your student life specialists

May 23

long time reader, first time asker

Hello Aska!

First – You are utterly brilliant!
I will be applying to UofT this fall, and scrolling through your blog has
saved me many a panic attack! Within this wall of flesh, there is a soul
that counts thee its creditor.

P.S. I went through the tags before writing this (true fan here) so don’t
worry – this doesn’t have ‘another college question’…..(or does it…..?).

1. Oh all seeing eye, how do you know everything that’s happening at UofT’s
massive campus? What are some of the best ways to keep on top of student
events, displays, Disney serenades, aska fan-fests, food trucks etc? (Most
importantly – food trucks!).

2. Slightly beyond UofT – which are the best natural sites to explore in
and around Toronto – hikes, trails, hidden Narnias perhaps?

3. Innis is one of the only apartment style residences on campus, and as
far as I can see this style of residence (and Innis in general) seems
perfect. But, as an Innis insider, what are some of the disadvantages of
apartment style living?

4. I have been looking through the PolSci and International Relations
department pages, and although I found a massive list of internships
offered to PolSci students, I could not find a similar list for
International Relations. Does PolSci generally have more available
internship and exchange opportunities in general?

Finally, I feel like I am compelled by tradition to put this question here,
if only as a symbol:
‘Innis or UC?”

May the odds and even be ever in your favor.



thank you so much! i am always humbled and delighted to meet a fan like yourself.

since you’ve asked me a five-part question, here’s a five-part answer:

  1. first, you could check out the student life website. they have a lot of stuff on events, displays, clubs, anything you may desire! if that isn’t enough, you can also check on facebook- lots of clubs and societies post when they’re hosting events (and whether or not there’ll be free food). you could also check out hart house (they always have a bunch of stuff going on), the utsu (university of toronto student’s union), your college’s student society, and the clubs fair during orientation week.
  2. there’s lots of nature-y stuff to do in and around toronto. so much so, that i’ll just redirect you to this. in all seriousness though, there are a lot of places to go hiking in toronto, check out this article.
  3. it all has to do with your personal preferences. however, you’ll have to think a lot about things like food (innis doesn’t have a dining hall, but you could still get a meal plan) and cleaning (you’ll have to look after a kitchen and a bathroom and a common area AS WELL AS your own room).
  4. i don’t know if there are MORE internships for polisci students as opposed to international relations students… it just looks like the IR department’s student experience page hasn’t been updated as recently as the polisci department’s. you could get in contact with the IR department and they’d probably have way more information than me, a humble not-IR student.
  5. innis or uc?





May 19

math fun with fees

Hi there,

I’m a 4th year computer science major student in UTM, and I plan to take more than 2 credits this summer, but the fee schedule only have the tuition amount for at most 2.0 credits(like here, what do I pay if I want to study for, let’s say 3 credits this summer?




first of all, i’m assuming you’re an international student, since you linked the international student fees page in your question. if you are, in fact, a domestic student, please look at this link.

the reason why it doesn’t show any fees over 2.0 credits is because anything over 2.0 credits would be considered a course overload…

…meaning that if you wanted to do, lets say 1.5 FCE’s in one semester (3 classes per term to reach a total of 3.0 FCE’s for the whole summer), you would need special permission from your registrar’s office. if you have already been approved for this, you will just need to look at the table you provided me and do a little math.

to break down your academic fees, the PDF you attached indicates on the first page that all summer courses are charged per-course. in the table you’ll see that every 0.5 FCE costs $4,682.00, meaning that if you were to take 3.0 FCE’s, you’d have to multiply this value by 6, giving you $28,092.

since you are a full time student, you would be paying full time incidental fees ($688.96) and then UHIP fees ($204.00) in addition to your academic fees.

the math: $28,092 + $688.96 + $204.00 = $28,984.96.

meaning that your fee totals (not counting any outstanding fees you might owe) will be $28,984.96. damn that’s a whole lotta dough.

make sense?

if you are ever unsure about fees, you can contact your registrar’s office and they will be able to breakdown your fees for you!

hope this helped!


peace and love,


May 18

there’s always next year!

Hi there,
Im currently enrolled in UTM and I really want to enroll in the computer
science major. However, I currently have a 1.67 gpa due to my poor study
habits and over confidence in my abilities (bad habit that carried from
high school DX). I’d like to ask, If i do exceptionally well while taking
second year compsci courses (like getting over 3.0 in most of the courses),
will they consider me for admission? If not, what the options laid out for

Thanks and have a nice day!



dude, i’ve been there. poor study habits continue to haunt me everyday. just last night i fell asleep on my bed while doing readings for class and then in the morning, i completey slept through my class. it happens. i hope things will be better for you next semester!

if you successfully completed CSC108h5 and achieved a minimum of 60% in CSC148H%, MAT102H5 and one of either MAT134Y5, 135Y5, 137Y5/157Y5), you can try getting into the CSC major after you complete your second year. make sure you pay attention to when the program request period would be and make sure you request during the appropriate time!

it states on the calendar that you will also need to meet the CGPA requirement, which changes every year. you’ll have to check if you meet that requirement yourself once it become available. sometimes, even meeting the minimum CGPA requirement won’t guarantee you a space in the program, but if you do want to check your chances of getting in, you could contact the program’s undergraduate advisor. when i was concerned about my chances of getting into my program, sitting down with my undergraduate advisor was really helpful because she helped me figure out what i needed to do in order to get into the program.

if in second year, you get grades in: [CSC207H5, 236H5, two of (CSC209H5, 258H5, 263H5), 290H5; MAT223H5/240H5; STA256H5]… that bring you up to the CGPA requirement of the year, it would at the very least make you eligible for entrance into the program.

the question of whether or not you would get into the program is one that i wouldn’t be able to predict simply because program admissions are solely based on the discretion of the department.

since you’ve already completed 4.0 FCE’s, you would have had to enrol in a program (any program) as a placeholder. if you haven’t already, selecting a random type 1 subject POSt (a specialist, 2 majors, 1 major and 2 minors) will allow you to continue enrolling in courses at UTM.

if you don’t get into the program after second year, you can try to get in after third year! you just might have some trouble enrolling in specific courses those courses offer priority enrolment to compsci majors. another option may be to switch programs. maybe compsci isn’t for you! again, speaking to your undergraduate counsellor or registrar’s office will be super helpful in terms of exploring other options!

hope this helped!

good luck and i hope you get into the program that you want to get into!


peace and love,


May 17

fear not, for the showers are hot

This is probably one of the most facepalm questions you receive in 2017:D Do pools at utsg and utm have hot showers? LOL I’m serious!



this is definitely not one of the most facepalm questions i’ve received in 2017.

yes they do.

good luck with that.


peace and love,



May 16

u of t hunger games spinoff

I heard that UofT is filled with students who tear out pages from the library books to sabotage other students, students who give wrong notes and answers, and students who sabotage labs. Everyone says that the students are out to get each other and only care about their marks. Is this true? Does it depend on the program?



dude, this sounds like a great idea for a tv show or movie. i can see it now:

it would be like the hunger games but instead of an outdoor arena it’s actually the U of T campus during a particularly frigid winter. two randomly selected undergrad students from each college/ faculty are thrown into the arena to sabotage and betray each other to get marks below 50 *gasp* (after which they are forcibly transferred to repeat their senior year in high school). major obstacles in the arena would include un-shovelled sidewalks, people who refuse to look up from their phones when walking to class, and those speeding cars in front of northrop frye. while queen’s park may seem like a nice grassy soft area to lie down for a night’s rest, terrifying creatures like squirrels and muggers lurk in the shadows. tempting banners at second cup with hipster smoothies on them may lure you to wait in line for one but beware for they may cause you digestive issues, causing you to miss a final worth 50%! the last student standing gets to live in one of those nice new condos on bay FOR LIFE where they will be waited on by people who have committed academic offences like intentional plagiarism/ cheating. oooooh!!!!!!! and the best part is that they will automatically receive full ride scholarships and entry into the masters/graduate program of their choice.

the point of these games is to remind us of that U of T is capable of destroying our whole career if we don’t work hard. omg imagine meric gertler as caesar flickerman omg it would be so good. yo ima copyright this asap and pitch it to warner bros or something. © askastudent

right, you had a question. sorry i got a little carried away with my imagination.

uhm. i haven’t personally experienced any outright sabotage at U of T, but that’s also because my programs aren’t very competitive. in other programs, i’ve heard of people maybe posting the wrong solutions to problems, but it’s hard to tell if they genuinely didn’t know how to do the question or if they were actually trying to sabotage people. people in my programs (social sciences and humanities) are usually super helpful and willing to share notes. i have a feeling that people at U of T are too busy saving their own a**es to care about fixing their notes to sabotage other people. that would be so crappy. if it did happen here, it would be super rare and it’s bound to happen at other schools too! tearing pages out of library books would result in fines for the borrower so i don’t know why anyone would do that. that would be so dumb. libraries have security cameras too! (i know this because i check every time i sneak my food up to the stacks.)

regardless, if a student did betray their fellow classmate,  i’m sure karma would eventually come back and bite them in the a**.

it definitely does depend on the program, too. if a program has limited enrolment, chances are, people will be more competitive. however, sometimes when the program is smaller, people make more of an effort to stick together and make sure everyone does well. i’m sure some specific disciplines will come to mind if i tell you that some programs are more cutthroat than others.

anyways, these rarely occurring crappy people are no reason to avoid U of T. don’t forget about the wonderful people who exist here too, like me!

peace and love and may the odds be ever in your favour



May 15

wholesome “club”ing

hii im a first year student thinking about starting a club for the next academic year. ive read the pages on ulife about starting a club (writing a constitution, applying for recognition, etc) but i would like to know more! how do clubs get custom shirts, donation boxes and posters? ie. students for wishes have shirts, donation boxes and posters with their club name on them. and how do transactions work? clubs receive funds by cheques… does this mean i would have to create a bank account??




im a first year student interested in starting a club for the next academic year. i read ulife’s page about starting a club. from what ive gathered, i (basically) need to write a constitution and apply for recognition. i would still like more information on how transactions are made. i read that utsu funds a club and that clubs are paid by cheques. so like would i have to create a bank account? how would i do that??

also, do you know how clubs get custom shirts, donation boxes and posters? students for wishes and other clubs ive seen have shirts, donation boxes and posters with their club name on them.

…also, where can clubs set up their events? I know clubs can rent some places around campus but which places?? or could a club just randomly set up a stand outside? lol

right now, im just thinking about starting a club. i’m a commuter so i would like to get as much info as i can on starting a club before i actually commit to it.

i dont have any background in business or any experience in leadership but i do feel passionate about a certain cause.

plz help


why hello there,

first of all, i can 100% guarantee that sending in the same question twice to our email and tumblr will not make us respond any faster! that’s a big aska no-no. pls do not clog up our inbox with extra emails thxxxxx. seeing extra emails = more stress = more anxiety = less productivity. capisce?

on to the main event:

once you’ve completed your constitution and applied for recognition, you can do the following:

  1. form an executive team: i would recommend that you assemble a good team of people you work well with who share your passion about the cause. this group of people will become your executive team and you’ll work together to start up your club.
  2. recruit members: you need to have at least 30 members and 51% of these members have to pay UTSU fees. plus what’s the point of having a club if you don’t have people?
  3. find your club headquarters: location, location, location. do you require an office space for your club or would you be perfectly content working from home? where will your club members hold meetings or events? if you do need office space, you should check out this link to learn more about how to apply for a club space at 21 Sussex Court. for meeting spaces or room rentals, the campus room finder is great, but you’ll need to be registered as a primary or secondary contact on ulife.
  4. money, money, money: if you want to get funding or sponsorship, you can reach out to businesses and ask them to sponsor you. sometimes they’ll offer your club members discounts or straight up give you money. be very professional when approaching businesses and always have a portfolio prepared. if you require funding from the UTSU, you’ll need to first be recognized by Ulife. here is basically every question you could possibly ask about UTSU recognized clubs answered. watch out for deadlines because they exist!

if you do receive recognition from Ulife and UTSU before september, you’ll be able to set up during the st. george street fest and UTSU clubs fair at hart house circle in september! that’s where you’ll get a bunch of people coming up to your booth and signing up to join your club.

printing t-shirts and other swag can be done through the UTSU, you just have to reach out to them. there are other options available for t-shirt printing of course, you can always do more research and compare their prices with other retailers. not sure what you mean by donation boxes, but it can’t be too hard to make one yourself! nice long banners can be ordered from the UTSU and if you need to print paper posters, UTSU’s got you too!

in terms of opening a bank account, check out question 30 at this link! there are many different kinds of accounts and it would be in your best interest to sit down with a financial advisor at the bank of your choice to discuss what kind of account you would need. i would ask before the appointment if you require any extra documentation in addition to the Office of Student Life recognition letter. it might save you a trip!

important people to contact when you need help:

clubs and leadership development: i’ve heard that they are wonderful people who are happy to help you with any inquiries regarding club development!

the UTSU also has a contact who can help you with all aspects of your club. if you need advice, you can contact to book an appointment and sit down with someone.

anyways. i think i’ve covered it all.

if you have any more questions, reach out to the people i’ve mentioned above. ^

happy clubbing.

*bonus points if you know what movie this is from! ^*

peace and love,


May 15

ditching the co-req

Hey aska! I’m in a bit of a predicament. I’m thinking of late withdrawing from a course that is a corequisite for another course. If I late withdraw from the one course in early April, how likely do you think it is that I’ll be able to stay in the other course? After all, by then the year will almost be over. How should I go about requesting permission for something like this? Thanks!
this is a great question! i consulted an academic advisor on this and this is what she said:
the department conducts checks to make sure students are taking the appropriate co-requisites, however, LWD’s are done after the drop date which means that you’d be withdrawing from the course pretty late in the semester. the department most likely will completed their checks way before the end of the semester so i’m assuming they wouldn’t remove you from the other course. (unless they did, in that case, i’m sorry) it’s unlikely that departments would remove students from courses so late in the semester.
if you do need to take these co-req classes for your program, you’ll probably have to retake the course you LWD’d, assuming you passed the other class.
there are a lot of complex factors regarding the consequences of LWDing co-requisites, and i encourage you to have a conversation about it with your registrar. in order to apply for LWD, you must make an appointment with your registrar’s office because they are the ones who will process it for you. they can help you discuss strategies to avoid future LWD’s and give you the specifics on co-requisites. i don’t want to go into too much detail on corequisites because without knowing which courses you’re taking, the information would be pretty useless. it gets more complicated the more co-requisites there are and sometimes it depends on the department. your academic advisor will be able to help you with course-specific questions!
hope this helped a little! when in doubt, always go to your registrar’s office!
peace and love,

May 15

what time is it? summer (school) time

Hi I’m a first year student at UTSG and I’m thinking of going to summer school next year cuz I only have 4 credits now. I would do a credit this summer but I desperately need to relax 😛 . I’m thinking of taking 1.0 full course credit and I was wondering how long is it? I know it’s 4 months but is class everyday? How many hours? Would I still have a summer to enjoy?



*apologies for the lame high school musical reference in the title*

summer school is a great option! i personally like taking courses in the summer more than during the year because i feel that i have more energy and motivation.

if you are wanting to make up 1.0 FCE’s during summer 2018, you have four options since there are two summer semesters.

1) take a Y course (1.0 FCE’s) which will last from may to august

2) take two F courses (0.5 FCE’s each) from may to june

3) take two S courses (0.5 FCE’s each) from july to august

4) take one F course (0.5 FCE) from may to june and then take one S course (0.5 FCE) from july to august

obviously if you want to get your classes over with earlier and enjoy the rest of your summer, option 2 would be ideal (which is what i happen to be doing right now), but be prepared to work hard and manage your time wisely.

summer school is accelerated, so for an For S course, you’ll have 6 weeks of class as opposed your typical 12 weeks. let me tell you right now, summer school is not easy. you’ll feel like you just started getting into the material and then BAM! you’ll be writing your final. you’ll also have twice the amount of lectures per week which means twice the amount of readings.

it’s tough, man.

i actually just answered a question recently about summer school that might answer some of your questions regarding class times, which you can check out here! in terms of F and S courses, for one class, you can expect an average of about 4 hours of class per week, split between two days. (e.g. tuesdays and thursdays 12-2pm) i feel as though this is a pretty standard representation of what summer courses are like, but don’t quote me on that. you can take a look for yourself this summer’s timetable to get an idea of what class hours are like.

you would only have class everyday if you decide to take classes that fill up your whole week!

you can definitely still enjoy your summer- you’d only be in class for a couple of hours a day! you can go out and have fun for the rest of the day! (don’t forget to study, of course) relax yo. it’s gon’ be chill.

peace and love,


May 15

not so easy as 1- 2- 2L- 3

When is it time to choose programs? And what are the different types of programs (Type 1,2,3)? Thank you!



ah yes, it’s that time of year again. i really hope that in the time it has taken me to respond to your inquiry, you’ve tried googling this yourself…

…but if you haven’t, that’s fine, i’ll answer your question anyways! all of the below information applies to the faculty of arts and science at UTSG.

this information is illustrated really nicely in this link right here but i’ll reiterate it for you and all my wonderful readers because that is what i do.


when is the subject POSt enrolment period? depends on your program type. (fyi: i am using program and POSt interchangeably.)

how do you check what type of program you want? you use this handy little (or not so little) list.

type 1 programs: the period to enrol for type 1 programs is april 1st to september 20th (a.k.a. now) there are no enrolment restrictions on type 1 programs. if you have completed 4.0 FCE’s you will be able to enrol into any type 1 program. all you have to do is go to ROSI or ACORN and enrol yourself. (just plunk the code on the left side of the column into the subject POSt module, et voila!)

type 1S programs: these are basically the same as type 1 programs except the enrolment period is different and students in these programs pay higher fees. there are no restrictions or applications for 1S programs and the enrolment period of july 3rd to september 20th (a.k.a. later).

type 2, 2L (the L just means limited), 3 programs**: this is where things get a little funky. read carefully.

there are two request periods for these types of programs because the first period is if you completed the program requirements by the end of the 2016-2017 fall winter session, while the second period is if you are hoping to have completed the program requirements by the end of the 2017 summer session.

the first period to apply is april 1st to may 17th. you will need to apply during this period, check your result on june 30th, and then if you have been invited to enrol, enrol by august 2nd.

the second period to apply is july 3rd to august 27th. you will need to apply during this period, check your result on september 15th, and if you have been invited to enrol, you’ll need to enrol by september 20th. be sure to check your ROSI during this period (put it in your calendar!) because you don’t have much time to enrol!

**type 3 programs: these differ slightly from type 2 programs because program enrolment is limited and you will require an application. some applications do not accept applications from the second request period. if that is the case, it will say 3-no.

again, the steps to applying and enrolling are all outlined nicely in the link i attached above!

***something important to keep in mind is that if you’ve completed 4.0 FCE’s, you won’t be able to add any courses until you apply to a program. if you are applying to a type 2 or 3 program where it is possible that you may not be accepted, it is very important to secure a backup POSt so you can continue to enrol in courses. my advice to you would be to enrol in a random type 1 specialist program simultaneously along with your type 2/2L/3 program applications just in case you don’t get into to the type 2/2L/3 programs. don’t worry, you won’t need to have taken any courses in that department, pretty much any type 1 POST will do. that being said, you could also enrol yourself in 2 type 1 majors/ one type 1 major and two type 1 minors as place holders, but that just overcomplicates everything once you need to drop them. it’s better to just use a type 1 specialist as your placeholder because if you do end up getting into a type 2/2L/3 program, you’ll only need to drop one POSt (your random type 1 specialist) as opposed to two type 1 majors/a type 1 major and 2 type 1 minors.***

does that make sense? are you one of these flamingoes?

that’s okay! i realize this post may be a little convoluted and wordy but if you need more clarification, please comment below!

good luck and i hope you get into all your desired programs!

peace and love,


May 12

(another) battle of the campuses

Hi, is it true that University of Toronto – St. George is a more academically difficult university than University of Toronto – Mississauga? Thanks!



this is a question we get a lot and it stumps me every time. i’m really not allowed to say one campus is easier than the other because i’d get some angry emails from admin, but i also genuinely do not know the answer. it’s also not fair to the people at UTM who work their butts off if i say: “lol yeah they have it easier.” all i can say is, having been at UTSG for four years, UTSG is indeed difficult.

to the people who say that UTM is easier than UTSG: is it fair to say that one campus is easier than the other if you haven’t conducted an in-depth study in which a selected group of students take the same courses at both campuses? this question has left me scratching my head a little because there are so many factors that can contribute to the difficulty of a course. am i overthinking this question like i overthink everything in my life???? probably, but U of T taught me how to think critically, so i blame them.

the only logical reason why people would say that UTM is more difficult than UTSG is because our admission standards are a tad higher than UTM, but from what i’ve heard, students from both campuses struggle with school. there really isn’t one campus that’s “so much easier” than the other. even if someone told you that they failed a course at UTSG and then got an A at UTM, can you really conclude that UTM is easier, or did they just need a change of environment?

so, what i’m trying to say is that there really isn’t a bonafide way of measuring “academic difficulty” between the campuses other than by word of mouth. you can choose to listen to the people who tell you one is easier than the other but i encourage you to investigate further and consider what they are basing their argument off of. i mean, once you’re there, you kind of have to roll with the punches on whatever campus you’re at, right?

i hope that my ever-so-graceful dance around this question accompanied by a number of gifs has been satisfactory for your needs.

peace and love,


May 09

compsci conundrum

I am planning on attending UTSC (but I think this question should be
applicable to the other campuses) this September, and I am looking for
advice on whether I should aim for a major + 2 minor or (software
engineering) specialist program in Computer Science.

I am leaning towards the major + 2 minor option for the following reasons:

The specialist program requires some additional courses that I think would
make it more difficult than the major. For example, it requires both Linear
Algebra II and Intro to Probability, whereas the major program let’s you
choose one of them. Another math course that is required is Calculus of
Several Variables I, which just sounds terrifying. And I know that math is
important in CS, but, I am only okay in math (ended with 83 in functions
because trig killed me [I probably wouldn’t have done that well on it in
the first place, but I planned poorly for other subjects, and so did not
have time to study for the unit test]; calc seems much more interesting,
though), and so I would like to skip some of these math courses.
Additionally, I am not sure how useful or hard some of the additional CS
courses like Intro to Numerical Algorithms for Computational Mathematics or
Computability and Computational Complexity will be—they all seem very
abstract and not-practical.

Another reason I want the major + 2 minor is that I would get two minors. I
am taking Writer’s Craft this year and have realized that I quite enjoy
creative writing. It just so happens that UTSC offers a minor program under
English called Creative Writing. I think taking this minor alongside the CS
major would be a great way to lessen the workload and pursue something I
enjoy, while also pursing something else I enjoy that can actually earn me
money. Having only math and theory-based CS courses besides a small number
of electives is not too appealing to me. I realize that those courses are
better than practical programming courses in the long-run, but having them
make up the vast majority of my degree seems a bit painful. I don’t have a
solid pick for a second minor yet, but I don’t think it would be hard for
me to choose one (linguistics and food science are top contenders).

Here, then, are reasons I might want to go the specialist route:

I’m special.

I think some of the courses the specialist has you take would be pretty
beneficial. For example, since my goal is to get a job as a programmer, the
courses that seem to teach you how to do stuff in a real-world environment
like Intro to Software Engineering and Engineering Large Software Systems
could really be useful, and I might be missing out if I opt for the major.
There are also a few other courses like Programming on the Web and Intro to
Databases which could add to my skill set and make me more marketable for
co-op and post-post-secondary jobs. I am of course just predicting how
valuable these courses might be form their names and descriptions alone;
that’s why I’m asking you! The major program only allows you to take 1
credit of additional C/D-level (300/400-level) CS courses, which means
missing out on some potentially useful courses. I am guessing that it is
not possible to take more as electives, but is it?

My minors will probably also not help at all with my future career; I would
only be taking them to lessen the amount of math/CS courses and increase
the amount of enjoyable courses. Is that a bad thing to do?

So, to conclude, do you think the benefits for taking the specialist
program (additional useful courses) outweighs the cons (more un-fun
courses; less fun courses)? Both choices aid the mind, but in different
ways (i.e. one probably reduces chances of suicide).

Thank you and sorry for the long message; I wanted to make my points clear



i began penning a response to this question that went a little something like: “just go with your gut! it seems like you’re leaning towards the major and two minors option! why not pursue that?”, but upon further reflection, i’ve decided that we need to rewind a little, if that’s okay with you.

(just so you know, i’m not a computer science student, nor have i taken any computer science classes and i’m just as confused as you are about these programs. i’m speaking only as a seasoned upper year student)

before i start ripping into you, (it’s going to happen, i’m sorry) kudos to you for thinking this hard about what program you want to get into. it’s clear you’ve put a lot of thought into this, which is great. this response isn’t supposed to make you feel bad- i just want to bring you back to earth a little.

so, first- you’ve made some serious assumptions on what these courses are going to be like. i can tell you from experience that i’ve made assumptions based on course names and have been incredibly wrong. classes also vary pretty dramatically depending on the instructor.

*askastorytime* i took a class called urban geography, planning, and political processes. i thought was going to be super difficult and intense, but it ended up being super chill. for our final project, we created a zine and performed a rap for the class. for our group presentation, i contributed a sick drum beat and didn’t even utter a single word. moral of the story: do not judge courses by their names. linear algebra is probs super easy. (i’m kidding. math is never easy. math is very hard. we mustn’t joke about math.)

your assumptions that some classes are “abstract”, “non-practical” or “terrifying” are all based on the course name. the truth is, every program at u of t will require a great deal of hard work. sure, easy courses exist, but transitioning from high school to first year is a huge challenge and you need to take that into account. picking the major and two minors option over a specialist program doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be choosing the ‘easier route’. like i’ve said in previous posts, it really depends on how deep you want to get into a subject. a major and two minors allows you to explore a larger variety of subjects whereas a specialist will let you dig deep into one subject. which option are you more interested in?

while the university does have a breadth requirement which encourages us to take courses outside of our faculty, personally, if i were to choose two minors that were completely unrelated to my major, i feel like i would have lots of difficulty focusing on each one and feel like a scatterbrain. for others who are better at multitasking and switching between subjects easily, a major and two minors is perfect! it really depends on what kind of person you are. can you turn your computer science mind off and jump right into phonetics and phonology if you need to? you’ll have to test that out in your first year! p.s. don’t forget to take a moment to check out the requirements for your potential minors and their different application requirements.

that being said, from what i’ve heard, computer science is extremely math heavy. there is no easy way out. you have been warned.

for now, i think you should try picking courses that are prerequisites for the general computer science programs (if you are sure about pursuing computer science), and see how you feel about them. fear not, the utsc calendar literally says that it’s not meant to be difficult to switch between different streams within computer science.

you have plenty of time to discuss your options with an academic advisor as well! you can also talk to the program supervisor for computer science if you have more specific questions about the available compsci programs.

i’d also encourage you to reach out to current or past computer science alumni to get some different perspectives on how they chose their programs. hearing other people’s thought processes might help you figure out what you’re looking for!

hey, if doing programming for your whole undergrad sounds terrible for you, maybe computer science isn’t the right program for you. your first year is meant for you to explore and discover what courses you like. you don’t even necessarily need to get into your program by second year if you still don’t know what to do after your first year.

so in conclusion, specialist courses won’t necessarily be more useful in the long run, and if the idea of specializing in software engineering doesn’t sound colourful enough for you, maybe the major and two minor option will be better for you! again, you really need to take some university level classes to see what it’s really like here. don’t judge a book by its cover, yo.

good luck with your decision, i hope you choose a program you like!

peace and love,


May 04

solidarity sister

Hi Aska,

I’ve come to you in the past to ask an important question that you answered spectacularly, and I’m returning to ask yet another question in hopes your answer for this will exceed how great the previous one was. Whereas my last question sent nearly a year ago was excitement and anxiety meshed into one about trying to figure out my second year courses, this one is about giving up those second year courses. Or just giving up period. Idk, basically, I’m in a deep and dark hole that I can’t seem to climb out of.

I’m a second year student at UTSG, I am in “good academic standing”–not necessarily meaning I’m doing “good,” but the school hasn’t sent me a threatening email about putting me on academic probation, so in that case I’m golden. I have dropped 2.0 FCEs, and am currently about to fail another full year course which I sadly no longer can drop on ACORN according to the 2017 Calendar. (idk i read about talking to my registrar’s office about dropping it, idek pls confirm).

I’m just in such a rut. I had my life planned out since my first day of senior year in high school, and now I’m barely getting by because I am so unhappy that I’ve been seriously considering professional help to get me through (although I probably won’t because of embarrassment issues). I have no motivation–the path I had planned for myself was a plan I loved, but now I’m so unsure. (I’m an English and History Major btw; was planning on getting my Masters of Teaching from OISE after completing my undergrad and then becoming a teacher. But my marks are too low, let’s face it, so I was planning on getting my Consecutive BEd from YorkU after.)

What I’m saying is, I need advice. I need a break from life. Because I swear, just a few more weeks or days or hours on campus and I will crack.

If I end off this year, I’ll only have 2.0 FCE’s fulfilled for my second year. Almost like it didn’t even happen and I just wasted 7K+ on my tuition. Sigh. Can I take a year off? What will happen when I ask to come back after? Can I even ask to come back after? What should I do, Aska? I’m hopeless.


A distressed and mentally drained soul that feels like giving up on everything in the world.

(aka probably a lot of students that go to UofT)



hello friend,

thank you so much for reaching out. i wish i could’ve gotten back to you sooner! it has also taken me several hours to craft a response to this so i apologize!

since the topic of mental health is super super important to discuss, i’m going to try my best not to sound cliche and just be honest about my own experiences and try to give you advice based on what worked for me. (cliche’s are cliche’s for a reason though, so apologies if many are used)

to preface all of this: i’ve been through exactly what you’re going through, and dude, i feel you. the past four years have not been smooth and i continue to deal with depression and anxiety everyday. it was really awesome of you to reach out about this topic this because it encourages people to talk about it. keeping things bottled up is never a healthy option. i am a firm believer in letting it out. anyways, please know that you’re talking to a kindred spirit and that even though i might not know you personally, i’ve been there.

transitioning from university is a huge jump and you’re definitely going to be under a lot of pressure. deadlines, commitments, terrible profs, and newfound independence are pretty much a recipe for disaster if coupled with sleep deprivation and lack of general nutrition.

let’s try to tackle this step by step.

  1. your academic standing and dropping courses: regarding your academic standing, as long as you are still “in good standing”, you are, in your own words, golden. failing a Y course isn’t the end of the world. just make it up in a different semester! in the future, (again, i wish i had gotten back to you sooner) i would recommend that you consider this wonderful thing called LWD (otherwise known as a late withdrawal). i’ve taken advantage of this many a time when i’ve hit rock bottom, and it’s super helpful for times when you know you’re going to fail but you’ve missed the drop deadline. read more about LWD here.
  2. getting help: admitting that you need help is pretty hard to do but it’s the first step to feeling better. i can tell you from personal experience that reaching out to a professional is definitely hard but once you do, you’ll feel so much better and you’ll feel super accomplished. you don’t need to be embarrassed about your mental health. there are more people out there than you think that are going through the same thing. how i got help: i reached out first to my friends who urged me to see a doctor on campus. i made an appointment (really the hardest part) to discuss my mental health with a physician at health and wellness and she referred me to a psychologist. with my doctor and psychologist, we developed a treatment plan to help me gradually feel better. at around the same time, i was missing deadlines, skipping classes, and staying in bed all day. it was really hard for me to come to terms with getting zeroes on assignments so i went to my registrar’s office to ask for help. i will never stop singing praises for my registrar’s office because they’ve helped me in so many ways. my registrar wrote letters to professors for me when i needed to ask for extensions but was too embarrassed to ask. they are also knowledgeable about the various campus resources that are available for students, whether it’s accessibility services or health and wellness. making my profs aware of my condition also yielded some very comforting responses. i had profs who said to me: “please let me know if you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to come talk to me if you ever need someone to talk to”. i even had profs who went above and beyond their role as a professor to make sure i was still caught up with my work by emailing me what i had missed. profs are humans too and chances are, they’ve probably gone through some dark times themselves, but you’ll never know until you reach out to them. if you only get one thing out of this post, i hope i’ve encouraged you to get help. you are not alone in this battle and there are tons of people and resources out there that can help you lessen the weight on your shoulders. trying to crawl out of the dark whole is hard but it’s easier when you have the support of other people.
  3. a change of plans: your life is constantly shifting. every factor in your life is fluid and sometimes it’s really difficult to have a set plan for the future. just look back on your life 2 years ago: how much has changed? did you think you’d be where you are today? you learn new things, try new things, and meet new people everyday, all of which could drastically change your whole life course. while sure, it’s good to set goals for yourself to work towards, don’t sweat it too hard if your goals may need to change. there really isn’t one way to do anything. going on a completely different path doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t end up at the same destination. you could switch your majors, take a gap year, decide you don’t want to go back to school, get certified for teaching languages abroad and end up teaching english in japan! same end goal, different path. it’s not the end of the world if things don’t work out right now because the possibilities are endless. *askastudentstorytime* things have an odd way of working out. i actually wanted to go into the same teaching program at OISE but found out that my grades were too low. i went to the registrar’s office one day to talk about how my grades sucked and i ended up getting a job there a couple of months later. since i started working here, planning for my career has completely changed. i may not ever become a teacher, but i’ve found something else that i also like doing, and you will too!
  4. gap year: if you feel like you’d feel better taking a year off, by all means, do it! your health is your number one priority because a degree is pretty much worthless to you if you end up destroying your soul to procure it. if you do want to take a gap year, don’t enrol in any courses in the semesters that you want off, and the school will get the hint and financially cancel you. if you are an international student, contact the CIE to double check the consequences of going on a gap year with a study permit. don’t worry, nothing bad will happen while you’re gone and you are always welcome to come back and finish your degree at any time. all you’d have to do is to re-register and pay the $25 re-registration fee at your college. see? not so scary!

you wanted some advice for what to do so here is the tldr version of it all.

dropping/ failing courses won’t sabotage your whole university career. it happens all the time. next time if you know you’re going to fail but you’ve missed the drop deadline, consider using one of your LWD’s.

talk to someone/ anyone about your struggles. someone out there will be able to help you or at least relate to your struggles! take advantage of the registrar’s office and the resources available to you on campus.

goals may change and that’s okay.

take a gap year if you think your health would benefit from it. a break from school and some time to recuperate might be exactly what you need right now!

i’m really sorry that you’re going through this and i hope that the summer is a lot less stressful and more enjoyable. bask in the warm sunlight and drink it all in before things get dark and gloomy again. feel free to write again! while i can’t guarantee that i will get back to you in timely fashion, i guarantee that aska will always respond eventually to any emails we receive. thanks for taking the first step to email us. be proud of your efforts.

i know it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel at this point in your life but i can assure you that it’s there! it’s always easier to walk through a dark tunnel with the help of people who’ve seen the light. idk, i’m trying to come up with a good metaphor but i’m not sure if it’s working.

…k what i’m trying to say is that you’re not just walking towards nothingness.

you’re gonna be okay. hang in there.

peace and lots and lots of love,


Apr 26

i just want to know what i’m up against

Hi, I’m a first year student at UTSG and I’m worried that I might fail a course (even though I put it down as credit/no credit) I obviously want the credit cuz it’s a full year course but i worry I might fail. I don’t want to spend this summer in school obviously,  but I’m thinking of making up for it next summer. I was wondering how does summer school work if I take one full year course? Do we meet every day? Are lecturers typically 2hrs? Are there tutorials? How many days a week would we meet?

Also I’m thinking about majoring in sociology, It says u need a combined mark of 65% for SOC102 and 103. I severely underestimated first semester and got a 64 in 102 and I’ll probably finish in 103 with around 75. Do u think I’ll be admitted into the program with a 70% overall? How competitive is sociology? I can’t find this info anywhere!



first of all, i hope you didn’t fail the course! we’ve all been there at some point in our undergrads, so don’t sweat it too much. you’re only in first year and you have plenty of time to catch up if you do end up failing. fingers crossed!

i actually prefer summer school to fall/winter school (?) because i feel that i have more energy to get up and go to class when it’s nice outside as opposed to when its dark and gloomy. it’s not the worst thing! a summer of relaxation can get boring! might as well do something productive!

*my most sincerest apologies if this information is completely irrelevant at this point in time- i’m really bad at getting to time-sensitive questions on time*

every summer Y course is different. i’ll show you different examples of what to expect. since you’re pursuing an arts degree, let’s go with something like anthropology. as you can see below, you’ll have 2 two hour long lectures and one hour long tutorial per week,

but for another Y course in arts, let’s say cinema studies, you’ll have 2 four hour long lectures and no tutorial. (the lectures are usually very long because they sometimes include screenings)

if we look at yet another example coming from east asian studies, you’ll have 1 two hour long lecture and 1 hour long tutorial per week.

so you can see that it really depends on what course you decide to take. some classes come with tutorials and others come with screenings. there’s no set amount of class time that all Y classes have per week.

a question about sociology, yay! you’re talking to someone who just completed their sociology major! (humble brag, but hey, it was a lot of work and i’m glad to be done)

there really isn’t a way to find out how competitive a program is, (trust me, i even asked the registrar) but at least you know you’re above the minimum average needed and that you’ll be considered. it does say on the calendar that getting a combined average of 65% will not guarantee entrance into the program, but really, it varies every year depending on how the averages are skewed each year. maybe you’ll have a lot of overachievers this year which will bring the entrance standard up, who knows?

anyways, i hope this helped a bit. i’m sorry that i wasn’t able to provide you with any concrete answers.

i hope you have a wonderful summer and that all your exams went well!

peace, love and hope,


Apr 21

pros and cons of an extra semester


So I’m in my third year and I am currently behind 1.5 FCE due to dropping out of courses I was doing really poorly in the last couple years. I know that to graduate with distinction you need a cGPA of 3.20. I’m wondering if it is still possible to graduate with distinction [assuming I have a 3.20 GPA still] if I take the summer after my fourth year to complete the remaining credits? Would I still graduate with honours? What is your opinion on the pros and cons of taking that extra summer to finish and graduating in the fall of 2018?

Thank you so much!!



you can graduate with distinction as long as you get a GPA between 3.20 and 3.49. it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to complete your degree!


the pros of taking an extra summer:

-you’ll have more time to pursue a higher GPA if your goal is to graduate with distinction

-you can spread out your course load and have a more chill semester during the year

-courses are more sped up during the summer and will take less time

-if you got a bad haircut at the beginning of the year, it’ll have grown out by convocation

-studying outdoors with squirrels running around is a possibility!


cons of taking an extra summer:

-having to study during patio season

-if things go wrong again (god forbid), you’ll be paying more tuition for the same result

-courses are sped up so you’ll need to work really hard to keep up with the course materials

-convocating in november means it’ll be really cold when you’re trying to take photos outside of conhall/ UC with your family


regarding your question about graduating with honours: if you are pursuing a bachelor’s degree in science or arts at U of T, your degree will be called an Honours Bachelor of Arts or an Honours Bachelor of Science degree.

if you are still not sure about what to do, it’s always a good idea to go see your registrar’s office to look at how you are progressing in your degree. if you are financially capable of paying for an extra semester, it’s definitely a good option to consider!

hope this answers your question!

peace and summer lovin,


Apr 13

gimme the dough

Dear aska,

I am a future U of T student. I am writing you because I am quite confused with student loans. Indeed, I am a Canadian citizen from Ontario (so eligible for OSAP) but haven’t lived in Canada for a long time. As result, I am not eligible for the NSLSC. Needing still to borrow some money, would you happen to recommend me any private student loan or any national loaning system that would apply to me?
Since I am writing you and understood you’re a bit bored of money-related questions: I wanted to know if a boxing club existed on campus, and if yes whether or not as an Innis student I would be able to joint it.

Thanks in advance, keep up the good work,

an ecstatic, penniless and boxing passionate future U of T Student.



so regarding your question, i spoke to a financial counsellor and she said that you should definitely double check with enrolment services to confirm your eligibility for the national loan. technically, if you are a canadian citizen, you’re eligible, but perhaps there is more to your situation that makes you ineligible. regardless, it doesn’t hurt to double check.

that being said, there are definitely options outside of student loans which can help with funding your education! a good place to start doing research is the financial aid page on the utoronto website.

throughout the duration of your undergrad, you’ll come across scholarships from your college and the university that you can to apply for. these scholarships will vary in terms of what they look for, (e.g. academic merit, leadership, area of study, etc.) and there is a helpful tool right here that you can use to look at all the awards that are available to you.

if you are eligible for OSAP, you will be automatically considered for UTAPS (University of Toronto Advance Planning for Students), which is a fund which covers the extra costs of university that OSAP do not cover.

another option is to get a line of credit, which allows you to borrow money from a financial institution with interest payments each month. if you need to talk to someone to discuss your financial situation or financial aid options, you can find the contact info for the financial counsellor at your college right here!

paying tuition is, no doubt, a huge burden, but hopefully these options will help you out a bit.

also, after publishing your question, i realized i forgot to answer your question about boxing at U of T. it doesn’t look like U of T has boxing as part of their sport and recreation programs, but i do know that there is a boxing club at U of T that you can check out. their facebook group will have more information! it doesn’t seem to be college-specific, so i’m sure you’ll be able to join!

peace, love and dolladollabillz,


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