• subject POST

    hello again

    Hello! i have a question about applying for programs. so, i’m a first year and i’m thinking about applying for an english major, a cinema studies major, and a creative expression in society minor. the only problem is that i haven’t done the first year cinema studies major, which seems to be the prerequisite for me to actually apply for this program. i know i can just apply for cinema studies in my second year after doing CIN105 in 2nd year (instead of 1st year), but what should i be doing before my second year?

    should i just apply for english and creative expression in society after my first year, and just have those 2 programs? or should i applying for another program instead of cinema studies as a backup?

    on another note, how many programs should i be applying for in terms of backup programs? can i apply for as many as i want and then choose which to keep and which to drop?

    also, what is the 12 credits rule? i’ve heard of it but i’m not sure what it is.

    sorry about the super long question! thanks 🙂

    ——————————————

    hey there,

    if i’m understanding this right, i took a long time to answer your original question so you sent this one in! that’s cool, i’ll just use this post to fill in some more blanks and address your new questions.

    it makes sense that you’d be wondering what you should do before your second year. i’d recommend that you apply for your english major and creative expression and society minor, and then add a placeholder major or minor as well. an open enrolment program would be ideal if you’re just picking a random program — but if you can pick something you’re genuinely interested in as a backup, do that instead.

    what i will note is that you can’t just request the english major and creative expression minor, because without the minimum program enrolment of a double major, a major + two minors, or a specialist, you won’t be able to register in second-year courses. something in the system will block you, i believe!

    i’m actually not sure if there’s a limit on how many programs you should apply for, but i believe you can apply for several and then choose which one to keep. you can probably verify this with a quick email to your registrar.

    what is the 12 distinct credits rule? funny that you ask, because everyone has this question. i’ve done a previous explainer here, and if anything’s unclear still, feel free to drop another something in the ask box and i’ll get back to you quicker than last time!

    hope the rest of your semester goes well, and good luck <3

    be Boundless,

    aska

  • degree requirements,  subject POST

    Responsible Student™

    hi! yet another first year here in your ask box, lol! i have two sort of related questions for you.

    i was looking at degree explorer today to be a Responsible Student. i know for sure that i want to major in english, but i’m not sure what i want to do for my other one. if you have any tips on finding good a program that you know you’ll enjoy, i’d appreciate it ? i know that’s a bit of a silly question because there’s no real answer to it, but i’m honestly terrified i’ll choose a program that i’ll end up hating.

    and second (the more important question i wanted to ask) – i was looking at the program requirements for the english major program and some of the courses i have to take are ENG202, ENG203, ENG250, and ENG252. butttt if i do all of these it means that 2.0 FCEs are already taken up in my second year, and i added in some courses that i might potentially want to take (ENG273Y, JEI206H, ENG289H) – some part of the english major requirements, some not – so that means i really only have 0.5 FCEs left for whatever other major i decide on. obviously, i know i could give up on some of those courses i want to take out of interest, but i feel like if i do that i might get unmotivated for school and all, and i really do want to take them. sooo after all of that background context – is it weird/not recommended if i take about two courses or so from ENG202, ENG203, ENG250, and ENG252 in my third year even though they’re 200 level courses to free up some space in 2nd year? will that somehow set me back or be a bother to me in my third year? i’m just worried since i don’t know what else i’d want to major in, not to mention that i want to do either a 0.5 BR=4 or BR=5 in second year to get that over with.

    i hope this all makes sense!

    ——————————————

    just sent you an ask about english major stuff! i forgot to also mention that one of the courses i want to take for fun is CIN215, so that’s why i only have 0.5 FCEs left for my other major (whatever it’ll be). you probably don’t need all of this info, but just making sure haha thank u again!

    ——————————————

    hey there,

    welcome to the ask box! i do love a Responsible Student™.

    i’ll try to answer your questions in order. first, do i have any tips on finding a good program?

    finding a program that you love can be tough for a lot of students — many of us don’t wake up one day and just instantly know what we want to do. here are some of my suggestions:

    • did you take an introductory course to random a subject in first year, only to find out you absolutely adore that subject? that might be a good sign that you’d enjoy studying it further. this is actually how i chose one of my programs.
    • sit down and take the time to really flesh out your academic interests. you probably like reading and writing given that you’re interested in english — and that’s great because you’d need to read and write in many of the humanities and social sciences. is there anything within those fields that you find particularly important? are you passionate about equity, or documentaries, or gender, or creative writing? in all likelihood, there’s another major out there that will both use your skills and get you excited.
    • you could also find something that complements english well, or goes at literature from a different angle. lit and crit, for example.

    i can also refer you to some programs that i’ve heard people really enjoy:

    • diaspora and transnational studies is quite groundbreaking, and will push you conceptually. i’ve had friends transfer into that program from things like IR and polisci, because it’s a lot less eurocentric and a lot more cutting-edge. if you’re interested in gaining cultural competencies, talking about diaspora and orientalism and nostalgia, and understanding globalization, this program is very cool.
    • book and media studies apparently has some not-so-thrilling required courses, but i know people in the program who really love it once those courses are over and done with. BMS has some really cool fourth-year seminars taught by well-known figures in the journalism/publishing industry, and sometimes i wish i was in this program.
    • urban studies is also really interesting if you were drawn to u of t because of the city!

    second, is it weird for you to take 200-level courses in third year? absolutely not. i know tons of people who do it. i even know people who take first year courses in your fourth year. i see the 100/200/300/400 level designations more so as recommendations (and determinants of grading expectations) than i do rules.

    in fact, i think it may be a good idea to free up some second-year space for courses from your other major, since u of t’s upper-year courses tend to have so many prereqs based on second year program requirements. for that reason, although i understand your desire to take fun courses, i would caution you to make sure you focus on getting your program requirements out of the way first so that your later studies aren’t impeded.

    if you have any further questions you can shoot me another message. i’d also recommend that you get in touch with your registrar’s office if you’d like someone to talk this over with you via the phone. an academic advisor there will have access to your full academic history, and will also know the ins and outs of planning your degree. in a sense, they’re often a lot more helpful than i can be.

    i hope this helped! good luck with whatever you ultimately decide to do. i have faith that you’ll make the best decision for yourself!

    be Boundless,

    aska

  • breadth requirements,  distribution

    can’t they just pick one name for it already

    Hi! I’m very confused about the difference between distribution requirements and breadth requirements! Please help :/

    ——————————————

    hey there,

    i’m really sorry this took so long, and thank you for the wait! this system is indeed confusing and i’m glad you asked.

    unless you’re at UTM, you don’t need to worry about distribution requirements — at the other campuses, i believe they’re no longer active requirements. at UTM, i believe distribution requirements are still active and breadth requirements are not required. you’d basically need 1.0 FCE in each of the science, social science, and humanities categories to complete UTM’s distribution requirements.

    at utsc, the breadth requirements mean that you need to take 0.5 FCE in each of the following categories, which i’ve copy/pasted below from this webpage. 

    • Arts, Literature, and Language
    • Natural Sciences
    • History, Philosophy, and Cultural Studies
    • Quantitative Reasoning
    • Social and Behavioural Sciences

    meanwhile, at st. george, to complete breadth requirements you need either 1.0 FCE in four of the following categories, OR 1.0 FCE in three of the categories and 0.5 FCE in the two remaining categories.

    1 Creative and Cultural Representations
    2. Thought, Belief, and Behaviour
    3. Society and Its Institutions
    4. Living Things and Their Environment
    5. The Physical and Mathematical Universes

    however, in all cases, you don’t need to complete these requirements in your first year. it is sometimes smart to get them out of the way early so you don’t need to worry about them when you’re getting ready to graduate, but if you need more time you do have it!

    i hope this cleared things up!

    be Boundless,

    aska

  • subject POST

    this is difficult difficult lemon difficult

    Hello! Hope you’re doing well 🙂 I had a really tough time between 2017-2019 but I’ve picked myself back up and am now getting 3.5-4.0s.. but even if i get 3.5-4.0’s in my 6 winter courses my GPA will be 1.95 and the bio major cutoff is 2.0. I’ve completed every course for the major but my gpa is almost there… i was wondering if there’s still a chance I can get in (if i beg to someone lol:( I’ve even accepted my grad request and approved for my psych major. pls tell me what u think i can do 🙁

    ——————————————

    hey there,

    i’m doing all right, thanks!

    i’m so glad to hear that you’re doing better, even though you went through a pretty rough patch. however, i’m not really sure what can be done. i’m not aware of any appeals process for program admission.

    your best bet is probably to get in touch with your registrar. an academic advisor at your registrar’s office may know more about your options than i do — contrary to what some might think, this situation you’re in isn’t super unusual. i’ve seen it on this blog a few times. also get in touch with the department. since they’re the ones who presumably make program admissions decisions, if you were to appeal to anyone, it would be them.

    sorry i don’t have anything more definitive to give you! i really hope you manage to work this out, as your GPA really is so close and i’m sure you put a lot of work in to bring it back up. wishing you all the best of luck <3

    be Boundless,

    aska

  • cinema studies,  subject POST,  Uncategorized

    it’s that time of year again

    Hey! I’m a first year who’s been thinking about POSTs. I’m probably going to major in English and I want to do creative expression in society as a minor, and maybe either book and media studies or cinema studies as my second major. The thing is, I never took CIN105 (the prerequisite) which means I’d have to do it in my second year. How do I go about applying for these programs then? i hope this makes sense lol thank you

    ——————————————

    hey there,

    thank you for waiting for this answer! i hope you had a great reading week, or at least a half-decent one.

    this is a good question, and you’re not alone in wanting to register in a program for which you lack the prerequisite. i feel like i’ve actually seen this specific question in recent months, which means someone else at u of t is also trying to get into cinema studies without the prereq.

    you should be able to apply for english easily — english is an open program, so as long as you have 4.0 FCEs, the major should let you in. the creative expression and society minor is also open enrolment, and while the book and media studies major isn’t open enrolment, it only requires that you have a grade of 67% or higher in at least one 100+ level course. doable, i think. for information about the specifics of applying to programs, check out this lovely sid smith page that boils it all down very nicely. 

    as for a cinema studies major, that’s absolutely still a possibility. what you can do is take CIN105 in your second year and apply during the POSt application period following your second year. in the meantime, you can select another open enrolment program as a placeholder. you need to do that because, unless you are enrolled in the minimum program combination (a specialist, double major, or major + two minors) by the time fall/winter course enrolment happens, you’ll be blocked from selecting courses.

    it doesn’t really matter what placeholder you pick, but the smart thing to do with the  would be to select a program that’ll give you priority enrolment for courses you’re interested in taking. that way, you can take advantage of priority privileges for a year.

    the final thing to note is that you shouldn’t drop your placeholder until after you get into cinema studies, just to be safe.

    i hope this helped, and that your first year is going all right! good luck with your midterms and finals — i’m rooting for you.

    be Boundless,

    aska

  • grades,  writing centre

    how 2 write good

    Hi! So I’m a first year who’s taking a lot of English/literature/writing courses. I knew that my marks would drop a lot coming to uni, and I’m proud of myself for the marks I’m getting. However, I was wondering if you have any tips for improving our writing. I always get somewhere in the low 80s for my marks on my essays, and the highest I’ve gotten is an 85. Again, I’m super happy with myself, but I’m just genuinely getting confused on how to improve. I’ve gone to my profs/TAs office hours for feedback, and also go to the writing centre for each assignment. But it seems like regardless of whether I take in their feedback or not, I’m always stuck in this little range of grades. So, I was wondering if you have any tips or advice. Thanks 🙂

    ——————————————

    hey there,

    i hope your first year has been going all right given the circumstances, and i’m glad you reached out about this! you should be proud of yourself, you are doing great during a particularly difficult time to be adjusting to the academic demands of university.

    it’s great that you’re going to office hours for feedback and visiting the writing centre — those are really the two best things you can do. you can also find some really great resources for papers at writing.utoronto.ca, or book an appointment with a learning strategist if you’re interested in improving your paper-writing process.

    i do wonder if there’s a more effective way you could be asking for feedback.

    if you’re able to consistently book time with the same writing centre instructor, for example, they’ll get to know your writing style better and might make stronger recommendations. i’ve been working with the same instructor for over a year now, and during my appointments, i feel like i’m actually receiving really valuable lessons. she now takes the time to explain sentence structure and grammar to me, where she mostly would’ve just made corrections when we didn’t know each other quite as well. if you’re able to try something similar, that might improve the quality of the feedback you receive.

    alternatively, you can try bringing old papers to office hours during the first few weeks of a new class, and ask your instructor to look over your writing style and make early recommendations for things you can work on. if you let them know that you’re really keen on succeeding in their class and improving your skills, i can’t imagine why they wouldn’t want to help you.

    you may also want to look into the english students’ union, and see if they run any mentorship or peer help programs. in my experience, most upper years at u of t are really kind and happy to help you succeed, so if you can find someone who’s been studying english for a while, you might be able to get some good pointers that way.

    apart from that, i truly think the best way to become a better writer is to become a more critical reader. if you can learn to deconstruct an essay that you think is particularly well written, figure out why it works, and apply that to your own writing, you’ll be in a much better position. i don’t know if you know this, but i believe the writing centre can actually help you with learning to read more critically. you can bring a reading from class in and go through it with an instructor.

    i’ve actually never taken an english course at u of t, so i don’t feel like the most qualified person to give you tips on this.

    plus, it’s really hard to tell someone how to improve their writing without reading a paper that they’ve written! but i hope something in here has at least given you an idea of how to move forward.

    good luck with the rest of your semester! i hope you’re able to achieve your grade goals soon.

    be Boundless,

    aska

  • medicine,  scholarships/bursaries

    love me some free scholarships

    What is this program for ? And is there free scholarship for studying medicine ,?

    ——————————————

    hey there,

    i’m not really sure what you mean by “this program” — if you’re referring to this blog, what i do here is answer anonymous questions from current and prospective students! i’m a current u of t student who happens to be particularly knowledgeable about the way things work at this school, and i do my best to provide what academic, extracurricular, and life advice i can.

    if you’re interested in studying medicine at u of t and would like to find out what scholarships are offered, you can check this webpage out. i wouldn’t say that these scholarships are necessarily “free” — if you look into them, they have different requirements (academic standing, financial need, ancestry, etc.). some scholarships require applications and others don’t; some are open to only certain kinds of students, like first-years. but if you meet the qualifications, it is a little bit like free money!

    i hope this helped, and let me know if you have any other questions.

    be Boundless,

    aska

  • mental health,  you don't even go here

    treat yourself with value <3

    Hello! I love this account and while I don’t go to UofT, I was wondering if you have any tips for maintaining one’s mental health, especially during online school. I feel like I’m dragging myself around the house, and every time I turn on my laptop, I immediately feel anxious and overwhelmed.

    ——————————————

    cw: mental health, anxiety

    hey there,

    thanks so much for the kind words about this blog, and for waiting for this answer! i hope it’s still helpful to you.

    i totally relate to what you say you’re feeling, and have noticed that a lot of my friends are struggling right now. online school is hard, this pandemic sucks, things are so chaotic and we miss the people we love… it’s perfectly understandable that we’re all feeling anxious and overwhelmed.

    i don’t feel super qualified to share mental health tips, but as someone who grapples with their mental health, i can tell you about a few things i’m doing that are helping me. i hope that will at least give you some ideas of things that might help!

    going outside 

    i don’t know what the weather is like where you are, but leaving my room once a day for natural light and fresh air (what little penetrates through my mask lol) has helped me feel more like a person. there are so many things to notice outside, even in areas i’m super familiar with. plus, it helps with my sense of overwhelm, because anything that jolts me out of my regular headspace reminds me that the world is bigger than me and whatever failures i might be afraid of experiencing, lol.

    if you need motivation to go outside, here’s a link to a podcast episode a friend sent me. listening to it while i walked made me feel like i was traveling, which is a feeling i miss very dearly. if you choose to go for a walk and listen to it, i hope it makes you as happy as it made me.

    regulating my sleep schedule 

    this can be a tough one for me because revenge bedtime procrastination is a real thing, but when i feel well rested, i feel less… like crap. and i need less caffeine to function, which is great because caffeine can trigger my anxiety. get 7-9 hours a night if you’re able — i seriously think it makes a difference.

    eating well

    my therapist once told me that irregular eating patterns can contribute to really bad mood swings that make you feel more depressed and anxious — i think it has something to do with how blood sugar levels drop. so lately i’ve been trying to eat like i value myself, which means eating healthier for better energy but also getting takeout from my favourite places because it makes me happy.

    making sure i socialize! 

    i know a lot of people are struggling with isolation right now, which is particularly difficult because loneliness can contribute to poor mental health. regular interaction with other people can help with that.

    lately, i’ve been reaching out to friends, sometimes even ones i barely speak to anymore, to schedule zoom study sessions. if you’ve been feeling easily overwhelmed by your studies, getting things done with a friend to keep you accountable may help. if you can join an active discord server with people that have similar interests to yours (ie. a student union discord server for your program), you can also get some social interaction that way.

    in general, it’s really important to find a balance between completing your responsibilities and doing things that make you feel refreshed and happy.

    accessing support 

    while i think lifestyle can help with mental health, i don’t think it’s a silver bullet, and have definitely needed the support of a therapist at several points during this pandemic.

    if you are a student at another university, i’d encourage you to look into the supports and resources that your school provides. maybe you can access an on-campus therapist (virtually, of course), or maybe you have some kind of insurance coverage for off-campus support. if you’re struggling with your mental health, i do think you deserve to get professional help.

    all in all, i feel like my tips can be summed up by: treat yourself with value. you deserve it.

    i hope this helped! sending you all the love — i hope you find something that works for you.

    be Boundless,

    aska

  • admissions,  grad school

    wrote you an essay

    hi, i’m looking into speech pathology for my masters at UofT and it’s such a dream to go there but i’ve heard a lot of bad things about it,,? specifically the over the top strain regarding work load; university is hard, duh, but people have been telling me it’s worse than other unis regarding this but i don’t know how true that is. in addition, i’m not sure how much you know about the speech pathology program there (i’ve done a considerable amount of research on it myself) but i was just wondering if there was any insight you might be able to offer? thanks <3

    ——————————————

    hey there,

    thank you for waiting for this answer!

    i feel like i’ve gotten questions about speech pathology in the past, but unfortunately, u of t is such a huge school that it would be impossible for me to be familiar with every program.

    i can write a little in response to what you’ve heard about u of t, though, in hopes it will help you in your deliberations.

    in many ways, getting to attend u of t really is a dream. before attending here, i experienced a dilemma similar to what you’re weighing now — i wanted to become a u of t student so bad, but i’d heard such terrible things about the school. one of the smartest people i knew said they wouldn’t be able to pay him any amount of money to choose u of t. my friends at other canadian universities are convinced that no matter how bad they have it, u of t students have it worse.

    in some respects, it is really important to acknowledge the strain that studying at u of t can create. the workload is demanding, the expectations are high, and your peers are brilliant. in certain programs more so than others (think super-exclusive ones likely to attract ambition), there’s an atmosphere of competition. many students, especially those who are racialized, LGBTQ, and women, experience pretty intense impostor syndrome here. u of t is also many years deep in a student mental health crisis. i don’t want to paint this school as rainbows and butterflies, because it’s not. it is absolutely true that some people have a deeply difficult time at this school.

    with that said, that’s only one potential side to the u of t experience. while my experience does contain some of the difficult things i’ve mentioned above, i am incredibly happy with my choice to attend u of t and am glad that the horror stories didn’t scare me away. for starters, u of t is an innovative university — my course material regularly blows my mind, which makes learning here so much fun. i’ve gotten a boost to my career here that i don’t think i would have elsewhere — being a u of t student comes with so many opportunities and valuable connections. i have had to study hard, but alongside that i’ve met some of my favourite people ever, felt supported by most of my professors and TAs, and got to be involved in some really cool extracurriculars. u of t has so many offerings, and if you’re willing and able to invest in your learning and your community, you will get a lot out of studying here. i should also note that there are a lot of student supports available to help you succeed, like writing centres and learning strategists. 

    actually, i took a semester of courses at a different canadian university, and actually got lower grades there. go figure. i think to a certain extent, university is just university and you have to grind no matter where you are.

    if you’re worried about what you’re hearing about u of t, i’d take a step back and consider yourself as a student. what kind of support system do you have? what do you value from a university education? what are the pros and cons of all your options? if you have the passion to engage in rigorous study and the support system to see you through challenges in your personal life and degree, and if this is truly a good option for you, then i wouldn’t shy away just because you’ve heard bad things. my experience here has been good. yours can be, too.

    be Boundless,

    aska

     

  • enrollment,  enrolment,  summer

    summer school here u come

    when is enrolment for summer courses? how do we go about doing that? is it different from normal semester enrolment?

    ——————————————

    hi there,

    thank you for waiting for this answer! i hope it’s still of use to you.

    assuming you’re in artsci, by february 24, you should know your summer enrolment start time. you’ll be able to find that on ACORN, just like normal!

    summer enrolment is pretty much the same as the fall, only you can’t enrol in as many courses. you should also be aware that there’s a different timetable for the summer — last year’s was https://timetable.iit.artsci.utoronto.ca/summer2020, so i’d assume this summer’s will be the same but with the year changed. that’ll be up when it’s ready.

    i hope this helped! good luck with your midterms.

    be Boundless,

    aska

  • admissions

    don’t we all wish i was the admissions average fairy

    hey i was wondering what average is needed to get into utm forensic science program 🙂

    ——————————————

    hi there,

    unfortunately, the admissions average changes year to year depending on the batch of applicants. so as much as i’d love to give you a concrete answer, it would be impossible for me to say!

    as far as i’m aware, no admissions average is published anywhere.

    if you’d like, you can always try getting in contact with the department, but i wouldn’t be surprised if they also can’t tell you.

    sorry i can’t be more helpful! best of luck with your (potential???) application, though.

    be Boundless,

    aska

  • jobs

    1-800-hire-me-please

    Hiiii! I’m a first year right now and I was wondering if you have any tips on applying to internships. I know things like that are probably weird because of covid, but any tips/advice is appreciated 🙂 Thank you!!

    ——————————————

    hey there,

    i’m glad you reached out — thank you for your patience with me getting back to you!

    it’s really great of you to be thinking about internships already.

    it’s a little difficult for me to answer this in the sense that the advice i’d give might vary depending on what types of internships you’re looking for, but i’ll do my best.

    tip #1: the career exploration centre has some resources that will be super useful for you as you apply to positions. for example, they offer a resume workbook and resume and cover letter toolkit, which are excellent guides for putting together job application materials. you can also book an appointment to have your resume/application reviewed, or practice your interview skills.

    plus, there are occasional employer recruitment sessions that you might want to keep an eye out for.

    tip #2: i’d seek out a mentorship program with your college, department, or program, and see if you can get in touch with some upper years in the same field as you. chances are that they’ll have applied to jobs in your field or might know people who have. if you get really lucky, they might even know about open positions.

    tip #3: if you’re looking for opportunities, comb the internet but be smart about it. craigslist and kijiji boards might not be your best bet for an internship. is there an industry-specific job board that might be of use to you? do the companies you’re interested in working with have a “join us” or “careers” section on their website? social media can also be useful — i see a fair number of internship postings on twitter and linkedin.

    tip #4: if you’re interested in a specific internship and can find a previous intern, perhaps one who’s posted about the internship somewhere like linkedin, you can reach out and ask (very politely!) if you can ask them questions about the job. they may be able to give you a better sense of what the internship entails and what the hiring manager is looking for in an applicant. please note that i don’t know if this tip is appropriate for all industries though, so use your best judgement!

    i hope this helped! i really think your first stop should be the career centre, because they’re 100% more qualified to give advice out than i am.

    be Boundless,

    aska

  • subject POST

    dunno how i missed that

    Hi, hope you’re doing well! I’m a first year student at utsg, hoping to major in literature and critical theory. However, there are two streams for it: the comparative stream and the cultural stream. They seem very similar and only have slightly different requirements, and I can’t seem to find anything to determine what the differences between them are, to choose the best one for me. I was hoping you could help. Thanks!! <3

    ——————————————

    hi there,

    i hope you’re doing well too, and that your first year is going all right!

    i don’t personally know anything about lit and crit, and couldn’t find anything on the internet either. i ended up reaching out to a friend who graduated from the program to see if she might know anything about the streams.

    she told me that there’s not a huge difference between the streams, but as far as she can recall, the comparative stream requires you to take more language credits than the cultural stream. meanwhile, if you choose the cultural stream, you have to take more social science/cultural studies/humanities classes, like sociology or women & gender studies. otherwise, most of the courses are the same.

    i was later able to confirm all that information here — i don’t know how i missed it the first time i was looking. i guess i didn’t quite know what i was looking for.

    click that link! it’ll give you all the details you need.

    if you have any other program-related questions you can’t find answers for on the internet, remember that you can always reach out to the department, in this case victoria college.

    be Boundless,

    aska