your student life specialists

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.



Oct 06

You Won’t Believe What One Girl Did to Destroy her Existential Angst

Hi there!

I am a first year in UTSG and from my topic, you guessed it! I have absolutely no clue what i want to major in and the anxiety is eating me inside out.

This thought has boggled my head so much since money for my tuition is a real problem for me. The financial burden makes me want to ensure that what
i take will be worth every penny so i tried going for a full on 6 credits over my first year but little by little, i dropped my courses after figuring out how I have no interest(or previous knowledge) in the courses at all. Plus, it’s no joke how serious U of T takes each and every course. Now, I’m at 4 credits.

I entered U of T in Psychology with the notion that by studying about your mind, you will have a better chance of knowing what you want to major in. Ironically, going through my first few weeks in U of T taught me so much more and i have not even started my first psych class(i got the one for next term). I made the decision that what i study and what i want to do will be two separate entities so i got that covered for me. I do what I want to do outside of Uni and I study what i want to study inside of uni. Only problem is, i’ve been finding it hard to figure out what i want to\ major in after looking through U of T’s courses.

What do people normally want to major in in UTSG? What does UTSG facilitate more? Arts students or science students? What do you do should you realize that U of T isn’t for you? I am writing this letter not to ask about transferring to another University but to ask about your personal experience about finding what you want to study and where one might get help on this topic on campus.


Your average stressed out first year


hey there,

in 100 years’ time, this e-mail will be exhibit 1.a under the heading: ‘Millennials in Crisis: Dealing with the Existential in a University Context in the Early 2000s.’

gen y crisis

The literature chronicling our freak-outs is quite extensive.

as someone who is (mostly) standing on the other side of this academic crisis, i think i can say with some confidence that the issue is not that you don’t have the answers, but that you’re asking the wrong questions. yeah. i’m a veritable Buddha of academic advice.

let’s just go through your questions step by step, before i compare myself to any more sacred cultural figures:

1) what do people normally want to major in in UTSG? does uoft better facilitate studies in arts or science?

there is literally no answer to that question. aside from the fact that the mixing and matching you’re allowed (even expected) to do with POSts allows for an almost infinite number of majors, minors and specialists, uoft does not have a particular inclination to any one area.

i’m not going to argue (as some overzealous uoft folks sometimes like to do) that uoft is the best university in literally every discipline. we’re not.

however, across the fine arts, humanities, and the social, applied and pure sciences, we’ve got consistently strong and diverse programs, and between all three campuses, pretty much every area of study’s been covered.

uoft is not a tech school, and it’s not a liberal arts college. more than anything, uoft is big. if you search long enough, you’re likely to find yourself somewhere around here. but uoft is not going to hand you any obvious choices.

i can tell you that psych is a pretty popular subject POSt. PSY100, which i guess is the class you’re taking next semester, is a good litmus test for figuring out if you actually enjoy or care at all about psychology. so that’s a step in the right direction.

process of elimination is a great way of figuring out what you want to study. if you take a wide range of different classes in first year, chances are, you can cross out a whole bunch of areas as definite ‘no’s,’ and that brings you a lot closer to figuring out what you’ll say ‘yes’ to.

also, don’t worry too much about doing 4.0 FCEs/term. lots of people do that. if finances are an issue, i would suggest looking into the ontario tuition grant, work-study jobs, your college’s bursary/emergency grant options, and UTAPS.

2) what do you should you realize that uoft isn’t for you?

get out. it’s not worth your time or your money.

that said, the issue may not be that uoft is not for you. it could be that your program is not for you, or your course load is too heavy, or your living arrangements are stressing you out, or your health is in a bad place, or you’re not connecting enough with the community to feel really excited about it.

if you’re starting to feel unhappy, don’t just push it to one side until it becomes this all-consuming, nebulous thing, like an itch without any clear point of origin. sit down and ask yourself what exactly is making you unhappy. be as specific as possible. write it down as a list, even.


things i hate list

A list is a great way to figure out what you like, and what you don’t like, about university.

once you have the list, go through it point by point and try and come up with some solutions for each point. if one of those solutions is to leave uoft, or university altogether, then that’s what you should do.

obviously, don’t just write a list and drop out the next day. give yourself some time to chew on it. talk to your registrar’s office. go to the career centre and book a career advising appointment, or participate in one of their career exploration programs. as well as being a welcome financial help, work-study jobs can help you explore your interests in a much more concrete way than in the classroom.

i know you’re already at school, but maybe it might help to come out to fall campus day. pretend you’re coming to university for the first time and just visit a bunch of different people. which programs excite you? which ones do you like talking to? that can also help you clarify some things.

just be honest with yourself. most people have a pretty good handle on what they like doing, and what they don’t. sometimes, though, our interests and priorities don’t match up with those of the people around us, and that makes us question them. try to block out the voices of your parents, your peers, the NSLC, etc. ask yourself what you actually want.

finally, don’t be too stressed that you have no idea what you want to do yet. it’s only september of your first year – you’ve got four years – at least – ahead of you to decide, change your mind, decide again, change again, etc. if you’ve already gotten past the homesick phase, that in itself is an accomplishment. clarity about your academics will come in time, if you put in the work to figuring them out.

best of luck,


Oct 02

gotta keep an eye on those POSt deadlines


I was hoping you could provide some guidance with accepting my invitation to an econ minor on ROSI. I had applied for it somewhere during August but now (Sept 27) that I see my invitation on ROSI, if I try to accept it, I get an error: “6703 – Subject POSt is not eligible for WEB enrolment”. I intend on graduating after the winter semester and was hoping on doing my minor in economics.

Do you have an idea as to what could be wrong? Thanks!


hey there,

it’s likely because the deadline to accept invitations from the second enrolment period for type 2 and 3 subject POSts (the eco minor is a type 2) was september 21st. you came too late to the game, champ.

if you want to accept it now, you’ll have to contact your college registrar’s office to see if that is still a possibility.



Oct 02

how minor is not doing a minor?

Hi Aska,

If I’ve fulfilled all the requirements for my specialist, are there any negative consequences to not finishing all the requirements for a minor I enrolled in (sort of on a whim)? I’m graduating in June and I haven’t removed the POSt from ROSI just in case I decide to take that extra 0.5 FCE that would get me the minor next semester, but I also don’t want it to show up on my transcript or somewhere else as incomplete if I ultimately don’t take the last 0.5 FCE.

Thanks a lot!


hey there,

nah. since having one specialist is an acceptable combination of subject POSts to graduate, there aren’t any real, practical impediments to not completing the minor.

however, you do need to “ensure that your subject POSts (specialists, majors and/or minors) are correct and up to date on the SWS,” as artsci puts it (saying “the SWS” instead of ROSI kinda reminds me of how older people say “the Internet” instead of “online”).

since we have just passed the deadline to delete subject POSts yourself, you’ll have to go to your college registrar’s office to get that minor deleted (if you decide that’s what you want to do), so that everything on ROSI accurately reflects your current academic status.

congrats on your graduation, and best of luck in the real world!


Sep 30

no, i DON’T have $3 for a hot dog

The most important question I’ll ever ask: Where’s the free food at?


hey there,

finally, people are asking about the real issues. i’m so proud of you for being brave enough to voice what’s really on all our minds.

there used to be this really great uoft account that just tweeted different places on campus you could get free food, but as far as i can tell, that account no longer exists. some things are just too good to last, i guess.

however, UTSU often has events with free food, so following them would be a wise move. for example, their free Welcome Back BBQ was just two weeks ago. your respective college’s student life twitter almost definitely tweets about free food events, too.

what? you don’t know your own college’s twitter? fine. here we go:

innis, new, st. mike’s, UC, vic, woodsworth and trin/trin.

itsfreeuoft is another godsend of a twitter account. it tweets about all sorts of free things, not just food, but i figure it’s still worth it.

best of luck in your noble quest, and please, remember to keep your ol’ pal aska updated on where the free pizza’s at.


Sep 30

admissions averages changing like a boggart at a concert

Hey aska I heard that the humanities average for St George went up from its usual 80-84 average. I can’t get ahold of admissions and I’m applying in November Could you please tell me if it changed?


hey there,

i can’t believe people are already applying for another year of school. soon, aska’s time will be over and a new generation of students will be here…all of them smarter, quicker, and more energetic than aska…sigh…

anyway. existential blip over.

the average you need to get in every year is kind of impossible to tell. it changes every single year, depending on how ruthless your competition is.

what you can do is take a look at the anticipated averages of people who entered uoft in this year. that number can give you a rough idea of what you may need to be a competitive applicant. however, it’s a guide more than it is a rule.

crazy stuff happens in the uni admissions arena. nothing is for certain. that said, if you know the average averages of the previous entering class, you’ve got a pretty good handle on what you’ll likely need to get in, too.

good luck,


Sep 29

coming back strong

HI Aska,
I am in a terrible predicament. This is going to be long so please bear with me.
I started at U of T Life Science program in 2009 and I am still at it. This is my sixth year at U of T and I am still in my Third year based on the credits I have obtained.
So, basically my story is that two of my family members died in first year and I started my slide downward from there on. I went from a 3.7 gpa to a 3.3. In second year, I did found out that my grandmother’s cancer was back and had metastasized. I did okay but i started losing interest in my studies. In the ended up with a 2.8 GPA. My grandma passed away in the summer before my 3rd year. And I pretty much started ruining my academic career… I did the first semester (with 3 courses) of 3rd year and dropped out the second semester with a GPA of 2.5.
Came back the next year and pretty much did the same thing as the previous year – did one course in first semester and dropped out of the rest. I thought that was the lowest I could go but, low and behold I didn’t get any help from anyone. I went to my college registrar’s office and they basically said that i should try to do better and try all the resources available at u of t. I pretty much was so depressed that I just continued on a self-destructive pathway and decided to come back in for another year 2013-2014. I pretty much failed everything. GPA plummeted to 2.1.
When my family asked me about how I haven’t finished university yet I didn’t have any answer. I had just spent five years of uni, wasted tons of money and only ended up with 11.5 credits and 2.1 GPA. My family sought of help an intervention (for lack of a better word) and told me to get my life back in control. They told me what i already knew that I was ruining my life and all the potential that I had. I have gained 40 lbs over this period cause pretty much all i did was stay in my bed and stuff my face with food. I had decided to just give up on uni but, seeing my parents crying because of what I was doing to myself sought of gave me a final spark to do something with what I had left of my university career.
So, finally to the question I have for u. (Sorry for the long rant about my sordid past). I am back for another year. This is my sixth year in u of t. I have 11.5 credits so I am considered a third year student and have a GPA of 2.1. Is there any chance that I could actually salvage any the rest of my academic career?? I know I should have asked for help a longtime ago but, now that I am finally getting to it is there anything u can suggest?
Thank you,
Looking for a light in the dark tunnel of my life.


hey there,

well, your health and wellness is your number one priority. if you feel unhappy with where you are in your life, then attending to that is important. on campus, CAPS and Counseline are great counselling services, if you think you could benefit from that.

the academic success centre is your go-to place for academic support. your college’s writing centre is another good resource.

i’m sure your college registrar gave you the same resources, and more. all these resources, though, assume that you’re going to decide to complete your degree. if you’ve returned to school, obviously i want everything to work out for you at school.

however, you don’t want to be doing anything that seems worthless to you. that’s just not cool.

if you’re doing your degree for a purpose (e.g. a job, to get an additional degree/certificate, interest in the topic of study etc.), then not only do i think you can salvage your academic career, but that you should.

on the other hand, if school makes you miserable and your previous difficulties have been a result of doing university instead of what you really want to do, then, honestly, drop it like a hot potato.

if you are invested in seeing this through to the end, you totally can. it’s possible to improve your GPA from a 2.1 with 8.5(+) credits to go. you just have to do a bit of exploring to find a support system that can help you.

the awesome services i listed are included in the fees you pay every year, so why not take advantage of them?

at the very least, you owe it to yourself to investigate a little bit, and see which, if any, of these resources can be useful to you. once you build a network of support, success will seem a lot easier, and maybe you can even start to see that light at the end of the tunnel.



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