• english,  first year,  newly admitted,  polisci,  programs

    double double (major) toil and trouble

    Hey aska!
    I’m going to uoft St. George for an English undergrad in the fall of 2018. I’m also interested in doing a double major in political science. I’m a bit confused about how to choose courses (how to take ones that interest me, fulfill my program requirements, and are also are prerequisites to upper-year courses)  and am worried about the workload if I do go for a double major. (I think I heard somewhere that it would take an extra year?) Also, I know I’m not outstanding in English and the main reason why I want to study it is because I want  to improve in it. Since my highschool graduation is drawing closer, I’m beginning to have doubts about whether or not I can succeed regardless of how much effort I put in because it’s a world class program and I’m only average at best. In your experience, was there a huge step-up from  highschool English to university English? Were can I find information on courses available to me?
    Thanks so much!



    at u of t, in order to complete your degree, you have to do a combination of programs of study (or, POSt). you have to complete either: a specialist, two majors, or a major and two minors. so, your desire to do a double major is actually pretty common at u of t. being worried about the workload is valid, you ARE moving from a high school workload to a university workload. however, like i said, doing a double major is extremely common at u of t, with some students even piling on a minor with their double majors! i don’t think you will have any issues doing a double major. however, if you do, that’s ok too. and it’s ok to consider taking a reduced course load (less classes per semester) and take longer to graduate in order to work at a speed that works for you.

    god, if i could, i would grab every incoming first year student by the shoulders, give ’em a good shake, and scream “YOU CAN TAKE MORE THAN FOUR YEARS!!! TAKE YOUR TIME!!!!”

    listen to me omg GIF

    but… i digress.

    now to address the question of course selection. most students take 5.0 FCE (full course equivalents) in a year. 5.0 credits is considered the standard for a full time student and it’ll allow you to graduate in 4 years (5.0 FCE times 4 years = 20 FCE needed to graduate). because first year is general and you can take anything you want, it’s a good idea to check out the required courses for your intended programs of study. so in your case, if you want to do an english and polisci double major, you’d want to see what the required courses are to get into those programs as well as what first year courses are offered in those programs.

    for english, there aren’t any prereqs to get into the major. however, you should probably take a first year english course anyways as most second year courses and other upper year courses require the completion of a first year course. check out this link for all the first year english courses that would count towards an english POSt.

    for polisci, you need to have achieved at least a 67% in POL101Y or POL200Y or one POL FCE or equivalent in half courses. so it would probably be a good idea to take one of those courses in your first year so that you can get into a polisci major after first year.

    you 100% should get in contact with your college registrar’s office and set up an academic advising session. they will be able to go more in-depth with you and discuss all your options. you can also get in contact with the program advisers of english and polisci respectively. check out this link for their contact info.

    as for whether or not you can succeed “regardless of how much effort [you] put in”… well, like i said earlier, the transition between high school and university can be difficult, but it isn’t impossible. if you find yourself struggling academically, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with the academic adviser at your registrar’s office, or to contact your prof/ TA, who are also great resources and can really help you if you’re struggling in a course. you should also look into the academic success centre, where you can make appointments a learning strategist who can help you learn more about how you learn.

    another great resource at u of t, especially for kids in programs like english and polisci, are the writing centres. you can book an appointment and bring your assignments to them before the deadline, and the people who work at the writing centre can go through the assignment with you and provide insight on how you can write a better assignment. they’re awesome. they’ve saved many a paper of mine.

    joe jonas relief GIF

    ok, phew! that was a LOT of information. i really hope this helps. if you have more questions, please get in contact with the people i’ve linked above (especially your registrar’s office, they’re super helpful and a great first contact point for anything academic).

    good luck, see you on campus in september!



  • CR/NCR,  polisci,  UTM

    escape (CR/NCR) from POL114

    hi there! im a first year student at UTM and POL114 is really kicking my butt… i want to CR/NCR it but i also may want to minor in polisci in the future! by the end of the school year, i would have completed the 1 credit requirement for polisci without POL114 ( took POL111 and POL112). so… is it okay to CR/NCR a polisci course if i will complete the required 1 credit anyways?
    so, according to the poli sci department’s website, the only requirement for a polisci minor is 4.0FCE in POL courses, including 1.0 300-level course and 1.0 100-level course. that means, if you have POL111 and POL112, that you can safely CR/NCR POL114 and still enroll in the polisci minor. however, since it is still relatively early in the term, you could wait until you get a few marks (like, after the midterm or first assignment) to really make your decision. you might actually be doing way better than you originally thought! the deadline to cr/ncr a course is march 14th.
    i would also be mindful of the other polisci programs. right now, you want to do the minor, but if you should ever want to switch to a major, you would need POL200, POL214, and a whole host of other requirements. though POL114 isn’t one of the courses that are covered in the “fields” for the major, it could count towards the “3.0 additional POL courses”. so, just keep that in mind.
    other than that, i would also suggest talking to the registrar at UTM who would have the most information and would be able to give you the best advice. perhaps even better advice than i (gasp! i know!).
    overall, as long as you keep what i said in mind, as well as the prereqs for future POL courses (courses that you would want to take), you can totally escape POL114. that’s what CR/NCR is right? escaping?
    awkward the daily show GIF by The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
  • campus,  clubs,  extracurricular,  international relations,  polisci,  residence,  St. George,  student groups,  Toronto,  UTSU

    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?





  • admissions,  applying for U of T,  averages,  english,  polisci,  St. George

    ENG 4UofT

    hi! regarding the political science question, is there a specific grade needed in ENG 4U that is needed? i read that for st george, you needed low 80s in ENG 4U. I meet the general admissions marks but my English grade is quite a bit lower than my other 5 subjects.


    hey there,

    like i said in the previous post you’re referring to, at st. george, polisci falls under the social science category, so according to the requirements for ontario high school students, you’ll need an overall average (taken from ENG 4U and your next 5 best U/M courses) that’s in the low to mid 80’s. however, it does also state that you should have at least mid to low 70’s as your ENG 4U grade.

    in terms of a specific grade needed, the best we can do is provide you with this “mid to low 70’s range”. my understanding is that it would be hard for the university to provide specific grades since not all students are admitted solely based on their academic performance.

    hope this answers your question!

    peace and love,



  • admissions,  applying for U of T,  averages,  polisci,  social sciences,  St. George,  subject POST,  UTM,  UTSC

    a polisci question on election day

    Hi, what are the approximate averages needed for ontario students to get into BA political science at St George, Mississauga and Scarborough? Thanks


    hello there,

    first, let’s break this down. at U of T, political science falls under the category of social sciences. if you want to pursue political science, you might consider applying to the social sciences stream after high school.

    once you are accepted, you’ll first have to complete a total of 4.0 FCE’s (full course equivalents, or credits) until you can be accepted into a political science program, be it a major or a minor. 4.o FCE’s just means that you’ll only be able to apply after first year. keep in mind, you don’t necessarily need to get into your program after first year, you can enter in second year and on!

    in terms of admission into the social sciences stream at each campus, you’ll see here that they recommend the following averages: low to mid 80’s for U of T St. George, mid 70’s for UTSC, and mid to high 70’s for UTM.

    before you choose your first year courses, definitely refer to the calendar and look at what courses you’ll have to take and what grades you’ll need to get to be accepted into the polisci program. since i am the nicest stranger you’ll never meet, i’ve linked you to the political science calendar of each campus: UTSG, UTM, and UTSC so you can see what you’ll need. you’re very welcome.


    i hope you get into polisci and do some good in the world. don’t forget to thank aska when you receive a nobel prize. happy (or unhappy) election day!



  • hard,  polisci

    how many politicians per campus have we produced

    is it easier to get good marks for political science at uoft mississauga or uoft scarborough compared to uoft st geroge? thanks!


    hey there,

    i have a documented dislike of these kinds of questions, because i feel like there’s no sufficient way to answer them. who’s to say what would be easier or harder for you? i don’t know you. i don’t know YOUR STORY. and there’s no acknowledged hierarchy that i can refer to in order to, like, rank them.

    i won’t play dumb. i know that the downtown campus has a reputation as a more academically rigorous campus than the other two. i don’t know if it’s the professors or the workload or just the fact that st. george is so much bigger – and therefore seems more intimidating – than the other campuses, but it does have that reputation.

    that being said, i don’t have any actual numbers or facts to back up this bad (or good? depending on how you look at it) rap that st. george has as a ‘hard’ school. i have no way of comparing grades across the three campuses, or anything like that. in addition, i’ve only ever been a student downtown. my own experience was that i never found it that difficult. challenging, for sure, but survivable. one of my POSts was poli sci at the downtown campus, and i didn’t ONCE cry over my notes in a library. yeah, that’s what you call a winner.

    that being said: no two people have the same university experience, and you shouldn’t base a decision like this on what some anonymous blog is telling you.

    if i were trying to decide between the three campuses, i wouldn’t make the decision based on something as ephemeral and quantitatively groundless as “easiness.” instead, i would consider things like: what courses you need to take for each campus’ program, which campus is closer to where you’ll be living, which campus you like best, and whether any of the campuses offer special programs.

    for example, UTM offers combined specialists in economics and political science and history and political science, and UTSC offers a co-op program in public policy that may interest you. meanwhile, UTSG has a stellar faculty. UTM and UTSG both require 10.0 FCEs for their specialist, while UTSC requires 12.0 FCEs. small differences like this can be what you base your decision on.

    i know i didn’t actually answer your question, but unfortunately, there was no way to do that without a lot of wild guesses, and askastudent is about the HARD FACTS, son.

    have a groovy Monday ~


  • polisci

    look, ma, i’m in the papers!

    I want to get one of my papers (political science) published – can you help me figure out the process and where/who do I send it in to?


    hey there,

    good for you! i’m glad that you have enough smart things to say that you are considering publishing them. i barely have enough interesting thoughts to rub two sentences together. (and yes, i realize that i say that as someone who writes stuff on this website on a regular basis, but hey, i fully realize how obnoxious i am, and that’s gotta count for something.)

    anyway. you can get your paper published anywhere, really. depends on how high you want to aim. you want to submit to the Globe & Mail? go right ahead.

    however, an academic paper might be better suited to a smaller forum. for example, you may want to start out with a campus journal, like Polis, the undergraduate journal of Political Science. the IR journal is another possibility, and Mindful, the Ethics, Society & Law journal, is another.

    just keep an eye on the pages i linked for application deadlines, submit according to their guidelines, and wait to hear for a response!



  • law,  polisci,  subject POST

    i can polish off one specialist a year. just watch me.

    Hi! I am going through a rough time with picking subjects posts. I really like Peace, Justice and Conflict, Criminology. Ethics, Society and Law and Political Science. I want to study all of them, but I know that is not realistic. Is there a way I could combine these majors. Which one is higher in ranking or better for maybe pursuing law school/graduate school. Thanks a lot and Happy Canada Day!!


    hey there,

    i’ma get the easy question out of the way first: there is NO PROGRAM out there that is going to “prepare” you for law school.

    pretty much every law school across the continent prides itself on accepting students from all academic backgrounds. yes, the “rigour” of a certain program can sometimes give your application an edge, but the best thing you can do is go for a program (or programs) which give you the best chance of doing well.

    bthe difference between criminology or political science is not going to make or break a law school application.

    as for graduate school: it depends on the graduate program. if you’re thinking about political science, then a poli sci undergrad would be the best idea. if you want a master’s in crim., then you should probably go for – you guessed it – criminology major.

    think seriously about what kinds of graduate programs you might like to pursue, and then you can figure out which programs would best prepare you.

    k, now about your POSts:

    you’re right, there’s probably not a way to study all those POSts, because you can only have a maximum of three POSts active at any time. HOWEVER, you can do three out of four. ethics, society & law, peace, conflict and justice and criminology are all only offered as majors or specialists. so, if you wanted to, you could do a double major in two of those and a minor in political science.

    as for which POSt you should drop – i would go through the program requirements for each program and highlight which courses you feel most excited about.

    make a hypothetical plan for your whole degree and figure out which combination of POSts will allow you to take the maximum number of those courses. (not that you will or have to stick to this plan for your whole four years, but it’s a good way to make decisions based on concrete FACTS).

    at the end of the day, they’re all pretty similar programs, so there will be overlap between required courses. singling out the unique courses – like ethics or criminology courses – that you might be especially excited about is a great way to figure out which POSts to prioritize.

    good luck with it,


  • career choice,  jobs,  polisci

    a USELESS degree? in MY faculty? it’s more likely than you think

    Dear aska, I recently saw a post where a student stated that his/her degree in poli sci was “useless” and they were looking for alternatives. Being a 2nd year Political Science student at U of T myself, I was wondering if I could get Aska’s opinion on this; being the knowledgeable person that you are. Why do you think such a stereotype exists? And what are the employment prospects for students holding a degree similar to mine?


    hey there,

    knowledgeable??? nah, you must have me confused with someone else. they only hired me because i could juggle three watermelons while singing ‘the maple leaf forever.’

    fact of the matter is this: no matter how much the department insists on calling itself ‘political SCIENCE,’ it’s about as much a “science” program as art history or celtic studies are.

    poli sci. is a humanities program through and through, and as such, it does not give graduates a suit and a job along with their degree. as a poli. sci. student, you are not being trained for any specific job – except, maybe, the job of a political science professor.

    you’re getting a liberal arts education, which means that you have to be CRAFTY about how you present yourself to employers. some people may say that because of that, your degree being ‘useless,’ but i would disagree. all it means is that you have to be a little more involved in your job search.

    why does the ‘useless’ stereotype exist? because of a utilitarian outlook on education driven by capitalism and neo-liberals whose vision is so obscured by the free market that they can’t fathom the idea that there might be something worthwhile in learning for itself. also because of mike harris, probably. BUT i digress.

    i would argue that just because your degree doesn’t fashion you into a pre-made corporate automaton, doesn’t mean it’s useless – even in a utilitarian sense.

    political science degrees are great preparation for law school, graduate studies in political science, all kinds of political journalism, public relations or communications work, public policy work, and lots of obscure government jobs.

    that said, the degree alone usually isn’t enough to get you a job right out of your undergrad. try to get some experience, if you can, in some of the areas you’re interested in, either by volunteering or interning or working.

    for more information, i’d recommend you look at this incredibly detailed profile from the career centre at utm. this is another useful starting-off point.



  • polisci,  Transferring

    i don’t link stuff just for the heck of it y’know

    Hey there! I’m a 2nd year student currently registered at UTSC studying Political Science. I’m seeking some help regarding internal transfer to UTSG. I’ve been looking all over the U of T website, but couldn’t find the minimum CGPA/ annual GPA requirements for Political Science. I’ve seen your previous posts and you mentioned a solid B average should suffice to apply for a transfer; but I don’t see that written anywhere on any of the websites. Looking forward to your reply! Thank you!


    hey there,

    that may have something to do with the fact that you didn’t click on the link. the stuff i link to isn’t just funny gifs of people falling down (though they’re important, too).

    if i cite something like a mark cutoff for a faculty, campus or program, i WILL link to the page that provides that information. so when stuff is linked, please, CLICK ON IT. and if i forgot to link it somewhere, then TELL ME, and i will fix it. because not citing stuff is just not cool, man.

    anyway. the solid B refers to what is needed to transfer to UTSG generally (see that? now click on that link). political science has its own set of requirements (click on that link, too) (don’t click on this one).

    so if you want to transfer into poli sci. at the downtown campus, you have to pass two hurdles: one, you need to actually get into the university. that’s going to require a “solid ‘B’ average.” then, you’ll need to get into poli sci. the poli sci specialist, major and minor are all type 2’s, which mean that they require that you’ve completed certain courses and achieved certain marks in those courses to get in.

    if you were a UTSG student applying to a UTSG poli sci subject POSt, and you had all the required marks in all the required courses, they would not be able to turn you down, because it’s a type 2 POSt.

    however, since you’re transferring, you do have to have at least a B average overall to be competitive, like it says on the transfer page. and then you have to have those poli sci requirements on top of that.

    note that because you’re applying after second year, you’ll need to meet the requirement listed for ‘applying after second year’ on the course calendar for poli sci: that is, any 2.0 POL FCE’s with at least a 70% in each.

    best, and i hope to see you on campus sometime soon!


    P.S. sorry for leaving this response so late. i usually have answers up within two weeks of when they’re sent, but aska was BROUGHT LOW by an EVIL and INFECTIOUS DISEASE which left me snotty and gross for a good three days. i hope you can forgive me.

  • polisci,  sociology,  subject POST

    POSt rants: the SEQUEL

    need advice- don’t know if i should do a major in sociology or political science? i’m going into second year….what if i want to switch after if i don’t like the one i choose? will it add time to my program?


    hey there,

    well, political science and sociology are both type 2 subject POSts, so if you haven’t applied to get into them yet, you’ll have to wait until the second request period to apply. which puts you in the same situation as this person. just a head’s up.

    you do have the opportunity to change subject POSts after second year – to a certain extent. if it’s a type 1 POSt, you can enrol at any time. additionally, quite a few type 2 subject POSts (including politics, by the way) will allow you to apply after second year. uoft’s good that way.

    whether you’ll have to do a few extra courses in the summer, or even during an extra term, to fulfil the requirements for whichever POSt you finally choose, really depends on which one it is. what i would do is sketch out a plan of all your undergrad years (including all the courses you’d want to take) for every possible combination of subject POSts you’re considering. then you can figure out which ones are doable, and how long it would take to do them. alternatively, you can make an appointment with your college registrar and do more or less exactly that together.

    regardless of how adamant you are about taking sociology or poli sci, both of them are type 2 POSts, which means you’re not guaranteed enrolment yet. so, if i were you, i’d make sure i was enrolled in two type 1 majors already, just so that you have programs to fall back on if either poli. sci. or soc. don’t work out.

    finally: which one should you pick? geez, man, i don’t know. i don’t know what you like, or what you’re good at. do you have another major your heart is set on? because otherwise, you could just double-major in soc and poli sci. if it’s just a matter of not knowing what you really want, yesterday i wrote a HUGE block of text advising someone on how to pick subject POSts, so i’d recommend you read that if you’re really feeling torn.

    i know there are so many POSts it can sometimes make your head spin, but don’t worry, you’ll figure it out.



  • med school,  polisci

    a crisis of academic faith a.k.a. all of our lives.

    Hello! Let’s say that you get accepted into social sciences (in first year), for political sciences. And, you know you want to go to medical school in the future, but would really like to study politics as well. As we know, medical school accepts students from all disciplines of studies. Though, for UofT’s medical school requirements you need at least 2 FCE of life sciences. How does that work? You study political sciences but take science courses at the same time? But I don’t have Highschool 12U chem or physics!!!!! Can I take night school or summer school during my UNIVERSITY YEARS to fulfil any of these requirements??Can I still pursue my dream of becoming a doctor? Thanks in Advance!


    hey there,

    ok, i don’t want to be presumptuous here. i know there are many brilliant young people who have multiple interests and can juggle them all equally. i know this because i used to be one of them. i was in the sciences, i was in the arts, i was in languages; i could do everything. however, university has this great effect on people where it both broadens your perspective and forces you to focus in on the things that really matter to you. it happened to me and it will probably happen to you, unless you’re hard on yourself now and force yourself to make a decision, which is what i would recommend.

    what i’m saying is: it would be in your best interest to ask yourself honestly, now, whether you truly want to pursue medicine or political science. both fields are academically rigorous and you kind of have to be fully dedicated in order to be successful in them.

    you can easily get 2 FCE of life science in university if you’re enrolled in political science, by doing a poli sci major and two life science minors. that would give you more than 2.0 FCE and fulfil those requirements for med school. however, you’ll be competing for entrance into med school and on the MCATs with people whose entire program has been focused around life science, and that’s tough.

    also, most life science courses in first year either require or recommend grade 12 chemistry?or grade 12 calculus. PUMP can be used to fulfil that calculus requirement, but unfortunately there’s no equivalent program for chemistry. doing night/summer school while in university won’t fulfil the requirement because you need to have completed grade 12 chem/physics before you actually take the university courses. there are some biology courses that don’t require any grade 12 chemistry, so you can look into those to get some of your life science credits, but most courses will require the grade 12 background in chem.

    all in all, yeah, if you’re really dedicated, it probably can be done, but i wouldn’t advise it. chemistry and physics are just as important for those studying medicine as bio, and if you want to study poli sci now but want to become a doctor in the future, that’s telling me that your real passion lies with politics. obviously, you should do what you want with your life, but just don’t compromise your real passion for something that feels safe, because lemme tell you, med school is hella expensive, and you’d better be sure that’s what you want to do before spending all that money.