• admissions,  mental health

    the risk of losing one’s identity… in the chaos

    1. I’m scared to accept my offer to uoft for fear of my mental health degrading. Is it truly, truly, as competitive as most people make it out to be? 2. Would it be better to go to Ryerson if I am a student who works hard but tends to overthink my grades a lot? There are many aspects of uoft to love; I wouldn’t want to deny my offer because I’m scared of hard work, because it seems like a cop out. However, at the risk of losing one’s identity in the chaos, I don’t know if it’s right for me.

    ——————————————

    hello hello,

    i’m glad you reached out. to be honest, these were concerns i had when i got my offer of admission as well. especially if you’re a domestic (Ontario???) student, you’ll probably have heard a lot about how hard u of t is and how deep we are into a mental health crisis. it’s hard not to be scared. i don’t blame you.

    without knowing you and your specific circumstances, it’s inevitably gonna be a little hard for me to give you the best advice. but i’ll do what i can, and hopefully after you read this you at least have a better sense of what it’s like here from my perspective. thanks to covid, i’ve got plenty of time on my hands, and can give you a pretty detailed rundown of my thoughts on the matter.

    is u of t as competitive as people make it out to be? yes and no.

    yes, in that it’s the top postsecondary institution in the country and for that reason alone attracts very ambitious (and often advantaged) students, both domestically and from abroad. is that necessarily bad? i’m not sure. i’ve met some incredibly driven and accomplished peers in my time here, and it’s honestly pretty inspiring. but it does mean that your basis for comparison with your classmates is going to be pretty different from what it might have been at another school. if you don’t acclimatize well to that– and if your identity is super tied to your grades and position in a class– then on average, u of t may not be the healthiest for you.

    academically, there’s probably something to be said as well. in some of the humanities classes i’ve taken, the TAs are pretty transparent about the fact that they’re expected to grade you in relation to the other people in your class. even if you’re in a class full of A-calibre work, only a few people will qualify for A’s, etc etc. i’m not sure what the situation is like in programs outside mine, but i wouldn’t be surprised if it’s similar.

    but if you’re interested in reading about the grade deflation situation at u of t, this the varsity article does a good job of explaining the “grade calibration” policy. or a better job than i could do, anyway. i’d recommend reading it over believing the rumors floating around.

    no, in that the level of competition isn’t standard across the school. and you can definitely make choices to shield yourself from the worst of it.

    i will admit that there are some really cutthroat programs– you’ll know which ones they are, because when you apply for a subject POSt after first year they’ll usually be a type three, sometimes a type two. type two and three programs are defined by more stringent admission requirements– for example, meeting a grade threshold in certain classes, completing interviews, or even having your CGPA assessed. they have those stringent requirements because there’s often more student demand for those programs than there is space in them. as a result, it makes sense that they’d be filled with brighter/more competitive students.

    so it’s important to be aware of the type of program you’re choosing. a good friend told me that in her professional program at u of t, there is definitely a competitive culture that’s at least borderline toxic. it stems from everyone in the program knowing who’s good and who’s not– the way they’re graded and given feedback is very public, in an unavoidable way. i’ve heard competitive things about engineering and rotman as well.

    BUT someone on reddit told me (before i got here) that u of t has some really great niche programs where you’re more likely to find a sense of community than a competitive atmosphere. i’ve found this to be true, both in experience and from talking to other people. i personally went for a type one artsci program over a type three i’d been interested in, and haven’t found there to be any noticeable toxicity. unless i have a close friend in the class with me, i’ll never know what other people are getting. the one exception is in my stats class– my prof LOVES to graph the grade distribution to show you how many people did better than you. thanks, dude. he also writes problems that are coronavirus, mental health, and student debt themed, so… whatever. i’m sure there are instructors like him at tons of schools.

    my point is, i haven’t noticed any substantial competition in the programs i chose. but i chose them intentionally, with my own mental well-being in mind. what you choose is up to you, and i get that sometimes what you want to study is going to by nature be a more competitive program. whether or not that’s right for you is an assessment only you can make.

    the culture in different programs is obviously going to be different, and it would be impossible to give you a sort of blanket statement for the whole school. i’ve given you the most detailed take on it i can muster.

    is there hope? i always think so, yes. outside your subject POSts, you can definitely surround yourself with forms of community that will help cushion you from the competitive nature of the school. whether that’s a group of friends on res, a fun club like the sandwich club, or a choir. or something, i dunno. i’ve met a lot of very supportive people at this school that have helped me get through the day to day of being a stressy student.

    the one rumor about u of t that i think is the most misleading is that it’s an antisocial school. i’m pretty introverted and came here knowing a single person– it took time, but i now have a number of very cherished friends. we don’t have the party culture that mcgill or queen’s has, but i’ve felt very supported by my fellow u of t students. we’re all just trying to get through, after all.

    i also think that u of t has a number of fantastic resources to help you through your degree. one resource i always, always recommend is the registrar’s office. i’ve heard some pretty unfortunate things about the state of academic advising at other major canadian institutions (wow we get it, aska, you’re well connected) and it’s put some things into perspective for me. at least in my experience, registrars at this school are fantastic.

    i do agree that a lot of our resources need more funding/staff/improvement, and will happily throw my support behind anyone pushing for that improvement. but it’s not a total lost cause. i’ve written more about our mental health awareness/resources in this post. 

    one last hopeful thing to throw into the mix– if you’re worried about your grades dropping massively, i should note that it is possible to do well here. i and many of my friends have found that to be the case (i don’t feel weird saying that because no one knows who i am anyway, lmao). it takes work, dedication, and sometimes a bit of luck, but it is possible.

    i’ve learned that intentionality and awareness are super important. this last year, i’ve suffered most from surrounding myself with people i love dearly but who very much buy into the hustle culture of u of t. i was constantly comparing myself to people who were excelling in their fields, but barely sleeping and eating. cause yeah, those people do exist here, in numbers.

    whatever i was doing to myself felt fine because they were doing worse. but i’ve since learned that i can continue to spend time with them AND still care for my well-being by going to therapy, taking space when i need it, and checking in with other friends who have healthier lifestyles. it’s all about finding a balance, and shifting my focus.

    and anyway, something i’ve realized this year is that even when people seem to be thriving, when you get to know them better you realize it’s probably because they’re sacrificing important elements of their wellbeing. don’t set unrealistic benchmarks for yourself. it’s more important to take care of yourself, and slow things down if you need to.

    i guess you could say i’ve learned a lot from weathering u of t culture on a personal-relationship level.

    i guess the point of having mentioned this all is that there are ways to mitigate the level of stress that u of t students experience. for me, this has included choosing my programs very intentionally, being mindful of my headspace and wellbeing, and teaching myself healthier ways to think. i think i would’ve needed to learn these things no matter where i went, just u of t forced me to learn them faster. i’m not ashamed to say that i’ve struggled here. but at the same time, i’ve also been supported very well here. it’s not a one-dimensional story, i guess.

    should you be afraid of your mental health degrading? i’m not sure.

    i think that’s dependent on a myriad of factors, like where you are now with your mental health, what kind of supports you have in place, what types of things trigger you, and what facets of this school you immerse yourself in.

    is health and wellness as bad as it sounds? 

    admittedly, it wasn’t the easiest for me to get help for mental health concerns. i wrote up a previous post with a more in-depth take on how i was feeling about mental health awareness here, in which i mention struggling to get a health and wellness appointment. it was hard enough to admit i needed help, and when my first effort to get an appointment didn’t go through, i really had to push myself to keep trying. i ended up needing to go in person, at which point i was offered an appointment in a week’s time.

    but hey, when i made it to that appointment, i managed to start cognitive behavioural therapy with my college’s embedded counsellor. at the end of the day, i thought it was helpful.

    of course, i’ve heard stories about much longer wait times from friends. so it’s a bit of a hard thing to gauge. i don’t know. i think health and wellness is trying. it’s definitely not perfect, and it’s definitely failed a lot of people. it didn’t fail me, so hey, there’s that.

    with everything considered, would i still choose this school? yes, time and time again. for me, it’s worth it. that doesn’t mean i think the state of things here is okay. all it means is that i’ve done my personal cost-benefit analysis and while i recognize that being at this school (as opposed to someplace less rigorous) takes a toll on my mental health, it has also given me access to opportunities i could only have dreamed of. maybe that cost-benefit would look different for you. i dunno. i don’t know if that’s wrong. it’s the most honest assessment i can give you.

    would it be better for you to go to ryerson? i don’t know, i’ve never been to ryerson and can’t make a fair comparison. i can only tell you what my experience has been like at u of t.

    anyway, here are a few tips from me as you make your decision:

    • read reddit with a grain of salt. i feel like thriving students are not very well-represented on reddit– they’re too busy to be dropping things in threads. be mindful of the sample from which your results are drawn, or whatever.
    • assess your support network. if you’re one of the people who falls through the cracks of u of t’s system, will there be other people there to catch you? for example, in the time between first reaching out and actually getting a health and wellness appointment, my mom spent many hours listening to me cry. mock me for that all you want, i don’t care. my mom is great. and i had other options, as well– good friends to lean on. if i’d already felt isolated in my current life situation, i may not have weathered that gap as well.
    • decide whether or not you’d be able to weather disappointments in your academic career– not getting into your desired subject POSt, watching your GPA drop, etc. in my personal experience, it’s better to come to u of t bracing yourself for a fall that never comes than to show up with high hopes and have them crushed.
    • weigh your priorities. u of t is a great school, but it will demand a lot from you. only you can decide whether or not the tradeoff is worth it.
    • make a pros/cons list, if you think it’ll help you! always good to get those thoughts out of your head and organized.

    i hope this post has been helpful, and gives you a better sense of what it can be like to be a student here. if you know any people at either u of t or ryerson, i’d encourage you to reach out to them as well and get a couple different takes on the situation. i’m also happy to answer any followup questions you have, if you’re not already sick of reading my heckin’ long posts. sorry ’bout it, i’m talkative and in quarantine. gotta do what you gotta do.

    be Boundless,

    aska

  • admissions,  science,  subject POST

    yuhprobablyright,idk

    hiya there aska! i’m from al(aska) [hehehe] and was wondering what the difference is between a specialist science program and a major science program. also what do the 300 or 400 level thingies mean on the courses? also does uoft accept AP physics taken taken in high school? probably right, idk. also does uoft require a language 12 credit for science? yuh muchthank and muchappreciate bye

    ——————————————

    hey there, from al(aska),

    what’s the difference between a specialist and major in the sciences?

    basically, you’d opt for a specialist if you:

    • heckin love the subject material so so much and want to dedicate most of your degree to it
    • are really set on doing grad school in a specific discipline and want to specialize early
    • or otherwise have a very intent and specific interest in a program (or an intent and specific disinterest in everything else, i guess???)
    • want to become a !specialist! at something during your undergrad
    • want opportunities that are only available to specialists, like specific research openings or sometimes even specific classes

    if you do a major you’ll need to do it in conjunction with another major or two minors, meaning with a major you can:

    • diversify! you’ll choose concentrations in multiple subject areas, and have a lot of leeway with what those subject areas are. you can choose one major in the sciences and one in the arts, for example, and still graduate with a bachelor’s of science; or you can choose two majors in very different scientific fields; etc etc. round your education out, friends.
    • explore your interest in a certain program by committing to more extensive study than a minor, without going to the lengths that a specialist would

    this is because a specialist will require you to take more classes (or credits) in a specific department than a major will. usually, the credit breakdown for specialist, majors, and minors is as follows:

    • specialist: between 10 and 14 FCEs
    • major: between 6 and 8
    • minor: 4 FCEs

    if you think about each credit as a yearlong course OR two half-year courses, then that means a minor would account for almost a year’s worth of courses, while a specialist would account for about two to (almost) three years’ worth. a major, then, would be about a year and a half’s worth of courses. obviously, you don’t usually complete one program in one fell swoop then move onto the next one– they’re usually completed alongside each other, in fact. i just thought that might be a helpful way to kind of account for the level of study expected from each type of program. following me so far?

    a few things to note:

    • not all programs will offer all three options (minor, major, specialist). some won’t have the capacity to offer any more than a minor. meanwhile, some bigger departments won’t have built-in allowances for minors, maybe because that level of study isn’t plausible for the subject
    • you can technically choose up to 3 programs in general, as long as that third one is a minor. this means if you really hated yourself, you could do a specialist and a major, or a double major and a minor. i don’t know what would happen if you tried to do 2 specialists and a minor, or a specialist, a major, and a minor. just like,,,,,,, don’t. i guess you could? but don’t.
    • it doesn’t matter if you’re in the arts or sciences! the number of credits required for each program type is the same.

    what do the 300 or 400 level thingies mean?

    how many minutes a day you spend doing classwork. if you do the math, 400 minutes/60 minutes in an hour = 6.67 hours.

    haha the internet already has so much misinformation on it and adding to that doesn’t make me special. the 100/200/300/400 level designations are really meant to indicate what year level the courses are designed for. for example, 100-level courses typically provide general overviews of a topic for first-years, and as you go up the chain, your class sizes will grow smaller and the topics will become more specialized. once you get to 400-level courses, you’re typically looking at very small seminars that will do a deep-dive into a topic, and mark you far more stringently than you would be marked in a 100-level course. this is because most 400-level students will be fourth years.

    in short, the “300/400 level thingies” are indicators of topic depth and coursework expectations! it’s important to note, though, that you don’t need to be a fourth year to take a 400 level course. you just need to meet the prerequisites. i took a 200-level course in first year just for the kicks, because it had no prereqs and i thought it would make me cool. it didn’t. no one cares.

    does uoft accept AP physics taken in high school? 

    heck yea. all the AP physics courses translate to first-year equivalents– you can see the full list here. as you’ll notice, not all AP courses are accepted for credit/accepted as equivalents. the physics APs are probably some of the best to take if you want u of t credit.

    does uoft require a language 12 credit for science?

    haha what. i’m not aware of one. like, if the language you mean is english then yeah, but other than that i don’t think so. i would check the high school prerequisites for the specific programs you’re interested in on this website just to be safe– it’ll vary from department to department, i think. but no, i don’t think you’ll find a language 12 among them.

    i hope this was helpful!

    be Boundless,

    aska

     

  • admissions,  Uncategorized

    just do ur best dawg

    Hi guys! I’m wondering what kind of average I should aim for in Math (I’m in gr 10 but doing Math for gr 11) if I want to pursue something in the Life Sciences area. Also if y’all have any tips for studying please share.

    ——————————————

    hey there,

    Image result for niki just do your best dawg

    i never really have much to say in terms of high school averages. it’s really hard to tell what’s going to be the minimum competitive average in any given year– unfortunately that information isn’t advertised, nor do i have access to it. even then, though, i don’t think your grade 11 math will typically even matter if you’re completing it in your tenth grade year. this page confirms that they’ll base your conditional offer of admission on the most senior-level math course you’ve completed at the time of your application. assuming you apply halfway through 12th grade but finish grade 12 math in grade 11, they’ll really only be looking at your grade 12 mark.

    my recommendation would be more so that you think of grade 11 math as a way of getting the necessary foundations down for grade 12 math and calculus. you’ll need calculus to get into lifesci, although your calculus grade will only be factored into your admissions average if it’s one of your top courses. i can’t really quantify what averages you should be aiming for, but hopefully this tip on what you should focus on helps you out a little.

    in general, i’d just encourage you to do the best you can– reach out to your teachers for help, review your test corrections in depth, and study with friends who can help you out if it won’t be too distracting. at least when i was in high school, it was support from the people around me that helped me bump my math grade up. and just do your best, man. the u of t competitive average isn’t under your control, and although i know it would be nice to have a number to aim for, i just… can’t really give you anything of the sort.

    so that’s all i have to offer. in terms of general tips for studying? check out our tumblr. i’m usually too swamped by the questions in our inbox to create the kind of studyblr content that REALLY speaks to my soul (lol) so i try to reblog all the useful stuff i see out there. here are some of my favorite posts i’ve seen and reblogged recently, in case you’re too lazy to scroll through our whole feed:

    studying myths 

    using whiteboards to study 

    study breaks

    tips for incoming students 

    parkinson’s law

    color coding your notes 

    miscellaneous tips

    check these posts out!

    best of luck with the rest of your high school career and be Boundless,

    aska

  • admissions,  biology,  prereqs

    broaden your horizons, or whatever

    Questions! (I was recently accepted into the faculty of arts and science! Yay!) *deep breath* Here I go: I hope you won’t judge me but I didn’t take any science or math courses in Grade 12 simply because I thought majoring in English would satisfy me. (I severly limited myself, I know, and I’ve been regretting everything) The thing is, I’m now looking at all of these awesome programs that require math, bio, etc. and I was wondering if uoft let’s students take the classes required for those programs that you don’t have the high school prerequisites for. ie. You need to take a bio course for a genome major, but that bio course requires you to have taken grade 12 bio. Is it possible to still get into a more science and math oriented programs? It sounds impossible just typing it out because I don’t know if I would even be able to catch up to university level courses.

    ——————————————

    hey there,

    congrats on your acceptance!

    honestly, you’re thinking about these things pretty early on– you’re in a much better position to catch up than, say, someone who realized the same thing in september of your first year. it’s really cool that your interests are broadening and you’re thinking about what will fulfill you. genomes? dang, dude. that’s some cool stuff.

    i wouldn’t say the game is over for you. as far as i can tell, these are your options:

    • contact the biology department

    i looked up the requirements for the genome major, even though i don’t know if it’s really what you’re interested in or if you just mentioned it as an example. it looks like you are correct and they will be looking at the high school courses you took to determine your eligibility for required courses like BIO120 and BIO130. but both course descriptions mention that you can get in touch with the course office if you don’t have the required prereqs. i’m guessing this means that they have some form of policy for dealing with students lacking prereqs. while i’m not sure what that is, i’m hopeful that they’d be able to provide you with some guidance on this issue.

    if you’re interested in programs other than genome biology and run into the same issue, i’d follow the same path and contact the department. they’re usually the ones who will know whether exceptions can be made for you, and/or what your best course of action is. department contact info can usually be found under the program listing on the artsci calendar. 

    • take summer school

    if your summer is unoccupied and the thought of spending the lovely months of july and august in a classroom doesn’t make you want to soak your pillowcase in tears, then covering those science/math prereqs in the summer is always an option.

    i still think you should contact the relevant u of t departments first, just to make sure that you don’t unnecessarily pile on schoolwork in the summer. i also don’t really know how many prereqs you think you need, and whether those could plausibly be completed over your break. i don’t know how it works for you, but what i remember from taking summer school in high school was that you were limited to two courses at a time???? obviously, that’s probably different in different systems/provinces/countries etc.

    it may also be important to note that once you complete those courses, you should provide proof of completion to your registrar/the department. the department is allowed to kick you out of a course as soon as they realize you don’t have the prereqs, which can even happen in the first few weeks of school. i don’t really want you to have to deal with that nasty surprise, so this has been your heads up.

    • take online courses

    you can also consider taking your prereq courses online. if you’re in ontario, ontario virtual school will probably be able to help you out. if you’re not in ontario, you can try talking to your high school guidance counsellor– ask them to point you in the right direction re: reputable online schools. from what i remember about high school online courses, you can start them whenever and finish them whenever. that might give you a little more flexibility– if you feel up to it, you can get started now and have those transcripts ready much, much earlier.

    best of luck with everything! i wouldn’t say it’s impossible to catch up, maybe just a bit more work. hope this helped and congratulations again on your acceptance.

    be Boundless,

    aska

  • admissions,  computer science,  international students,  scholarships/bursaries

    it is i, u of t student, a president of 80 whole clubs

    Hey! I am a international student who is in her 11th year in hell- ahem I mean school of course. I dont want to sound like STucK-uP student but I have pretty good grades and I am above the average. I want to attend Major in Computer Science in University of Toronto. Yes I have some good EC’s. But I do not have any national awards nor not a president of 80 clubs. I know acceptance rate is pretty low on computer science especially for international students. Is there any chance for me to get in U of T with a good amount of scholarships? Thank you in advance! ( I know it is stupid to ask you something like that. Since you are not a admissioner or something like that. But I am just desperate:(. So is there anyone you know in U of T who was in the same situation like me? )

    ——————————————

    hey there,

    hahahaha bold of you to assume i know people at this school.

    just kidding, i have really mixed feelings about having made that joke because it perpetuates the stereotype that u of t is hella lonely and antisocial. it can be for some, but i don’t think that’s true across the board.

    anyway. not what you were asking. no, i don’t know anyone at u of t who was in your exact situation — i’m guessing in part because no one really talks about how they got in? nor do people regularly talk about how many admissions scholarships they got– if they do, that’s a lil red flaggy and they’re probably the kind of person i steer clear of anyway.

    your instincts were right that i can’t give you any definitive answers, seeing as i don’t work in admissions and don’t have any concrete info about you anyway. if you’re an international student, the school doesn’t seem to post any minimum grade range requirements, which actually really sucks why are things like this we don’t know??? @ u of t what’s up guys :/

    i don’t know what extracurriculars would make you competitive, either– i would say quality over quantity is usually the way to go, and i don’t think you need that much quantity at all. your extracurriculars are only relevant insofar as they apply to the computer science supplemental application, which (since it’s new) i know next to nothing about. my guess is that they’ll ask you to answer a few very focused questions, so try to play up your strengths and highlight the advantages of the extracurriculars you mentioned that you have. if you have questions about the supplemental, you can contact the department (maybe their academic advisors, since they don’t provide an admissions contact) and ask.

    in terms of scholarships, you will be automatically considered for some (mostly on the basis of academic merit/financial need, i believe) and can apply to others. i’ve filtered through the scholarship website to show the international undergraduate admissions scholarships you might be eligible for– linked here.  while i can’t say what your chances are, as that’ll depend on the pool of applicants (look at me, picking up that bureaucratic u of t lingo like a true cog in the machine), i’d encourage you to go for whatever you think you’re eligible for. sure, you might not ever hear back (like me and every scholarship i’ve applied for (haha cry pls fund my education) but if you do, it could take thousands of dollars off your back. kinda worth, tbh.

    best of luck with the applications process! aska is cheering for you. also, if you haven’t heard, the computer science program is kinda changing the way they do admissions this year. this varsity article will give you the low-down, and might be worth the read. 

    be Boundless,

    aska

  • admissions,  internal transfer,  transcripts,  Transferring

    someone’s jumping ship from utm or utsc

    hey do you know if i need transcripts (from uoft and/or high school) to apply for an internal transfer to utsg?

    —————————————— 

    hey friend,

    i started an ouac internal application myself to figure this out for you, so here’s hoping they don’t actually hold me to finishing this lol, i am happy where i am.

    under the ‘transcript requests’ section of the application, you will be required to have transcripts sent directly from whatever your high school was, as well as from your current u of t campus. this u of t website also says that yes, they will be looking at your full academic history to evaluate your application.

    hope this helped and best of luck with your internal application!

    be Boundless and have a good winter break,

    aska

     

     

  • admissions,  economics

    you totally just asked your question twice i see you

    Hey, how are you?

    I am a grade 11 student and I want to pursue law in the near future. I wanna do undergrad in econ, and I was looking but I couldn’t really figure out the cut off average that uft looks at when deciding on applicants. I have many extracurricular activities, so I’m not really worried about my supplementary application. But basically my three questions are:
    1. what average do I need to get in ENG4U to get accepted into Econ undergrad?
    2. What average do I need in grade 12 math courses?
    3. What average do I need overall?

    ——————————————

    hey, I am looking at Econ undergrad requirements, and I can’t figure out what is the cut off average to get admitted into this program. I know we have to take ENG4U and grade 12 math, but I can’t figure out what averages you need in these courses, and what average you need overall to be admitted into the econ undergrad program. Also, I would love some advice about this decision I may make, because I wanna pursue law later on.

    ——————————————

    hey there,

    are you… the same person? or two people with eerily similar questions? i don’t care, i’m just gonna write one post up. christmas is in five days and i have ten questions to get thru, some of which are very perplexing. plEASE LET ME take a BReaK 🙁

    all right. let’s see. it’s not easy to find anymore because the google search result for it brings up a 404, but if you go through the artsci website itself there is this chart with admissions averages for each program. econ falls into the social sciences admissions category, so whether you’re from ontario or another province  you’ll need an english grade in the low to mid 80s with an admissions average of about the same. i’m guessing you’re an ontario kiddo, though, given ENG4U.

    as for grade 12 math, i have a lil nugget of insider’s knowledge from the registrar’s office for ya. they’ve switched up the way they do admissions for this year– as long as you have your grade 12 math requirement, it doesn’t really matter if it’s super high. they’re not looking at it as rigorously for your batch of admissions. so don’t worry too much about blasting your grade into the sky. just get it done and under your belt, bud.

    dunno if you were hoping for law school advice as well, but given that you didn’t directly ask any questions, i’m assuming my job here is done today.

    be Boundless,

    aska

     

     

  • admissions,  subject POST

    i also have major questions tbh

    double major questions: do I need to take certain prerequisite courses for BOTH majors I want to take in my first year of uni? would I apply for both majors using ACORN after my first year? I’m struggling to figure out how the degree combinations work with the 4.0 credit requirements and all that. thank you in advance!
    ——————————————
    hey there,

    i’m not too sure what you mean by 4.0 credit requirements– does this refer to… a program requirement? a course requirement? i know i’ve registered in courses that were only available to students with 4.0 credits and above, which basically just means they’re not available to first years. or maybe what you mean is the 4.0 credits of overlap you’re permitted between two majors that each require 8.0 credits each? i’m wracking my brain here, man. i can’t figure out what you’re gettin at.

    to answer the questions i feel like i can answer, in general, yes, you do need to take certain prereqs in first year for whatever programs you’re considering. that’s true whether or not you’re taking a double major. they’ll be considered for admission to whatever programs you apply to at the end of your first year. you can find those prereq listings on the arts and science calendar— just search for the programs you’re interested in, or browse the alphabetical directory.

    i say in general because there are exceptions. for example, certain programs (usually type 1 programs) don’t have first year prereqs. you can register in english, forest biomaterials, or diaspora and transnational studies without any first year prerequisites, for example. although, i should note, if this applies to you it would certainly be helpful to take program courses in first year, even if they’re not necessarily considered prerequisites. doing so will help you get a feel for what that program is like, as well as allow you to start counting courses towards program requirements earlier on.

    check out this webpage to find out what program type your prospective majors would be. this one, meanwhile, is supposed to tell you what your application periods are– it hasn’t been updated yet, but i anticipate it should be soon. and yes, you will request/apply for programs on ACORN once those application periods open up.

    if you’d like help figuring out how your degree requirements work, feel free to send the specifics my way and i can try to help make sense of it! i’ve spent a lot of time doing that kinda stuff because my own programs are a little whack and require a heckin’ lot of forethought to be able to complete in 20.0 credits. otherwise:

    be Boundless,

    aska

  • admissions

    look ma, i’m an insider

    What are some pros and cons of going to UofT? I really want an insider’s perspective

    ——————————————

    wild. this is more open-ended than the essay prompts on my exams. what’s expected of me? i do not know. as with everything else in my life, i’ll probably overshoot, but, hey. i’m guessing you’re not here for ambivalence and mediocrity anyway.

    i feel like this is actually a really case-by-case thing. as in, what’s a pro for me may not be a pro for you. but i can give you my list and you can see how ya feel about it.

    off the top of my head, here are the definitive wins of being a student at this school, as far as i see it:

    • the downtown campus. it’s beautiful, especially in the fall, and has a lot of stories to tell.
    • heckin’ number of clubs (and libraries! some schools have 2, we raise you a whopping 44.)
    • academic diversity— there are a bunch of pretty niche programs here that i don’t believe are widely offered at the undergraduate level, like urban studies or bioethics. there are also some really cool courses— i believe the executive editor of the walrus taught a one-time-only course on #metoo and the media this year.
    • top-notch profs, doing some of the coolest research. i’ve had more phenomenal profs than i’ve had terrible or even mediocre ones, which i think really speaks to the caliber of people this school employs. this is obviously a very subjective assessment, but that’s been my experience thus far.
    • a lot of departments are very well-connected in terms of opportunities. the peace, conflict, and justice program, for example, places a lot of students with NGOs like amnesty international.
    • the innis cafe
    • lots of options for a sense of community, because as a large school there are so many different small communities on campus
    • plenty of coffee shops all over campus. i can’t find any comprehensive lists (maybe i should write one!?!?) but here’s a blog post that runs you down a few. suffice it to say that there is always one within a 5 minute’s walk of you, no matter where you are on campus.
    • some pretty cool places to study, like the OISE lounge with a view of the skyline or the gerstein journal stacks with the glass floors
    • i’ve met a lot of really cool peers, working on everything from chemistry research to podcasts to magazines. i was at a holiday art gallery last week, and there was a ton of impressive student art. this school has a lot of creative, driven, and friendly people, which can be intimidating but is mostly pretty inspiring.
    • because the student population is large, some pretty sick events happen on campus. we recently had the some of the raptors come give a mental health talk at one of the on-campus athletic centres, with a performance from jp saxe. it was free. hart house theatre also puts out some really quality shows.

    here are some unexpected, slightly questionable wins:

    • bigger school, more free food. if ya know where to go and have the time to make trips, you can snag some. first year, i remember scavenging multiple meals in a row, although it was admittedly a lil sketch at times. there are also pretty regular free snack events.  happy to do a detailed post on this if anyone’s interested.
    • also more free coffee.
    • more places to nap.
    • more places to exercise, if you’re into that. we have, like, three gyms?? and a lot of fitness programs.
    • the work-study program.
    • corncoming
    • i guess u of t is prestigious, so your parents can flex it if they care about those kinds of things.
    • apparently we get employed. this one better be true.

    some things i, and others, have mixed feelings about:

    • the city of toronto. i could probably write a whole post just on this. toronto can be a massive pro for some people and a massive con for others. it’s often considered one of u of t’s biggest draws, but i think if you’re not from around here the reality of living in downtown toronto can be a tad bit different than expected.
      • the cute: something’s always happening. it’s a real great city to be a young person in. just being out on the streets walking, you see a ton of really quirky, interesting, and fun things. no matter what you’re into, chances are you’ll find it here (unless you’re into the stars, i guess, or nature, or small-town things. you’ll need to leave downtown for that). there are also so many professional and learning opportunities in this city for you to take advantage of.
      • the not so cute: personally, i’ve felt unsafe in the city a few times. nothing’s ever happened to me, but i take precautions. the rental market is also less than ideal.
    • robarts
      • this article lists it as part of a ‘top 10 reasons to go to u of t’ kind of thing. i’m personally not a fan, but it does make for a decent overnight study space. i guess it’s a good example of brutalist architecture, if you’re into that. it seems like most students love to hate robarts. it’s one of the few things a student population this large gets to bond over. but at the end of the day, we all end up there anyway. while we’re on the subject, can anyone tell me what’s so special about the 12th floor, please?

    some less fun things, because really these are just inconveniences but i like to complain:

    • the ttc always seems to be late, but that’s not a u of t specific thing.
    • dunno how important the movie college experience is to you, but sports aren’t really that big here unless you’re in an athletic/intramurals community. as in, we don’t have any iconic games or anything that everyone goes to. i guess in general we’re a little starved for school spirit.
    • our grading system seems to differ a little bit from some of the other ones i’m aware of. it’s harder to get a 3.0 here than it is at mcgill or ubc, because the percentage threshold is a bit higher. granted, our cutoff for a 4.0 is 85 instead of 86, but i didn’t even know you could get a 4.33 at places like ubc, queens and ryerson until yesterday. we cap at 4.0 here, and those are relatively rare. i guess 4.33s aren’t that relevant when you consider that.
    • the food in robarts is subpar— i’ve heard the rice in the burritos isn’t fully cooked sometimes, and i wouldn’t doubt that?
    • queen’s park being under construction all the time makes me sad & makes the walk from victoria college to con hall feel so much longer. it also occasionally floods, which is annoying.
    • don’t walk across king’s college circle in the spring. also slightly flooded, and you might wipe out.
    • the snow and frostbite temperatures are not terribly enjoyable. my ideal lifestyle does not involve a daily trek through the snow, in temperatures so inhospitable that your nose hairs freeze.

    and the reasons that, despite actually quite enjoying this school, i have the occasional angry day of… anger, and think it kind of sucks:

    • the hustle culture and competitive nature of being a student here– this piece from the varsity gives you a better sense of perspective on this than i could. it’s not as impossible to do well as people make it sound, but you will definitely need to grind if you’re planning to take a full courseload and be involved in the community. with that said, there are supports in place to help you out when things get rough, like your registrars, embedded counsellors, and teaching staff. you can thrive and have a good experience here, but you need to be well-equipped and well-supported in order to do so.
    • the way things seem to pile up at the end of the semester. i guess this is true of university in general, but things don’t feel very well-paced to me— they’re slow until after reading week, at which point you don’t really breathe til finals are over. keep in mind this does vary widely by program, but we’re talking about the pros and cons here as i see them, so…
    • the bureaucracy. u of t has so many rules. the teaching staff and admin are expected to play by them, which means that quite often, you won’t be able to get an extension without some kind of doctor’s note or documented proof of exceptional circumstances. it can sometimes feel like there’s a lot of red tape to jump when you’re trying to get accommodations without being registered with accessibility services. i wouldn’t say i feel treated like ‘just a number’ in general, but i have seen the system be quite unsympathetic to certain circumstances.

    well, there ya have it. you asked for a simple, clean-cut pro-con list. i raised you an entire spectrum. enjoy, and feel free to ask follow-ups if anything gets too confusing.

    be Boundless,

    aska

  • admissions,  english,  psychology,  subject POST

    you’re doing amazing!

    Hello! I am applying for U of T soon and I was wondering about the degree combinations. If I complete two majors (I believe you pick your two programs/majors after the first year on ACORN? Please feel free to correct me) how long does it take? Is it the standard 4 years as a double major? I’m planning on taking English and Psychology, if that helps 🙂 Sorry if this is a dumb question! I’m a very confused high school student

    ——————————————

    hey friendo,

    it’s all right to be confused, and this isn’t a dumb question at all! some students get to this school not even knowing program selection after first year is a thing. trust me, you’re ahead of the curve on this one, and it’s super great that you’re taking this into account now.

    u of t basically only offers honours degrees. what this means is that to graduate with a bachelor’s here, you need to undertake one of the following program combinations:

    • a specialist
    • two majors
    • a major and two minors

    what you ultimately decide on, among these three options, won’t affect how long it’ll take you to graduate. u of t has set this system up so that all three can be completed within 20.0 credits. each course you take for a semester counts as half a credit, so if you take five courses in fall and five in winter, that adds up to four school years. in fact, you can even add a minor to a double major and still finish in four years, if there’s enough overlap between those programs. keep in mind that there is a limit of three programs total, though.

    tl:dr a double major in english and psychology is fully doable in 4 years, if that’s how long you’re planning to take to complete your undergrad! an english major is a type 1 program, which basically means anyone can enrol in it– a psych major is a type 2L, which indicates that there’s a specific grade threshold you need to meet in order to be considered for enrolment. type 2L programs have a cap on how many students they can accept, so it would be best to aim for a grade higher than that threshold to make your chances of getting in better. in fact, the department recommends that you come up with a backup program, just in case admission doesn’t work out for you.

    since you’re looking at two different program types, you should be aware of two different program enrolment periods. typically, you can begin requesting programs at the end of winter semester– the dates vary a lil every year. i’m linking you here to last year’s program request periods, just so you have an idea of what they might look like. this year’s have yet to be posted, but i’m sure if you check again later on, they should be up by february at the latest.

    best of luck with your application! you know where to find me if you have any other questions.

    be Boundless,

    aska

  • admissions,  rotman

    if i pulled a hair out every time someone threw numbers at me i’d be bald

    Hey! I’m currently in grade 12 and I was just wondering how Rotman looks at grade 11 marks. I would say it wasn’t my best year, my average was around 86-87%. But currently my average is around 90-92%. I have done tons of different volunteering, co-op, and been part of numerous clubs. I’m just wondering whether I should worry about my average as of now.

    ——————————————

    hey friend,

    i never wanna tell people they should worry about their average. this rotman webpage indicates that if you’re from ontario, you’ll need an average in the mid to high eighties. you can decide for yourself what that means for you. in terms of your extracurriculars, u of t generally doesn’t look at those, but if they’re asked for in your supplemental application (which rotman requires) then maybe they’ll affect your admissions decision?

    what i’ve been told before is that how much weight is placed on your grade 11 marks depends on what your academic progress at that point looks like. i don’t really know how to explain this, but in some situations grade 11 marks are almost entirely irrelevant for your uni applications– say a student took a few classes in summer school, putting them a grade ahead in some of their core courses. by the time they got to the eleventh grade, they ended up taking the courses universities would normally consider for admission (english 12, chemistry 12, whatever). in this case, because the most important courses for their university admissions had final marks by the time they applied for universities midway through their senior year, those grade 12-level courses taken during the eleventh grade would be the most heavily considered. their eleventh grade marks would have almost no bearing on admissions.

    this is because, apparently, eleventh grade marks are used primarily as a predictor of a student’s final grade 12 marks, which aren’t available at the time of university applications. so these 11th grade marks may be looked at if your core 12th grade courses are still in progress, as admissions officers have no concrete final 12th grade marks to go on yet. they may be overlooked if you already have things like english 12 in your pocket. i’ve also heard that large discrepancies between grade 11 and grade 12 marks may be taken into account.

    it would be good to note that this is based on something i was told in conversation with an admissions officer a solid number of years ago, and for a different program. i have no way to verify if it’s actually true. but that’s the beauty of being an aska as opposed to a journalist: i can offer up these lil nuggets of hearsay, with full disclosure that i haven’t checked this over with anyone official, and you get to decide how seriously you take them. for better! more concrete! verified! and straight from the source! info you should contact rotman’s admissions office directly. in fact, please do. in this case, i’m not confident in the information i’ve given you and think you can get better tips from them.

    i hope this made sense. we speakin’ from a caffeine-induced haze out here. i hate to perpetuate the stereotype that u of t is disproportionately difficult when i say that– i think most major universities have these kinds of weeks, and either way it depends on your program and the way you work. but yea. we goin’ thru a thing right now, and it won’t be over for a good couple weeks. sorry it took me a while to get to your question, that would be why.

    be Boundless,

    aska

  • admissions

    #fax

    I’m in grade 12 in Ontario and getting ready to apply to A&S.  I’m still undecided between Life Sciences and Humanities but am heavily l eaning towards Life Sciences.  UTM and SC are not good options for me, so I’m stuck having to choose between LS or Humanities at SG. I will have all the prerequisites for LS, but a likely average around 85. I know that the “official” cut-off is low-mid 80’s, but then I read gazillions of comments online about people getting rejected with averages in the low-mid 90’s. Occasionally there’s someone saying “don’t worry, my buddy got in with an 84.” I’m considering applying to Humanities because my chances are better and I can still take all of the first year Life Sciences courses (I know that LS
    will have priority for picking sections), but deep down I really just want to enter as a LS student; FLCs really appeal to me. What are the facts vs fiction when it comes to admission averages for Life
    Sciences?

    ——————————————

    hey there,

    maybe i’m just over-caffeinated and heckin’ tired, but that felt like a hectic read. felt like the inside of my head circa twelfth grade. i, too, spent hours combing reddit for admissions averages and i can tell ya i got nearly nothing constructive out of it. big sigh.

    at the time, i felt the same way you did– i wanted answers, and couldn’t figure out why there was so much variation between peoples’ experiences. now that i’ve been at this school for a while (haha cry) and know a lil more about its ins and outs, well… you asked for a facts-vs-fiction kinda thing. i dunno if there are any hard and universal facts here, other than the domestic admissions averages posted here and the international ones posted here. there are so many factors at play in any one admissions case; with just the numbers and results it’s not easy to figure out what’s going on.

    in terms of why it seems like there is no standard admissions average story, and some people with 90s are getting rejected while some with mid-80s are getting in, these are two of the behind-the-scenes reasons i’m aware of:

    • their admissions average might overall have been high, but their english or calculus mark may have been less than ideal, which may have affected their chances of admission
      • this year, as long as you have calc at all, you’re good. unlike previous years, it’s not being weighted as heavily for admission and if it’s relatively low, won’t affect your admissions average
    • admissions are rolling, so someone who applies earlier might be more likely to get in than someone who applies on the very last day

    the main reason i don’t feel like i have any facts to give you, though, is because what kind of averages result in acceptances will vary from year to year. this is because the caliber of students varies per year, and admissions will adjust accordingly. if that makes sense. it sounds like such a cop-out answer, but that’s really what i’ve been told over and over again so it’s all i can relay. and i’m relatively certain that’s how it works, anyway.

    in terms of entering the life sciences as a humanities student, the only thing you should be aware of other than priority enrolment is having the appropriate high school prerequisites for the courses you’ll be taking. i’m assuming that if your intention is to go into lifesci anyways you’ll have those, though. as for deciding whether to apply to lifesci or humanities, i’d suggest you speak with an academic counselor at your school, if you have one available, and see what they think about your situation.

    i am so sorry for the long wait with this answer, and i hope it had some semblance of coherence. ya friend has been drowning in midterms and will not be able to take another breath until… finals season begins.

    i hope this was still helpful though and best of luck with your application!

    be Boundless,

    aska

     

  • admissions,  computer science

    u of t anagrammed is tofu just thought u should know

    Hi aska! I hope you’re doing well. I am currently a grade 12 student hoping to get admission into UoFT for either the engineering or comsci programs. I read online the supplementary application for the engineering program was 2 video’s and one written but it did not specify anything about the comsci supplelementary. I was wondering if you knew what that application process entailed and if there were any ways we could prepare for the supplementary (like some typical questions). Thank you!

    ——————————————

    welcome welcome to my small but spicy (lol i wish) internet domain!

    hope you’re doing well too, and that uni application season is being kind to you. or as kind as it really can be.

    unfortunately, nothing’s been officially released yet regarding the compsci supplementary. this website promises more info will be released in winter 2020, which sounds kinda late to me, but hey.

    sorry i can’t be of more help, but until the department itself releases details it’s kinda hard to get wind of those.i’ve heard that this compsci supplementary is a new thing, so info from past years isn’t all that available for me to reach back for and hand to you.

    i have heard some very ambiguous things about it, though. as in, i really know! nothing! but have reason to believe there should be information released soon. so sit tight.

    be Boundless,

    aska