimum wage), and you must be taking at least 2.0 FCEs in the Fall/Winter session in order to be eligible for a work-study job. as you can see, you’ve got options aplenty.

wow aska, that’s great, but where do i find all these wonderful jobs?

you can find job postings for work-study and other jobs (both on- and off-campus) on uoft’s career learning network (CLN). just log in using your UTORID, click on ‘Jobs,’ and let the search begin!

if you decide to work off-campus, then it’s up to you to self-regulate. you can figure out how much work is enough, and how much will send you into a complete burnout when exam time hits.



P.S. if you’re an international student, it’s worth reading about the different kinds of work permits you may need to get a job in canada!

Aug 19

transportation in t-dot – part 1: the GO

a lot of the nightmare stories high school students tell about uoft are related to transport. “the campus is so big,” you whisper to each other in lockered hallways, “that people there have to take the subway between classes!”

not true. some of us (including me) are so lazy that we do, in fact, take the subway, but if we (i) weren’t so stubbornly lazy, then we (i) could easily walk.

but people still spread rumours. so i’m here now to GRIND THEM INTO THE DUST.

this crash course for commuters will be divided into three parts because everyone on the internet has the attention span of a goldfish, and none of us want to read anything that’s too long (even this sentence is bordering on challenging for me, and i wrote it).

today: the GO train/bus.


to travel using the GO system, you will need the following:

1. a Presto card.

this baby gets you anywhere (read: mostly anywhere until you really need to use it somewhere and it turns out they don’t take it -.-).

instead of buying a tickets or monthly passes all the time, a Presto card can be reloaded with money for however long you need to use it. you can buy a Presto card at most GO transit terminals or order one online.

to use your card, ‘tap’ it on a Presto machine at your train station or on your GO bus, and voila! you can preset your Presto to a default trip (eg. Oshawa – Union station), or, if you don’t want to do that, just remember to ‘tap off’ (i.e. tap your card at a machine again) when you reach your destination (note: this only applies when you’re using the train, not the bus).

once you get your Presto card, remember to register it online. that’s the only way you can claim it when tax time comes. registering your card also allows you to deactivate it if (let’s be real: when) you lose it.

finally, make sure to ask for a student discount on your Presto. ain’t no sense in getting even more broke than you’re going to be already. and when you do, you’ll need…

2.  a GO Student ID card.

you’ll need to show this card along with your Presto any time someone checks your fare. you can get your GO ID at the T-Card office.

3. GO’s fare calculator.

this is a very helpful tool. use it.

that’s all for now. stay tuned for part 2 of this THRILLING series, which will be about the subway system. you’re on the edge of your seat, aren’t you? yeah, i know you are.



Aug 18

the websites you wish they’d told you about

hey there,

true to form, the university of toronto is as sprawling online as it is in person. there are as many separate websites related to this school as there are individual uoft buildings, and they’re just as hard to navigate.

in fact, i’m always surprised that anyone can find askastudent at all in this mess.

however, there are a few key pages which most students go back to over and over, so i’m just gonna list them now for any first-years (or extraordinarily absent upper-years) who feel like they’re drowning out there in the academic cybersea.

1. the course calendar

this document lists courses, course descriptions, the requirements for every subject POSt at the faculty of arts & science, and the breadth requirement each course meets. read it a lot.

also in the calendar: degree requirements for B.Com., H.B.A. and H.B.Sc. students.

also also in the calendar: rules and regulations (contains information about literally every administrative thing related to your academics, including but not limited to: extra courses, credit/no-credit, late withdrawal, petitions, the dean’s list, and academic standing i.e. probation and suspension stuff). this page is like your daily multivitamin of essential uoft information.

here are the course calendars for other faculties at uoft, and for the other two campuses:

2. the timetable

second only to the course calendar in usefulness, the timetable lists all the courses offered in a certain session, as well as the days/times they’re offered, and the instructor of the course. don’t be put off by the fact that it looks like it glitched out and is only showing the skeleton of its HTML code – this website is the faculty of arts and science’s holy book. (here are utm‘s and utsc‘s timetables).

3. fees

the fees website is its own snarl of interconnected pages, so here are a few important highlights:

4. student life

student life’s main page is a springboard into a host of useful departments at uoft, like accessibility services, the first nations house, and hart house. give that a quick browse for services that may be relevant to you.

and here is ulife’s main page, which lists pretty much every club, organization, committee and team you at this university. you’d be hard pressed to find nothing that piques your interest here.

good luck on your internet odyssey, my intrepid warriors.



Aug 15

it is now open season on uoft courses

if i am on the missigua campus can i take all my classes at the st. george one or at least some?


hey there,

you can definitely take courses at either UTSC or st. george if you’re a utm student.

i’m doubtful that you can take all your courses on another campus. there are no rules specifically stopping you from doing so (that i can find), but if you’re a utm student, you do need to meet the requirements for a utm subject POSt, and that’s pretty much impossible to do without taking at least some classes at utm. there are three different campuses for a reason, after all.

just a note: today happens to be the first day uoft students can enrol in courses at uoft campuses other than their own (thank you for the beautifully timed question, btw), and as you may have noticed, quite a bit of time has passed since course enrolment opened for students on their own campuses.

so if you ever want to take a course at a different uoft campus, you will always run the risk of not being able to get into the course because it’s already full.

but you have the schools’ blessing to try.



Aug 15

PUMP the bank

Hi! I sat in the PUMP lectures/tutorials for the summer but I didn’t pay the fee, so I won’t be given a certificate to show proof that I know high school level math. I want to take first-years maths, but they have pre-reqs. Does the math dept actively check to see if you have the pre-reqs? Thanks.


hey there,

the math department (like every department at uoft) definitely checks up on prerequisites. it depends a little bit from department to department how quickly they make these checks, but it can be done any time between course enrolment and the start of school (“students enroled in courses for which they do not have the published prerequisites may have their registration in those courses cancelled at any time without warning).

basically, there’s no way to sneak into a class.

and since we live in a capitalist society where services are exchanged for monetary compensation, you do have to pay for a course to receive credit for it, just like any other student.

before you join up with zombie Marx and Engels to protest the unfairness of it all, i would contact the people behind PUMP to see about making a late payment.



Aug 15

your degree UPGRADED!

Hi Aska,

OK I am graduating this November. I did a polisci major and a hist and anthro minor. But as I was looking through all my course to insure that I
didn’t miss a breath requirement etc I came to a realization that made me realize what a space-case I am.  I only need a 0.5 400 -level history course to do a double major and a minor. Is there any way I can take one course in fall and still graduate by November? Or will UOFT let me take the course after I graduate and let me upgrade to a double major? Thanks.

Space Case.


hey there space case,

well, be grateful that you didn’t have a more serious realization than that. people discover some nasty things on degree explorer (“wait, what are breadth requirements???…OH NO.”)

there’s no way to take a course now (like, for the Fall 2014 session) and graduate by november. however, you can graduate in november and take the course as a non-degree student. the course and mark will appear on your uoft transcript once you complete it.

you can talk to your college registrar about the possibility of updating your transcript to include that extra major after you complete the history course, but the subject POSts you graduate with will be the ones on your degree.



Aug 14

why people care about the dean’s list: a brief psychoanalysis

I’ve been seeing all these posts about the Dean’s list, but what is it for exactly? I mean, there’s no monetary compensation, I don’t get anything cool out of it except for a piece of (useless) paper, and I can’t really do anything with it.


hey there,

well now, the dean’s list is not completely useless. it can be used as scrap paper. it can be used to make a paper airplane. if you get a lot of them, you could make a whole fleet.

for some people, it also has less physically practical uses like improving their self-worth, making them feel proud of their (often very difficult to achieve) accomplishments, and motivating them to continue working hard on their academics. after all, not everyone gets on the dean’s list, and it’s nice to feel that the university appreciates your hard work. plus, it’s great to put on your resume.

but, you know, what’s that compared to a real-life, well-constructed paper airplane made from sturdy card paper fresh from the university? not much, without monetary compensation. not much.


Aug 14

the perforated arts

Hi aska I attend a performing arts school. I am applying to social sciences/humanities at st George and was wondering if our arts area (music course) is included in our top 6 marks?


hey there,

hmm. you didn’t state this explicitly, but i’m going to assume you’re an ontario high school student, because i’m pretty sure you wouldn’t know about the top 6 thing if you weren’t.*

if the course you’re taking is a 4U or 4M course (that is, a university or mixed grade 12 course), and the mark you get in that course is one of your top 6 marks out of all the 4U or 4M class you take, then yes, it would be included.

basically what i’m saying is that if a course is in your top 6 4U/M marks then it is in your top 6 4U/M marks. so. did i misunderstand the question?

if the school you’re at doesn’t classify courses as either O (open), C (college), M (mixed) or U (university), then you’ll need to look up what the requirements are in your own school system’s language.



*i will continue to post pics of famous english men as reactions on here until you’re all convinced i’m an attractive, 40-year-old white guy. convinced, but still with the tiniest hint of self-doubt that aska just might be something much, much greater…

Aug 13

level up!

how do you know the level of the course?


hey there,

wow, i wish the campuses all synchronized the way that they marked course levels, but noPE. one of ‘em had to go another way.

st. george/UTM

1**: first year

2**: second year

3**: third year

4**: fourth year


A**: first year

B**: second year

C**: third year

D**: fourth year

note that the “level” of a course does not necessarily correspond with the year in which you have to take it. as long as you meet all prerequisites for any given course and you’re not breaking any rules (for example UTSG’s rule on how many 100-series credits you can put towards your degree, you are allowed to take the courses in any year you like).



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