• extracurricular,  grad school,  med school,  medicine

    i’ve never been happier

    Hello! I’m a soon-to-be 4th year student interested in applying for grad school (health/medicine-related). The program does not require any job shadowing experiences but I think it would look good on my application. After a google search, I found a U of T alumni who coincidentally graduated from the grad program i’m interested in and also works in my town. It seems like she is self-employed so there is no info on shadowing or volunteering like there is on hospital websites.

    How do I go about asking if I can job shadow or volunteer? I was thinking of sending an email but I’m not sure what I would write. My grades aren’t that impressive so I’m counting on my extracurriculars to get me into grad school (I probably shouldn’t mention that in my email though) and I think this would be a great opportunity.


    hello friend,

    you should just go for it! an email seems like a good choice– less forward than a phone call, and less terrifying on top of that. while i’ve never been in your specific situation, i did some research on job shadowing for you and think i can help piece together an email.

    from what i know, job shadowing is typically a shorter-term thing (we’re talking like 1-3 days) whereas volunteering might offer you slightly longer-term experience. i’m thinking volunteering might be of more use to you if you’re trying to gain significant experience for an application, but job shadowing isn’t a bad idea if you’ve just got a few questions you want answered and want a quick window into her career. obviously, her availability and willingness to offer one or the other to you will affect your options, but it’s probably important to be clear on what you’re asking of her up front. just cause, yknow, there is a difference.

    these are my thoughts on what the flow of your email could look like:

    hello —–,

    1. introduction
    2. how you found out about her
    3. why you want what you want
    4. what you want
    5. when you want it
    6. some kinda failsafe clause
    7. attach your resume

    so it’d probably end up looking something  like this:

    my name is —— and i’m a soon-to-be fourth year at u of t. i’m currently in the —- program, but i have a serious interest in pursuing —– in the near future. from what i understand/found on your website (or whatever), you graduated from this program yourself.

    [this is the part where you enthusiastically express interest in the field, the program, what this person does, etc. according to a ted talk i watched in like, the tenth grade, apple sells so much stuff by leading with their ‘why’. that’s the advice we’re following here. i dunno what your why is, though. that’s on you, buddy.]

    if possible, i would love the chance to shadow you/volunteer with you for (whatever period of time). i understand you may be extremely busy and unable to accommodate me. if that’s the case, could you please forward my request to a colleague who might be able to help me out?

    my resume is attached for your reference; i look forward to hearing from you soon. if you would prefer to speak on the phone, here is the number i can be reached at: (your phone number here!)

    thank you for your time,

    end email

    anyway, the tone of this question is a good indicator you can write a solid email! gotta love those full sentences and that good grammar.

    on top of that, it’ll probably help that she’s a u of t alumni who went through the exact program you’re gunning for. best of luck with this opportunity and i hope my answer helped!

    be Boundless,


  • career choice,  extracurricular,  rotman

    idk, join a club or something?

    Not sure if this is relevant: But what do employers want from UofT students who are applying for jobs (barring good academics)? Employers say they want “leadership, communication etc” but what are actual things you should do to get their attention? I’m going into the accounting stream and everyones like “get in involved!” But how??? and in what??



    so like… i’ve been holding off on this question because i really don’t know what employers want… i’m just a dumb student floating about and answering very, very niche questions about transferring, or whatever.

    i think that by “get involved” people are saying that you should join clubs or extracurricular that will help boost your resume/ linkedin profile. that being said, i also think that it’s really important to pursue things that you’re passionate about. personally, while i am making moves towards a career i want post-grad, i don’t think that i would survive at u of t without participating in extracurriculars that i care about. my suggestion to you is to participate in a few extracurriculars, volunteer, and/or join a club. my personal rule is to take on no more than two extracurricular activities per semester, and i always try to pick one that interests me personally and one that may help me to further my career or look great on my resume. of course, that’s just my own personal preference and you can do as many or as little as you want.

    check out Ulife. they’ve got all the official u of t recognized student groups and clubs, a list of opportunities that you can peruse, and a list of upcoming events that you can participate in.

    since you are a part of rotman (at least, i’m assuming from your question), you can also check out this link for a list of rotman commerce student organizations.

    hopefully between those two links, you’ll be able to find something to pique your interest. if not, poke around and ask your friends what they’re doing in their spare time. i’m sure someone you know is a part of a student group you may wanna join.

    hope this helps! get out there and “””get involved””””.

    sassy point GIF by BBC



  • 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,  colleges,  extracurricular,  first year,  international relations,  peace and conflict

    Yet Another Anxious High School Kid TM

    Hey Aska,

    Firstly, thank you so much for this site! I’ve been checking it every few days since i found out about it, and thanks to you I’m slightly less likely to have a full on panic attack when i apply to uni.

    I’m starting grade 12 in an Ontario high school in the fall, and i want to apply for social sciences at uoft, probably for either International Relations or Peace, Conflict and Justice. My grades aren’t /amazing/, but I’ll probably have an average in the mid to high eighties when I have to send them in, so…ok?

    I do a lot of extracurricular stuff- I’m the president of a social-justice-y club, the editor of the school newspaper and I will have
    been a “senior mentor” for two years, and I know I can get recommendation letters from each of these. (sorry if this sounds like the pretentious part of a resume, I can’t help it) Even if these positions would be irrelevant with regards to admissions, would they (or recommendation letters) help me with anything else, like getting into the college of my choice, school clubs or scholarships?

    Also, do you think International Relations or Peace, Conflict and Justice would be more relevant to a career in human rights?

    Thank you so much!


    hey there,

    i’m glad my sass and bad humour calm you down, kid. i mean, it’s kinda weird, but i’ll roll with it. what’s your deal? are you a sucker for pain? if so, uoft will be the perfect choice for you. it’s a match made in a 9am calculus class!

    while i appreciate the vagueness of your question about admissions and the probably unintentional john green reference, i still can’t give you a straight answer. i’m not about to risk going against a decision made by admissions. all i can do is point you to this chart right here; feel free to compare and contrast, and draw your own conclusions.

    as for your extracurricular experience, you’re exactly right. it will all mean diddly-squat in terms of admission to the university, but it will come in handy for scholarship applications, the experience may be valuable when it comes to joining clubs in university, and it can – potentially – be useful for college applications.

    not all colleges in the faculty of arts & science require supplemental applications. in fact, most don’t. the only colleges that actually require an application are victoria college and trinity college, because they’re kooky like that. if you’re interested in either of those colleges however, their student profile application forms will be your chance to shine.

    finally, your program question: IR and PCJ are two peas in a pod. you can’t go wrong with either of them. i wouldn’t worry so much about which one will be more relevant (especially since ‘human rights’ isn’t that specific a goal in itself). a better way to narrow them down is to look at the practical implications of each choice.

    for example, you’ll need to determine is whether you’re after the specialists or majors in IR/PCJ. the difference between a specialist and a major is that a specialist asks that you complete more credits (13.0 for IR and 12.0 for PCJ), and therefore, one specialist is enough for you to obtain your degree. majors require fewer credits (both IR and PCJ require 7.5 FCEs for their majors), and therefore if you’re in an IR or PCJ major, you’ll have to supplement it with either one other major, or two other minors.

    content-wise, all four options (the IR specialist, PCJ specialist, IR major, and PCJ major) are pretty similar, but there are subtle differences in terms of which courses you would need to take for each. study each program on the course calendar to get a feel for which would be the best fit for you.

    if you really can’t decide, consider a double major in PCJ and IR. they complement each other wonderfully.

    my final piece of advice is this: keep your options open. all of these programs are type 3 programs, which means that even if you meet all the prerequisites in first year, you still may not get into the program, since there are limited spots for enrolment. what i’m saying is: backups are non-optional, and be ready for plan B to become plan A.

    but don’t worry about ANY OF THAT right now, because you still have a year left of high school and subject POSt enrolment is at least two years away. a lot can happen in two years, so take it easy. enjoy your summer break. play pokemon go. try to be a kid again.

    you can start by closing this tab and looking at prom outfits in the next one.



    P.S. thanks for providing the perfect title for this post in your e-mail subject line. i love the self-deprecation. keep it up and you might even be as great as aska, one day.

  • alcohol,  extracurricular,  friends

    you’ve got a friend in me

    Hi there,

    I am going to be coming to Toronto uni as an exchange student from London and I am extremely worried about making friends. This is because I am coming as a second year student and in the second semester, so I’m worried that everyone in my class will have already made their friends and not want any more…

    I will also likely not get residence as I am not guaranteed it as an exchange student and as Toronto is such a big uni I’m afraid it’ll be rather impersonal.

    The possibility of me not being able to make friends and have a social life is making me think again about whether I want to go, because although its a great opportunity I don’t want to be miserable while I’m there!

    I want to join clubs but will it be too late by the time its second semester? Also do you have any advice on what the drinking culture is like in Toronto?

    Any advice would be fantastic [?]


    hey there,

    i’m gonna start from the bottom up in this post.

    incidentally, “bottoms up!” is something you’ll hear a lot in London (haha great segue, aska); not so much in Toronto.

    i would say that the drinking culture is definitely not as strongly ingrained in Toronto as it is in London. there tends to be more of a clubbing culture, as well as a “hanging out” culture. the closest thing you’ll find to the pub/lad culture of London is the first-year residence hall, but again, you likely won’t be living there.

    that said, people do still go out. we are in our twenties, after all. it’s not quite the same, though, and that might be a bit of an adjustment for you. i’m sure it’ll be an interesting story you can regale your U.K. friends with, though.

    it ABSOLUTELY will NOT be too late to join clubs in the winter term. a lot of clubs accept members throughout the year, and many will get a wave of new members in the second semester. they may have a new season/repertoire/project/goal, which will make the transition more seamless.

    some clubs only get started later on in the year. some clubs completely start over each new term. as long as you search for clubs that are interesting, you will find something (and maybe even a few somethings)!

    not all classes are yearlong classes, which means that there will be brand new people in brand new classes in the winter term. these are an especially great opportunity to connect with people.

    finally, whatever college you’re with (it’ll likely be woodsworth, since exchange students are usually automatically assigned to woodsworth) will have its own social circles, hangout spaces and social events. hang out in those spaces, go to those events, and you’ll be sure to meet lots of people!

    those are about all the tips i have. i hope you don’t pass up on this opportunity. uoft is a really unique community full of friendly people, and you’re bound to have a wonderful time!



  • extracurricular


    Hey aska, how do I get involved with the sports community at U of T (St. George Campus)? more specifically, what’s the process involved to if you want to try out for one of the Varsity Blues sports teams? Thanks in advance


    hey there,

    i find it oddly charming that you’re asking me about sports so earnestly. i can’t even dribble a ball. just looking at a hurdle makes my thighs ache. but although i know next to nothing about playing sports, i do know how to google a thing or two, so here we go!

    sports! sign

    aska is both passionate about and dedicated to the watching of sports(!)

    most open tryouts for the 2015-16 season take place near the beginning of the academic year (the earliest tryouts, for male baseball, are in mid-august). keep an eye out here to find out when tryouts are for your athletic competition of choice.

    just make sure you register by the deadline (they’ll be listed on the tryouts page as the summer progresses) and complete your eligibility and medical forms (not yet available on the tryouts page – but soon) before showing up to try out.

    you’ll also want to know if you’re eligible to play football or calvinball or sportball or whatever it is you want to play. you can check that here.

    and that’s pretty much it! then all you gotta do is show up, get the quaffle in the hoop, knock the baseball out of the court with your bat, and you’re in!

    good luck,


    P.S.: some other ways to get involved with athletics at uoft include: intramural sports, registered classes at hart house, and working out at the gyms at goldring, hart house and the athletic centre. also, running from one end of campus to another when you only have ten minutes between classes. that one’s my favourite. ha ha.

  • extracurricular

    you can only communicate with clubs via ouija board

    Where do you go to sign up for clubs?


    hey there,

    there’s no one place to go. as with so many things at uoft, clubs are decentralized and all operate differently, according to their own whimsical rules.

    the most concentrated and unified place and time to sign up for clubs is clubs day during orientation week. this year, that takes place on september 9th, from 10am-2pm. over 300 UTSU-recognized clubs will be present at this year’s clubs day, so it’s worth a visit.

    but if you miss that, DON’T PANIC. it’s not the end of the world. you can still sign up for lots and lots of clubs at a later time/date. feel free to browse all uoft organizations here. most of them will have their own sign-up process, so all you have to do is find a few you’re interested and inquire within, as they say.



  • extracurricular,  french

    oui oui

    Hello ! I’m going into second year at UTSG next year, and I was considering getting a citation in French in my degree (or maybe a French as Second Language minor?), but it might make arranging my other courses a bit difficult. I don’t want to lose all the French I learned through high school if I decide not to take it, so I was wondering if you know of any services in UofT that provide french language practice? Thanks a lot! 🙂


    hey there,

    that’s a very admirable goal! i personally plan on keeping up my french by just rewatching le petit prince over and over when it comes out and crying over the nostalgia.

    BUT that might be a bit emotionally draining for some people, so why don’t we explore some other options. y’know. for the weak-willed out there.

    1. the French Association puts on events monthly to “create strong ties between Anglophones and Francophones by providing an inclusive and convivial space where cultural and linguistic exchanges happen!” so that might be a cool thing to be a part of.

    2. if you’d like a more intensive way of keeping up with your french, the french department organizes a “weekly conversation group” at the Kelly Cafe and in New College, which is a great way of keeping up your french speaking.

    3. the french as a second language minor is also a great idea! you only need 4.0 credits to complete it, so it shouldn’t be too hard to fit into your degree.

    bonne chance avec votre enterprise linguistique!


  • extracurricular

    cross-campus activity


    I am wondering if it is against the University’s rules to be a student at one campus but be president of a student organization on a different campus. Is there any policy against this? Just wondering.



    hey there,

    i’m gonna say…no. some clubs do specify who exactly can be a member (students at a certain college, in a certain faculty, or at a certain campus, for example), but often i feel like it’s just implied who the group is for.

    so if the organization you have your eye on has no specific rules about membership, i guess it’s not an issue. however, i would advise that you take a look at your campus and see if there are any similar groups there that you could join instead.

    if you want to be be involved with leadership on your campus (and possibly be nominated for some leadership awards down the line), it’ll be a lot easier if all your activities are local to where you’re a student (speaking from experience here).

    all the best with your presidential duties,


  • extracurricular

    writing sux

    do you need to have any experience to get involved with one of the school’s newspapers or blogs? i don’t have any specific experience for that but in my free time i love reading and writing and so im thinking the newspaper or the school blog would be a good way to get involved!


    hey there,

    i think it kinda depends on the newspaper/blog! blogUT, for example, just requires that you send a little e-mail application – no previous writing experience required.

    for the varsity, you can basically just drop into their office/send them an e-mail and let them know you want to start writing for them.

    as for college newspapers, look on their website (if they have one) to see if they have any application procedures. otherwise, just shoot them an e-mail and go from there. at the end of the day, all these publications are run by students, so they tend to be pretty lowkey in terms of how to get involved.

    finally, here is a list of a bunch of different publications at uoft, if you’d like to start browsing opportunities (because i’m nice like that. and i have far too much time to spend linking stuff):

    student newspapers on campus

    1. The Varsity

    2. the newspaper

    3. UofT Magazine

    4. The Innis Herald

    5. The Mike

    5. The Gargoyle

    6. The Strand

    7. The Howl

    student blogs on campus

    1. blogUT

    2. ~~~ ASKASTUDENT WHOO!!!!! ~~~

    3. student life blogs (these blogs have a more concrete application process, which you can read about here)

    college-specific student literary reviews on campus

    1. The Innis Review

    3. acta victoriana

    4. The Grammateion

    5. The Trinity Literary Review

    6. The UC review

    academic student literary reviews on campus

    1. The Idiom (English department’s undergraduate academic journal)

    2. Anthropology Undergraduate Journal

    3. ImagiNATIONS (Canadian Studies undergraduate academic journal)

    4. Saeculum (Christianity & Culture undergraduate academic journal)

    5. Undergraduate Journal of Political Science

    6. The Foolscap (Book and Media Studies academic journal)

    …and the list goes on. hopefully this will give you a chance to start looking, and see what you like!

    happy writing,


  • extracurricular

    promo 4 promo


    I was wondering if you could help me with a problem I’ve been having. I’m a current McGill student trying to expand a club I’m a part of to have a UofT presence. I’ve exhausted my options going through friends, and am trying to get the word out to start recruiting and opening a UofT branch. I’m not a
    UofT student so I don’t have access to some things you might- Other than posting on specific facebook pages, is there any way to get the word out to
    the student body effectively?



    hey there,

    good for you for trying to spread your club! i mean, *i* spread joy and obnoxious singing everywhere i go, but i guess your thing is cool too.

    i would contact the organizations who have promotional power at uoft. that might be student life, ASSU, or any number of uoft organizations who do a similar thing to what you do. i would do a little search around (especially through that last link i gave) and just see who’s most relevant to your club.

    if you can partner with whoever that might be, then you can get a foothold here. then they can post posters, promote you on facebook groups within the umbrella UofT facebook group, tweet about you, or even help get a satellite club started here.

    also, it may be a good idea t offer to promo them on your campus, so they’ll be more willing to help you out. just work that MySpace-esque picture comment for picture comment etiquette, and you’ll go far.

    hope that helps!


    P.S. i can’t believe people all the way at McGill read my posts! step one: interprovincial. step two: INTERNATIONAL SUPERSTAR.

  • extracurricular

    sign me up for the next war!

    I missed the club fair this week at UTSG and I was wondering where I can go or what I can do to sign up! :))


    hey there,

    missing the clubs fair is no big deal. it’s a really helpful and awesome resource for discovering new clubs (while also having a nice lil walk), BUT now that we’re all cyborgs and we’ve sold our souls to the internet, most clubs are active and very easily findable online.

    if you know you want to get involved but you’re not sure where to do it, ULife’s list of all campus groups is ground 0. it lists pretty much every organization at uoft alphabetically, and scrolling through just one letter on there is likely to give you acoupla leads.

    hart house is another cool hub of extra-curricular activity at the school. they’ve got everything going on, from musical groups to athletic facilities to a class on how not to be self-conscious (seriously). i honestly can’t praise hart house enough. it’s like a rec centre, but more beautiful, cheaper, and with more diverse classes. stay awesome, hart house.

    you can also look into getting involved with some student societies on campus, with your own college’s student union, or with the student union associated with a program you may be interested in applying to after first year (assuming you’re a first year student), like the Association of Political Science Students, for example.

    finally, searching through askastudent’s extracurricular tag is also a great way to find new opportunities (not our clubs tag; that’s something different).

    once you’ve found some things you might be interested in, just track down some contact information for that group and ask how you can sign up. usually, it’s as simple as just coming to the first meeting.

    none of the clubs want you to know it, but they actually get really excited when new people join them. don’t tell them i told you that, though – it’ll totally ruin their cool, aloof image.

    hoping you find some super stuff to do out there in the big, open ocean of uoft,


    P.S. also, i think there are some clubs outside right now (2pm on september 9th) outside sydney smith – i saw a huge crowd there on the way to Aska HQ. just in case you’re in the area right now.

    P.P.S. the title of this post is a reference to Disney’s enduring classic, Mulan. askastudent is non-partisan in all issues related to the army, enlisting and our current, global military situation. hashtag stop kony.

  • extracurricular

    shy commuter seeks convenient extra-curricular activity

    Hey! I’m going into my second year at U of T and I’m a commuter. Last year I tried getting involved with extra-curricular but I was way too shy and never had the time. Once my classes were over I would just make my way home (I have approx. a 2 hour commute by public transit from my house to St. George campus) because I live so far. I don’t want to make the same mistake this year by missing out on great opportunities. I found that a lot of meetings are held so late after classes that I would be commuting home alone at too late of a time. How can I get more involved while still being able to juggle school work, a part-time job, and a horribly long commute twice a day??


    hey there,

    as a fellow commuter and shy person, i empathize with your situation. it’s not fun spending an hour and a half studiously avoiding the gaze of creepy dudes on the train, and then be expected to look just as fresh and perky as the people who walked two minutes to class from their residence.

    the fact that you even want to be involved with all those commitments you already have is commendable, but if you feel that it will be too much, or that you’re not comfortable being that social, then don’t do it. school and work come first.

    that said, if you’re hell-bent on participating this year, there are some extra-curriculars that are pretty mobile and minimal on human interaction. if you’re into writing, the varsity and blogUT just require an internet connection, and the time commitment is pretty flexible.

    something that doesn’t meet often, like uoft’s monthly book club, might also be worth looking into.

    even if you’ve never heard of them, there are still plenty of student groups out there that meet during the day. i’d recommend browsing ULife’s list of student groups and calling those you’re interested in to ask about when and how often they meet. if you start now, i’m sure you’ll be able to find something that fits your schedule and disposition by september.