I have a couple of questions I’m hoping you can answer for me:
1. I’m planning on taking a couple bird courses related to my program throughout my undergrad years. What do you think about RLG232H1 (religion and film), PHL235H1 (philosophy of religion), and HPS100H1 (history and philosophy of science)? Have you heard other students claiming that these courses are easy?
2. I know this may be a far stretch, but would you happen to? have any course suggestions for Ethics, Law and Society majors? I’m going into my second year and I’m scared that I’ll do very poorly due to the intensive program courses, so I’m wondering if there are any courses that can help me ease my way in this major while allocating the courses towards my major program?
3. I’ll be applying to U of T and Colombia law school and I want to know if I’d be giving a bad impression by having my courses scattered all over with disregard for my particular year of study and its misalignment with lower course levels? I’ve planned my courses for the current and upcoming years, and though I have 3rd year courses in my 2nd year, in my 3rd year I’ll have 2nd and 3rd year courses, and in my 4th year I’ll have one 1st year course among some 4th year courses, but I’ll mainly have 3rd year courses. Do you happen to know if it’s bad to be so inconsistent with my course levels? Will law schools assume that I’m disorganized and not evolving as a student?
4. Over the past few months, I’ve been think about starting my own research plan and developing my own publication. How do undergraduate students go about doing this in a successful manner? Who or which professor would I have to approach and how could I ask for the help if I don’t even have a Masters or Doctorate?
I’d really appreciate your help! I know this was a long message so thank you for taking your time in answering my questions.
thanks for ordering your questions! i’m going to stick to it in my answer, ’cause there’s nothing i like more than a GOOD LIST.
1. i haven’t taken/heard much about any of those courses, unfortunately. all i can do is suggest you look up the course evals (they’re posted on blackboard under ‘Course Evals’ in the bar on top). also, check out what other people think of the profs teaching the course (using a website that aska can neither endorse nor mention since it’s not affiliated with uoft, but which you have almost definitely used before).
a previous aska has recommended browsing PHL235 as a guest on blackboard (which you can do by clicking ‘Browse Course Catalogue’ on the home page of blackboard). that is generally a great piece of advice, but neither PHL235 and RLG232 seem not to be available there anymore. boo-hoo.
i was able to find an old syllabus for PHL235 – it’s from the mississauga campus, but you’ll at least be able to get a general idea of what the course might look like.
2. since i don’t actually know you, it’s hard for me to guess what courses you might find easy. again: just try and get some info about the profs for courses that pique your interest, see if you can find previous syllabi and check out the course evals.
also, if there are any courses that logically follow a 100-level course you took and really liked, prioritize those.
and keep an eye on the drop deadline so you can ditch courses you don’t end up liking like a hot potato.
3. this is a VERY TRICKY question for me to answer, mainly because i don’t KNOW the answer. all i can do is extrapolate from the information that’s already public to us.
uoft law does explicitly state that “we examine the pattern of the intensity of the course work taken across an applicant’s undergraduate career (light versus heavy, full-time versus part-time, co-op versus regular, introductory versus upper-year courses, courses on exchange, courses during the summer term). We also examine the patterns of results the applicant achieved in that coursework (increasing trends, sustained periods of strong performance, short-term deviations, cumulative results, etc). Moreover, we take into account the nature of the program and the undergraduate institution (or institutions) at which an applicant has studied.”
colombia law makes a similar statement: “Applications are holistically reviewed by the Committee, a process that thoroughly considers each candidate’s intellectual and academic qualifications, performance on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), and an examination of the personal qualities considered requisite to scholastic success, professional distinction, and public service.”
so yeah, the kinds of courses you take will have some impact. however, if you take on a course load that you can’t handle and your GPA isn’t competitive, then you may as well not apply in the first place.
plus, that bit about “increasing trends” is important – if your GPA is going in the upwards direction, that is very promising. if you have to take a few 300-levels (or even 200- or 100-level) courses in your fourth year, and a couple of 200-levels in your third year, to make that happen, it’s not the end of the world. in fact, at uoft, it’s probably the norm.
so: try to challenge yourself, but don’t shoot yourself in the foot. give yourself the opportunity to succeed. let them determine how difficult your program or institution is – your primary focus, in my opinion, should be making your GPA as competitive as possible.
4. what kind of publication, chum? depending on the project you have in mind, the process could be different. however, generally:
if there is a professor you have a good rapport with, you could definitely approach them about it. there are also a few avenues for carrying out research within the faculty as an undergraduate: 389/399 courses are offered by most departments, as are independent study courses.
there’s also the undergraduate research fund and the trinity comprehensive paper. you might also consider getting involved with Mindful, the ethics, society & law undergraduate journal, and using that as a springboard into other projects.