your student life specialists

May 29


Hey aska, how do I get involved with the sports community at U of T (St. George Campus)? more specifically, what’s the process involved to if you want to try out for one of the Varsity Blues sports teams? Thanks in advance


hey there,

i find it oddly charming that you’re asking me about sports so earnestly. i can’t even dribble a ball. just looking at a hurdle makes my thighs ache. but although i know next to nothing about playing sports, i do know how to google a thing or two, so here we go!

sports! sign

aska is both passionate about and dedicated to the watching of sports(!)

most open tryouts for the 2015-16 season take place near the beginning of the academic year (the earliest tryouts, for male baseball, are in mid-august). keep an eye out here to find out when tryouts are for your athletic competition of choice.

just make sure you register by the deadline (they’ll be listed on the tryouts page as the summer progresses) and complete your eligibility and medical forms (not yet available on the tryouts page – but soon) before showing up to try out.

you’ll also want to know if you’re eligible to play football or calvinball or sportball or whatever it is you want to play. you can check that here.

and that’s pretty much it! then all you gotta do is show up, get the quaffle in the hoop, knock the baseball out of the court with your bat, and you’re in!

good luck,


P.S.: some other ways to get involved with athletics at uoft include: intramural sports, registered classes at hart house, and working out at the gyms at goldring, hart house and the athletic centre. also, running from one end of campus to another when you only have ten minutes between classes. that one’s my favourite. ha ha.

May 28

subject POSt spotlight: FOREST CONSERVATION

forest conservation is one of those programs that you only know about if it’s something you’re already interested in. however, such a dynamic program as this one shouldn’t be as niche as you think it is. you don’t have to be a farm boy from northern ontario to pursue this degree.

with applications in environmental, political, policy-making and scientific careers, forest conservation can lead to a host of exciting opportunities.

what is this program?

exactly what it sounds like. you learn about forests, from every angle and discipline: ecology, science, urban planning, and biology. forestry combines “traditional ecological (biology, zoology) and physical (soil science, hydrology) sciences with social sciences.

it’s a truly interdisciplinary program, one that will prepare you for “[r]esponsible stewardship of our forests.” which sounds a little bit like you’ll be some kind of benevolent tree god after completing this program – and what’s not to like about that?

does this program have any prerequisites?

most of the forest conservation POSts recommend you take BIO120 and a smattering of other courses in your first year to stay on track.

however, all the programs are type 1’s, so as long as you’ve completed 4.0 FCEs, you can enrol in any forest conservation program instantly.

what kind of a degree do i get with this program?

an H.B.A. or an H.B.Sc., depending on which POSt you go for. the forest conservation science programs will be – you guessed it – an H.B.Sc., and the forest conservation programs will be an H.B.A.

from the calendar: “The arts program focuses on communal forest management, development of forest policies, forest economics and forest product trade, with electives in social sciences, while the science program concentrates on forest biology and ecology with electives in life and physical sciences.

either way, both the science and arts programs are super diverse and super relevant, especially in a Canadian context.

what jobs/opportunities are available for this program?

the faculty of forestry also offers a Master of Forest Conservation (MFC), Master of Science in Forestry (MScF) and PhD program. the master’s program incorporates a three-month internship into its course structure.

graduates are employed in a diverse number of positions, from park planning to wildlife protection to international development. take a look at some alumni profiles here.

now go hug a tree, forest nymph,


May 28

who appeals to engineering?

Hi :( If i am refused admission to an engineering program, what are the chances of me being reconsidered after my final marks of the semester are out, if they are much higher? To whom may I write an appeal to? (I called the engineering office and they encouraged me to write an appeal) And what do you recommend I write?
Also, on my rejection e-mail, it says that after June 4, OUAC will list the programs that have space remaining in UofT. How likely is it that engineering programs will be on this list?
Thank you aska, i’ve asked u a lot of questions in the past and u always come through. Thank u <3 hopefully i can be at uoft starting next year and continue to pester u with questions lmao


hey there,

i’ve never heard of any faculty at uoft considering an admissions appeal, so i’m surprised that anyone at engineering told you to write one. it’s not mentioned in engineering’s explanation of appeals and petitions, and appeals tend to be for current students.

if they were to accept it, though, feel free to ask enrolment services who you can address it to, and how you should structure it. i don’t think i can give much advice on how to write it though, since i didn’t even think it was possible.

i have no idea if engineering will be on that list. it’s possible you might get an alternative offer in engineering – track one instead electrical, for example. however, since i don’t know what your grades look like and i don’t know how engineering handles admissions, i can’t say how likely that is. you might get an alternate offer from the faculty of arts & science. you might not receive an alternate offer at all. i’m not sure.

it’s possible that you’ll be reconsidered for admission when your final marks come out. decisions are being made on an ongoing basis, so you may still hear something; again, this is something that’s decided internally by admissions and i have no way of knowing when the last batch of decisions will be made.

i realize that i pretty much just gave you three paragraphs saying ‘i don’t know’ in different words, and i’m sorry about that. i’m sorry i wasn’t able to come through with such great news this time; unfortunately, admissions is just one of those things that the university likes to keep under lock and key. and then put in a box. and then lock that box. and then throw the box in a river.

the best thing you can do is keep in communication with enrolment services and the engineering undergraduate admissions office with any of these questions. they will do everything they can to answer your questions and help you out.

best of luck, and i hope it works out,


May 27

but i NEED to take this advanced semiotic bird-watching course!!

Hey aska! do you know if anyone’s successfully gotten their registrar to enrol them into a course that’s full? especially if it’s for their major? Thanks in advance!


hey there,

it’s definitely possible. however, you do need to have some kind of extenuating circumstance for your request to be considered. see, i bolded that bit because “i just really want to take this course pretty please also do you even know who i AM” is not an extenuating circumstance. so stop asking, CARL.*

by far the most common reason a student might be enrolled in a course they can’t access – for whatever reason – is through the dean’s promise, which is something that people often misuse, so i’ma just explain it right now for you.

it goes like this: the dean’s promise is for graduating students who need a specific course to complete their program requirements and graduate on time. if that one course is full, and you won’t graduate unless you take that course, then the registrar’s office at your college/faculty can try to get you in.

HOWEVER, if the course is one of a group of courses that you can take to satisfy a requirement, if you’re looking to fill a breadth requirement which can be completed through many courses, or if you’re in any other situation where you have more than exactly one course option, the dean’s promise does not apply. it’s basically a last resort (also, it has a deadline of August 1st, so keep that in mind).

in some cases, it is also possible for the department to enrol students in a course, but again, that’s on a case-by-case basis.

the long and short of it is this: if you have a unique situation, it doesn’t cost you anything to swing by your registrar’s office and plead your case. throw it against the wall and see what sticks, is what i say.



* just kidding, carl. you know we’re good.

May 27

my degree will say ‘could have tried more and drank coffee less’

If I put complete my degree in 2016, but put my convocation off until 2017, what will my degree say? Does it state the year of convocation or the year I completed my credits?


hey there,

well, ‘degree’ is a nebulous and unspecific term.

what does it all mean sticky

Researchers continue the heated debate about what having a degree actually means – if anything

it’s simultaneously a physical diploma, a ROSI record accessible by you, your college and your faculty, and a collection of experiences spanning at least four years. it’s your first house party and your first all-nighter. it’s algorithms and allegories and Aristotle and Aeropostale and having enough change for the food truck.

it’s also probably a number of developing wrinkle/stress lines from years of stressing constantly about school work. thanks for that one, uoft.

if you’re talking about the actual parchment on which your diploma is printed, that will list the date of your convocation ceremony. however, if you need something saying that you’ve completed all your program requirements and you’re eligible to graduate before you show up on that King’s College green, you can always get a Letter Confirming Graduation from the Faculty of Arts & Science Registrar’s Office.

and your ROSI account will always be available for you to reference and order a transcript from, should you need something listing specific courses you took, your GPA, etc.

congrats on finishing all your program requirements, ya lucky rutabaga,


May 26

probation station 2: engineers gone wild

Hello, I’m a second year ece student. I was not able to get a 60% average this semester so I became a PRO2 student. So sadly I cannot continue to 3rd year and I’m supposed to withdraw for 8 months (I can start again in the winter term). So I lose a year. My question is what would be the most beneficial path to take?

I filed a petition so uft would let me take those electives required by my faculty. I started looking for jobs and I applied to IBM. My cgpa is really low 1.77 so I doubt I’ll get in. What do you suggest I do? I don’t have any real work experience. I’m gonna list the options that I see right now and you can add to them or alter them.

1) If the petition is granted, I can take the elective courses and make 3rd year and 4th year a bit easier.

2) Work in an engineering company to get the 600 hours done (the problem with this choice is I’m not sure if its realistic, If I can use the 3 summer months to gain enough experience or to do beneficial things to make this choice possible, then I would do it, Sub questions: is it possible for me to get an engineering job? What would be a better alternative? What other ways can I finish my 600 hours without losing more time? I was planning to do a pey year but now I don’t want to because my degree will take (4 + 1 repeated year + pey year = 6 total years) instead of (4 + pey year = 5 total years). If i can finish my 600 hours I can still finish my degree in a total of 5 years. Does it have to be an engineering job to receive hours? Where can I find work in this area (I looked at some
websites that uft provide, any more you know of, other options etc)?

3) Work in a retail/fast food to gain work experience

4) Take training courses so i can be a better candidate for engineering jobs

Any advice is appreciated, there are many choices and I don’t know which one to focus on and which one is realistic.


hey there,

1) if your petition is granted, then yeah, it would be nice to take some electives and make things a bit easier on yourself. on the other hand, if you fail to get a above a 60% average in the next term, you won’t be invited for readmission. meaning that the next term you take is going to be absolutely crucial.

i’d strongly consider talking to your registrar’s office for advice before you make a decision – about your petition, about jobs, about school in general. they can help you figure out your next steps.

that might include visiting the academic success centre, or CAPS, or any of a myriad of other resources available on campus. however, i cannot overstate how important an academic advisor is in helping you plan those next steps.

all in all, you want to work on making your situation as optimal as possible for when you come back to school. your registrar can help you do that.

2)/3) from what i can tell, it looks like the 600 hours do not have to be in a job specific to engineering. in all the descriptions i’ve read, they’re very careful about remaining vague about the type of job that’s allowed.

as long as the job “contain[s] a good measure of responsibility (e.g., management of programs, systems, equipment, personnel or finances), sound judgment and effective communication,” it should be fine. that’s an exceptionally vague description, so i’m sure lots of non-engineering jobs qualify. the site even specifies that “[w]ork in many facets of industry, government or public service would be acceptable for this requirement.

so there are probably some non-engineering jobs that will qualify – though i’m sure not all of them will. you may want to double check any likely candidates with the engineering career centre.

as for where to look: CLN’s job board is pretty good – so is its engineering counterpart. linkedin is another great resource. then you’ve got your general job posting sites like indeed, monster, etc. if there are any specific companies you’re interested in, you may want to keep a tab on their careers page in case anything comes up.

i can’t tell you which jobs you should be applying for – i’m afraid i just don’t know enough about the field. however, this is another thing that would be great to bring up at a meeting with your registrar. they can take a look at your transcript and discuss what would be feasible/beneficial for you right now.

4) maybe, but i have no idea what courses would actually be useful. the way i see it, your academics are the most important thing right now, and planning out a road map with – you guessed it – your registrar, is the absolute best next step.

best of luck with all this. i know how tough this must be; engineering is no walk in the park, regardless of your GPA. don’t lose hope, though. you’ll get through it, and you’ll end up with a solution that you’re happy with and excited about.

all the best,


May 25

5 ways to get involved with ‘small community’ at uoft

“small community” is a term you hear a lot when talking about uoft. an institution that has hoarded so many resources has a lot to be proud of, but there is one thing it cannot get away from. with all its additions, faculties, departments, and colleges, uoft has gotten big. very big.

no matter how much uoft trumpets its award-winning programs, brags about alumni, and pumps money into research, there is one thing it can’t get away from, and it’s the one thing prospective students have been asking for years now.

“how can i be part of a small community on campus? how can i avoid being just a number in this massive institution?”

fair question. uoft is notorious for lacking community. turnout at varsity games is a frequent target for people who’d like to kick the stuffing out of uoft. the sheer size of campus and the student body is more than enough to discourage folks. and it’s not something that’s escaped uoft’s notice.

because it might be our biggest weakness, connecting with students has become something of an obsession at uoft, and the constant attention paid to this issue has actually resulted in a lot of small communities. more, paradoxically, than you might find at a lot of smaller universities.

so here are just five ways to get involved with small community on campus:

1. First Nations House

i could spend all day talking about how great First Nations House is. located at 563 Spadina Ave. on the 3rd Floor, FNH provides “a positive environment for all students to engage with UofT’s vibrant and diverse Aboriginal community.

FNH connects aboriginal and Metis students with bursaries and scholarships, academic counselling and tutoring, and a fabulous resource centre with printed and audio materials specific to aboriginal culture. Elder in Residence Andrew Wesley and Traditional Teacher in Residence Lee Maracle are also available to provide students with guidance and support.

in addition, FNH has its own orientation for new students, and there are multiple aboriginal student groups on campus.

2. Chestnut Residence

Chestnut Residence is the only UTSG residence not affiliated with any FAS college. if you’re not a part of the faculty of arts & science or you’re not interested in living in a college-specific residence, consider chestnut!

as a converted hotel with 24 floors and a dining hall that looks like (and probably used to be) a ballroom, it’s a truly unique place to live. with three graduate floors, two single-sex floors and residents in all uoft faculties, it’s a diverse and robust community. check it out here.

3. Hart House

i sometimes wish Hart House was a college – except that would be totally unfair, since it has its own pool. however, the community atmosphere around Hart House is a very collegial one. with its own student spaces, creative and fitness classes, and student organizations, it has all the cogs of a collegial clock. and it’s the students who really make Hart House tick.

Hart House hosts student musical groups, social justice/civic engagement groups and artistic/creative clubs and committees. they also have a gym, creative and fitness classes, and a library. they it’s a really, really cool place to be involved with.

4. Multifaith Centre

the multifaith centre is located at 569 spadina ave., and it’s a great resource for people of all faiths (the name kinda gave that away, huh?). the centre’s Campus Chaplains Organization has chaplains from a dizzying number of faiths, all available to help you.

they also provide student spaces and grief support.

5. Sexual & Gender Diversity Office

located in Room 415 of 21 Sussex Ave. – also known as the Clubhouse – is uoft’s Sexual & Gender Diversity Office. i only have one complaint with the SGDO, and that is with the naming. to call it an ‘office’ is to limit it immensely; it’s so much more than that. the SGDO is a community hub, a hangout space, and a network of kind and supportive people.

the office “work[s] towards equity and challenging discrimination.” they do this by providing a student study space, hosting a film series, and providing lots of opportunities for community-building between LGBTQ students and allies.

May 25

a very important date

Where do I go to find out what days frosh is happening?


hey there,

frosh week this year will be the second week of september, from the 7th to the 13th. however, you’ve come a bit early to the party. orientation is still being planned, and so a lot of the details aren’t out yet. however, keep your eye on this page. when events start being solidified, the exact dates and times of different events will be posted there.

frosh week is a composite of elements common to all uoft students, and events specific to your faculty/college. some faculties/colleges have already started providing information about Orientation 2015, and some haven’t. i’ll post all the links i could find below:

hope you have a radical frosh week. remember to chant/cheer unironically and look both ways before you cross the street,


May 25

you can only communicate with clubs via ouija board

Where do you go to sign up for clubs?


hey there,

there’s no one place to go. as with so many things at uoft, clubs are decentralized and all operate differently, according to their own whimsical rules.

the most concentrated and unified place and time to sign up for clubs is clubs day during orientation week. this year, that takes place on september 9th, from 10am-2pm. over 300 UTSU-recognized clubs will be present at this year’s clubs day, so it’s worth a visit.

but if you miss that, DON’T PANIC. it’s not the end of the world. you can still sign up for lots and lots of clubs at a later time/date. feel free to browse all uoft organizations here. most of them will have their own sign-up process, so all you have to do is find a few you’re interested and inquire within, as they say.



May 22

apply, apply, good friends, apply


So I missed the January deadline to apply as an internal applicant to transfer from UTSC to St. George. Is there any point in applying now for September 2015 studies at St.George or do you think I need to wait until next year and hope that I can be approved to study downtown in second semester?

Just wondering.

Thanks a bunch!


hey there,

assuming you’re applying to the faculty of arts & science, you missed the deadline by quite a long shot there. i’m not sure if it would still be possible for you to apply the traditional way.

however, you’ve got nothing to lose by contacting enrolment services, explaining your situation, and asking if there’a any way for you to apply at this point.

i’m not saying there is a way, but it’s always worth it to ask.

if you do have to wait though, you’ll have to wait the full year. because a lot of downtown courses are full-year courses, full-time degree students can only be admitted to the faculty in the Fall term of any given year.

best of luck,


May 22

a yorker within our borders!

I have just completed my 1st year of studies in Economics at York University. I am e-mailing because I am hoping to transfer to the University of Toronto, however I am uncertain as to how the transition would happen considering my circumstances: I am currently on academic probation at York University, my high school marks were also not very good, and I have also not taken MCV4U. I have looked into retaking MHF4U and taking MCV4U in adult school, however my options are extremely limited or do not work well around my schedule.

I am aware that there are university courses that can be taken to either further improve and strengthen my current knowledge and skills in mathematics or act as a replacement for MHF4U and MCV4U, and I have also looked into retaking a few of my courses to improve my average, however I am uncertain which options are best to consider and which are best to avoid.

I would greatly appreciate it if you could provide me with advice on how to transfer smoothly from the Economics program at York University to the Economics program at the University of Toronto.

Thank you for your time, I look forward to hearing back from you.


hey there,

ah, the super formal question strikes again. i love people who address me as if i’m some kind of SUPER OFFICIAL DIGNITARY of the university. maybe when i’m able to afford rent, i’ll get somewhere close to that. maybe.

anyway, i don’t know what economics is like at york, but at uoft, it’s something of a holy grail. a lot of people apply to economics programs every year, and few people get in. i haven’t seen your marks, and “not very good” is super relative as a descriptor for marks, so i’m not gonna pass a judgement on how competitive your transcript is without even seeing it.

however, transfer students typically need a B average to be considered for admission to the university of toronto. if you’re on academic probation at york, it might be a bit difficult for you to transfer, and i think it would be a good idea to talk to an academic advisor at york.

first year is by no means an indication of how successful your degree will be, but if you’d like to make a change, it’s always a good idea to talk to someone about it – someone besides me, i mean. someone with, like, real qualifications and silk blouses and a place that doesn’t always smell vaguely like ham.

in order to transfer into econ here, you’ll need to complete the equivalent of uoft’s ECO100Y1 – which at york is ECON1000 and ECON1010 – with at least a 67%.

you’ll also need a full year of first-year university calculus. if you haven’t completed high school calculus, you wouldn’t be admitted straight to econ here. if you were admitted, you’d likely come in as a general, program-less student, and then have the opportunity to apply to economics once you’re at uoft.

i’d strongly recommend PUMP as an alternative to night school/adult school. if you’re admitted to uoft, you can take that before enrolling in MAT133Y1/MAT135+136/MAT137 – from there, you could apply to econ.

finally, while it’s totally possible to complete your degree as slowly or quickly as you need to, i’d recommend thinking about this before proceeding. if you have an extremely limited schedule or your situation is a bit tricky right now, it might be best to prioritize other things in your life that may need more attention.

obviously it’s entirely your call; if you want to apply, you should. keep pursuing what’s right for you. but just remember: you should always be your number 1 priority. econ will always be there when you’re ready, graphing stuff, talking about the bottom line, optimizing things. don’t you worry.

all the best,


May 21

i’m gone

Hey aska,
So I’m planning to take a year off from fall 2015 and resume fall 2016. Do you know if my rosi account will be affected in any way/deactivated in my absence? I noticed a ‘reactivate PIN’ option on rosi’s login page so I was wondering if I’d have to do that. Also, will my utorid/webmail and related services (such as MyRes student residence portal) be deactivated?



hey there,

nope, your ROSI account will be totally fine. it can take care of itself while you’re away. if you’re away for at least a full calendar year, you’ll have to re-register at your college registrar’s office so that you can enrol in courses and pay your fees, but that is a relatively painless process and shouldn’t take more than a day.

the ‘reactivate PIN’ option is for people who’ve forgotten their PIN and need to reset it so they can get into ROSI. it shouldn’t affect you at all – just make sure you don’t lose your student number/PIN information while you’re away. store that somewhere safe and save yourself a headache when you come back. (though keep in mind that ROSI will be switching to ACORN on June 8th, 2015, and you’ll only need you’re UTORID to log into that. so keep that safe, too).

your UTORID and webmail and MyRes should all stay exactly the same. if you have any problems, you can always contact the help desk at robarts – they’re pretty fab.

have a cool year off,



May 21

life is competitive


I’m going in my second year of university and I recently applied for the Ethics, Society and Law major. They choose about 60-70 people out of 300-400 applicants and the cut off average is a 73% in three FCE’s that fulfill breadths 2&3. Getting the threshold mark doesn’t guaranted admittance in the program. My average ranges in the high 80s for my three courses but I’m extremely worried that I won’t get accepted. Do you think I stand a chance against 400 or more smart UofT applicants or should I start looking into other programs? It seems like everyone in UofT has a 4.0 …. It’s so competetive.

I’d appreciate your help.


hey there,

i really wish i had the numbers for this kind of stuff. honestly, i do. i wish i could tell you, “don’t worry, people with ___ GPA will definitely get in!”

unfortunately, i just don’t know what the average mark will be of people accepted. sending candy bars to enrolment services hasn’t done much in the way of getting me onto any admissions committees. go figure.

for example, i didn’t even know that 70/400 acceptance rate that you quoted, so i can’t give you much insight. however, i have two general pieces of advice that i HOPE can be at least SOMEWHAT HELPFUL.

helpful blog post

a visual representation of aska’s level of helpfulness

1. high 80s = a 4.0 GPA, and that’s about as competitive as you can get. yes, a 17.5% acceptance rate is pretty low. however, a 4.0 admission average is very good, and i’d say you stand a good chance with those kind of marks. as always, i can’t guarantee anything, and i don’t have any actual insight on admissions, but that GPA is PRETTY GOOD.

2. you should always have a backup. unless you’re 100% positive you’ll get into a program, it’s ALWAYS a good idea to have a backup. so yeah, start looking into other programs, but don’t do it because you’re not confident in yourself or your chances – just do it because it’s good practice.

interesting alternatives to ethics, society & law include: international relations, political science, philosophy, and criminology and sociolegal studies.

finally, try not to let this dominate your whole life. i know it’ll be hard, but you won’t hear back about the POSt until at least july 2nd, and until then, it’s not worth pulling your hair out over. go outside, read a book, see a movie…enjoy your life until we’re all back to the grind in september.



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