• courses,  east asian studies,  law school,  subject POST,  writing

    read more, write more, fight jane austen more,

    After 2 years in UT my GPA is real bad. First year, I joined as Life science major, and I did horrible to extent where I got academic probation. Second year, 3rd year was OK, but then I was still clueless. I had no clue what I wanted to study on and what to do after graduating. While there are some people who can press forward without having clear goal, i wasn’t like them. I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do, so I literally ditched studying. My first 2 years are done, and coming into 3rd year. I now have clear goal – to go into law school. Now, this isnt just one of those dreaming goals which I decide hey it looks cool to be attorney so lets try to be one. I want to be lawyer to help those around me because many takes

    advantages of my family who doesnt know much about law. Also, I love reading/writing/discussing, and wouldnt mind spending days/night reading different cases and help family/client, so I figured that its the one dream I have to chase on. To be realistic, however, I think it will be too hard. My overall GPA is about 1.7 ish. I have some courses in which I got 75~80%, whereas some of the courses I took i failed. I know some law schools do take note of struggles that student can face when coming into university and therefore take the best 2 years / or last 2 years of the GPA for student. So My goal right now is raising GPA and getting good LSAT mark. To be honest, I am not that worried about LSAT as much because it looks like the test is fairly straightforward (dont take me wrong, I didnt mean it to say LSAT is easy. I meant that LSAT is the test that you can do well if you spend enough time/efforts on it.) What worries me the most is classes that I will be taking on upcoming September. Its not too rare for student to improve significantly coming into 3rd/4th year, but at the same time I know it wont be easy. I am trying to use every single thing I can do to well in upcoming semester. I went to get advices from learning centre / registrar and so on. Still I feel like I need more help if I want to succeed academically. While I do not want to put too much details about my personal information in here, I am History specialist atm (to be more precisely, East Asian studies), and im not really sure what will be the best way to succeed next two years. I have been East Asian specialist for last two years (and some courses I took in EA, I did really well), but I cant figure out how can I do well upcoming semester. If the subject were say, Math or Physics, solving more problems and memorizing equations will help. IF subject is about say, language, memorizing/practicing will help. However, East Asian studies are not quite the case. Most of the courses I took in EA take reference to history, but does not directly ask questions about history. Instead it will ask you to apply the knowledge to write the essay. While sometime writing essay instead of exam is fun, right now I find it much more difficult, because there is no direct guideline given. You wont be tested for some materials you studied, instead you will be expected to use knowledges about all the papers you read through classes and make your own view to persuade professor/TA. So right now I am on the point where I know I need to improve and prepared, but I just dont know how. Can anyone help me with this? 1. EA Major, what is best way to improve your mark for classes that focus on alot of reading/writing? 2. What are the courses that I should take to improve my mark? (I mean there are no ‘bird’ course, but I am just asking your general opinion, some classes you found it pretty easy to go through – doesnt mean I will find it easy, but I want to just take note-)

    3. What are the best ways to improve your GPA? – What helped you the most? 4. What are the some of minor that you found entertaining/easy to take (i mean easy as not the materials, but doesnt require much prerequisite courses) I finally made mind up and I feel pumped up real hard. However, I know that I need actual plan than just go like ‘hey I am gonna work hard and do well.’ So I need every help I can get, even small advice would be real nice. Thanks people!


    hey there,

    i think you hit the nail on the head when you said you need an actual plan rather than just a blind commitment to working really really hard – whatever that means. obviously, whatever ‘working hard’ boils down entirely to how you work. i don’t know that the suggestions i give will be revolutionary. they may even be things you’ve heard before or thought yourself. but i never said i was a genie* – this is the best I can do.

    1. the only way to improve your reading and writing is by reading and writing –  big surprise. if you’re not taking courses in the summer, take advantage of that by reading as much as you can. read things you like. read things that challenge you (DON’T read any jane austen, for the love of god. that won’t help. and yes, austen fans, this is a public invitation to fight me).

    if you want to practice your writing, there are lots of ways to do so. sometimes freeform writing is great to keep your writing muscles warm. something that I used growing up was ‘Wordly Wise’; see if you can get your hands on a couple of books and start practising. they may even be available at your local public library.

    2. honestly – and this isn’t just me holding to a party line or whatever – i don’t think there are any courses at this university that i’ve found significantly easier than others, and i’ve taken everything from BIO260 to JPD439. i find that courses are constantly surprising me by how easy or difficult they are. my marks in courses surprise me. i’ve often done well in courses where i thought I’d do very badly, and vice versa. that being said, knowing what kind of courses you thrive in (for example, you mentioned that you do well in East Asian studies courses, which tend to be essay-based, so perhaps more East Asian/History courses would be up your alley) can help guide you towards similar courses, where you’re likely to be successful.

    otherwise, you can see course reviews on Portal (un-aska-sanctioned, university unofficial website alternatives are also available – often featuring more colourful language).

    3. i feel like I can’t answer the first question, but i can give some anecdotes about the second. everything i know about doing well in school comes down to two things: first, do something you love. if you’re doing something you don’t love, figure out a way to stop doing it. second, treat your degree like it’s a full-time job.

    i don’t want to push any unhealthy ideas on you: family and health are important and you shouldn’t sacrifice those things for school. i also understand that students often have to work at jobs to survive, and have to juggle those things with school. barring that, however, try to prioritize school as much as you can. i spent an average of 40 hours a week on school (that’s classes + studying/work outside of class). that’s as much as a full-time job. try to take the initiative to ask for help and suggestions. collaborate with classmates. be fully engaged in what you’re doing. that should help.

    4. again, I’m not going to grade POSts based on level of difficulty (see this tag for for meandering musings as to why i think assessing difficulty is useless), but i will tell you that you can find type 1 minors here. type 1 POSts are POSts that you can enter automatically after completing 4.0 credits. they have no prerequisites other than that. you may want to browse that list and see if any of the type 1’s interest you.

    i wish you all the best with all of this. keep working hard. you can get through this, my friend.



    * just an alien.

  • CR/NCR,  rotman,  writing

    cr for effort!


    I took RLG204 last year and applied for Credit/No Credit. I ended up passing the course and receiving a ‘CR.’ I was wondering if this counted towards the 2.0 writing credit that commerce students need to fulfill graduation requirements, or if it just counted as a humanities credit?

    Much thanks!



    Hey Sarah,

    For the life of me, I could NOT find anything online about a Rotman writing requirement, so I delved into the long forgotten calendars of yesteryears and found something about a writing requirement from back in 2006-07! I wonder if that was the last year of it…

    If you enrolled in the program back then, it DOES say that RLG courses count sooo I guess RLG204 suffices.

    BUT from my understanding, the writing requirement is a program requirement…

    Which is where things get tricky because as much as I’d hate to be the bearer of bad news, I’ve got to tell you that the golden rule for CR/NCR is that whatever course you make CR/NCR cannot be a program requirement.

    Now since this is a weird situation where Rotman just wants to give you an A for effort as opposed to look for a 99 from you, I recommend talking to whoever it is that’ll eventually be assessing your program requirements and asking if they’d be willing to take the CR/NCR course.



  • writing

    writing, rhetoric, and confusing requirements

    Good evening, my name is Victoria and I am wondering if I am able to take the writing and rhetoric program at Innis College as my minor if I received acceptance into Victoria College and into Humanities. The writing and rhetoric home page states that the prerequisite is admission to Innis One, and exclusion to the other colleges. What does this mean? Will I still be able to take courses offered in this program?

    Thank you.


    Hey Victoria!

    I’m not particularly sure what you were reading but the only prereq for the Writing and Rhetoric minor is 4.0 full credits. So basically if you finish your first year with the typical course load, you can just enroll next April. 🙂

    You’re lucky! I swear when I enrolled in that program I had to have a certain CGPA and was terrified that I wouldn’t get in.

    But yay you — UofT’s Writing and Rhetoric program is awesome. The profs are great, the courses are great, and the students… well, okay, sometimes the class can be frustrating in that someone will say “But sir, how do I use a semicolon,” and you have to sit through a ten minute discussion on something you’re already very familiar with, but I still highly recommend loading up on writing and rhetoric courses!

    wishing there was a major for w&r,

  • writing

    everybody loves essays … or not?

    Hi there Azka,

    I really like IMM250 (immunology), but there is this one essay we have to write on diabetes and the word “essay” basically drives me crazy cause this is gonna be wroth 30% of our mark, and I don’t know how to even write an essay. Should I still take the course? is there any help available at uoft st.george? and the outline for tho essay is so vague, all we are given are headings. thats is.



    I totally think you should take the course — granted, I’m biased since I’m almost certain that essays are what have been keeping me in university… But really, don’t let the prospect of an essay prevent you from taking something you like!

    Anyhow, even if you’re not confident in your essay-writing skills, UofT offers tons of extra resources to help out. For starter’s, you have your college writing centre. Essentially, you’re given about an hour to work one-on-one with a writing instructor who helps you structure your paragraphs, properly conjugate your verbs, and even play devil’s advocate to your possibly shaky arguments. But if you can’t get an appointment at your college’s writing centre, the Academic Success Centre sometimes offers some workshops on writing as well.

    Likewise, you’ve got the Writing Plus workshops held over at Woodsworth that might help you. There’s “Thesis Statements,” “Organizing an Essay,” and “Revising the Essay,” so I think those could really help you out.

    But aside from those, the university’s writing website also offers a bunch of tips on going about your research and writing. St. George has a ton of extra writing help, so don’t worry about a lack of services.

    And if your essay prompts are pretty vague, that’s a good thing! That means you can really work with the question and research almost anything as long as it works within the massive confines of that prompt. Essays are a great way of practicing your research skills and critical thinking.

    Good luck!


  • writing

    Write Like a Winner


    Just wondering if you know what type of courses are considered “expository

    writing” courses.


    Hi there. For everyone who’s wondering, an “expository writing” course teaches you how to effectively convey ideas and meaning in writing. These are super useful skills to learn, especially for once you’re out and about in the real world of jobs (ahh!!).

    UofT offers a bunch of undergraduate writing courses. You can take ENG100 (Effective Writing), TRN190 (Critical Reading and Writing) at Trinity College, or even get a minor in Writing & Rhetoric at Innis College. This popular program offers tons of great courses, like INI103 (Writing Essays) and INI300 (Strategic Writing in Business). The university also puts on a series of “writing plus” workshops during the year. These hour-long sessions teach research, note-taking, and how to write many types of assignments, like book reviews.

    For more info about writing opportunities, check out the artszone website.



  • writing

    My Writing has Multiple Personality Disorder

    Hello! Can we book an appointment now at the writing center?? It is really urgent!? I know they start Oct 4th, but I have assignments due before then!


    Don’t worry, everything is going to be amazing — b’cause boy, do I have some great news for you: the writing centres are OPEN! Students registered in Arts & Science at St. George campus can now book an appointment at any one of the Faculty’s seven writing centres. There are no more excuses for “dangling modifiers”, sudden mid-sentence shifts in person (“my writing has multiple personality disorder!”), or run-away, run-on sentences.

    The University’s writing website also has useful advice on clear and effective writing. It explains everything under the sun, from how to write a strong thesis statement to dealing with that dreaded annotated bibliography. I think they even cover the meaning of life.

    It’s 42,


  • bad times,  writing

    everyday is a winding road (academically speaking)

    I feel like I try so f***ing hard to do well in my courses and I always come up flat on my face. The highest mark I’ve gotten on an essay is 71. My average in highschool was 89. I knew I was going to get lower marks then that in first year, but it just seems so much. Every time I get an essay back I dread looking at the mark and then when I do, I feel like crying. Maybe I’m being overdramatic but when I don’t do well at something I want to give up and quit. So, I guess I should get to the question. Does it get better? Will my (apparent) ‘bad’ writing improve? Thanks anyway.


    Hey there. We have all been there. I remember having a 91 average in high school and getting my first mark and being like, “what 65???” University is hard and it sometimes is frustrating and it always makes you want to give up. But you’re commited to it, right? And it will get better.

    As you progress into further years, your classes will get smaller which will be a big help. Seek out independent studies and seminars – which will allow you to direct your research into your personal favourite topics of study and allow you to work more intensely with a professor. Get involved with your student union. And use your college writing centre, which will completely guarantee a boost in your essay grades. They hire trained editors to go over student essays and help you write a more formidable argument. The women at the Innis Writing Centre are complete geniuses and have saved me time and time again! Best of all, it’s free!

    The secret to doing well in university is going to class, reading all the material, and using the library (and your research materials) effectively. Academic writing and discourse is an entirely different way of writing, but once you master it and understand it – you will go far. Maybe talking to your prof or one of your registrar’s will make you feel a little more assured, so you can improve your grades next year?

    Another amazing resource is the Academic Success Centre, which offers drop-in consultations with a professional about how to write and study more effectively and workshops on writing and rhetoric. I’d definitely look into that.

    I guess what I’m saying here is that everyone struggles with the transition from high school to university, and first year, with its giant introductory classes and huge tutorials is bound to be intimidating. But there are resources for you, and I know that you can do it.

    xoxo, Askastudent

  • keeners,  writing

    i want to be a student journalist!

    Hi, ask!
    I’m a second year anthropology student at the University of Toronto this year with aspirations to become the next great, critical mind on current affairs. I’ve looked and looked for undergraduate courses in communication studies/journalism to prepare me for reporting but I’ve come up dry each time. I’d really appreciate being able to actually apply my study of people outside of academia. Do you know of any such undergraduate courses at u of t or is this something I’ll have to wait for graduate studies to learn?


    If you’re at the UTSC campus, you’re in luck. They have their own journalism program! But if you’re at St. George, you’ll have to make do with a hodgepodge of journalism options.

    The first thing that I can’t recommend enough is to look into volunteering for a student paper. U of T has a plethora of them – from the college papers to the big kahuna, The Varsity. Every year, papers across campus are looking for interested students to try their hand at reporting, taking photos, copy editing and attending their seminars. Email recruitment@thevarsity.ca to get involved.

    St. George has some hidden Communications classes tucked away in Innis, St. Mike’s and Victoria. Look into classes in the Film, Book & Media Studies (like hello!) and Literary Studies programs. Here’s a few sample classes you might be interested in:


    Instructor: Paul Babiak

    Class: T10-12

    A survey of historical and contemporary developments in radio, television, and the internet, and their impact on culture. Lectures examine technological innovations, commercialization, nationalization of the airwaves, government regulation, censorship, ratings and viewership, broadcasting and popular culture, propaganda, and the evolution of the radio-television personality. Examples from Canadian and international media.

    Prerequisite: Priority to BMS students
    Recommended preparation: SMC 219Y1/228H1/229h1


    Instructor: Michael Valpy

    Class: M10-12

    Through lectures, tutorials and field trips, this course examines the origins and development of the English-language newspaper in Canada since the eighteenth century. Research projects focus on the historical newspaper collections of the University of Toronto libraries, the Toronto Reference Library, and the Archives of Ontario.

    Recommended preparation: SMC 219Y1/228H1/229H1

    Best of luck with your anthropological discoveries.

    xoxo, Askastudent

  • first year,  subject POST,  writing

    Beat it Barbara. Get lost Larry.

    Book and Media Studies?
    Hey! I want to get into journalism and I’m wondering what programs and stuff I should do.
    I’m taking some Media courses in first-year. Any benefits?


    Book & Media studies, eh?

    I’ve never taken a course from this program, but I do love reading. Alas, I will resort to speculation, and harassing smart people to answer your question.


    The website says: The program prepares students for vocations in journalism, publishing, editing, communications and graduate programs in information and library science.

    This seems pretty evident that it would be relevant to a career in journalism, right? I noticed that the program description seems to emphasize text-based journalism. However, the course listings are evenly distributed between print and non-print media (e.g. radio, TV). There also seems to be a focus on the history of media, which may seem less relevant to the practice of journalism. Call me a romantic, but I still think being able to situate contemporary media in its historical context is a foundational skill for any journalist.


    Another idea for you is to take courses from the Innis College Writing & Rhetoric Minor program.

    This program is much more focused on the development of practical writing skills. Beyond this, the program aims to develop your ability to critically reflect upon, and construct, arguments. The program is also interdisciplinary (the wave of the future, my friend), as it is structured to complement other academic streams. So, it’s my humble opinion that throwing this Minor into the mix would directly benefit your journalistic aspirations. It’s also important to note that you don’t need to be enrolled in the Minor to take the Writing & Rhetoric courses.


    Beyond these options, I recommend taking a subject POSt in a field of interest to you. What kind of journalist do you want to be? A generic newscaster or editor? A political columnist? An economic writer? An endless fountain of second hand embarrassment? I’m not trying to pigeon-hole you, but it occurs to me that journalism is more than just being able to investigate issues and articulate them to broader audiences (a.k.a. the process of journalizing). I think that it’s very important to generate some expertise/interest in a more substantive field of study (a.k.a. the content of journalism).


    So, sample courses from various streams to see what might be of interest to your prospective career as a journalist. You might find some great candidates for an additional Minor or Major.


    You should also get involved in a student newspaper. Each College has one, and I get the impression that they are always desperate for contributors.


    I hope this helps. I also hope that any newsies out there can chip in with some experience-based advice!

  • fraternities & sororities,  housing,  writing

    find a rich kid with a loft

    i’m not sure if i’m gonna be staying at home while at u of t, so i’m considering my accommodation options now. i’ve got a friend who’s probably gonna get an apt, so i’ve got someone to room with, but have people recommended off-campus apartments, campus co-op, rez, frats? when should we start looking for a place? july?
    july yes.