• grad school,  law school

    you must not have trouble meeting word counts for your papers

    I started as a student at UTM a long time ago (in 2009 to be exact). I was on suspension a couple of times (2012 and 2014). I was going through a rough time in my life psychologically (mainly because of family and friend deaths that affected me emotionally) when I was younger and was also a somewhat lazy and unmotivated student that skipped a lot of classes. Originally I was in the sciences (Bio and Chem) and I didn’t like these subjects which is why I think it never really took off for me when I started at university. I battled through a lot of depression and worked for some time when I was suspended.

    In 2017 I returned to UTM after my suspension and completed a Philosophy Specialist degree in two years (4 regular semesters and 2 summer semesters). I finished in August and am going to graduate in November. When I returned to school in 2017 I already had 6.5 credits completed (mostly low marks, but a couple of good ones) with some 4 credits failed.

    From September 2017 to the end of August 2019 I completed 13.5 credits. All my philosophy courses were taken in that period (so none of my crappy grades from the past are in philosophy). Overall my GPA in these 13.5 credits was fairly high. Most of my marks were A’s (6.5 credits) with a couple of A+ (1.5 credits). 4 credits were A-‘s, and in 1.5 credits I got a B. I could have probably received even higher grades if my course load wasn’t always so high. In one of the semesters I took 5 philosophy courses and received a 4.0 in that semester with one A+. I also received an award from the philosophy department for outstanding performance in a 3rd year course. In general most of my courses in that period were 3rd year courses. I also did an independent research project with an excellent grade. I did take a lot of summer courses though, because I wanted to finish my degree as quickly as possible. I’m not young anymore so time for me was very crucial.

    My question is basically two part.

    1.  I was wondering if in my case I can have any hope of pursuing a Master’s degree in philosophy. I have been looking at graduate programs for philosophy and most of them look at only your last two years (or I guess the last half of your credits which in U of T’s case is 10 credits). Will my academic history affect my chance of getting in to a Master’s Program at any Ontario University?  Should I maybe include an explanatory letter about my past bad academic history or will they not even care about it? I am pretty certain that I would be able to secure really good recommendation letters and my writing samples should be pretty damn good considering that I have a numerous amount of papers that were A or A+ to choose from and improve on.
    2.  I was hoping to maybe go to Law School in the future, but I just don’t have the courage to apply with my academic history even if I do well on my LSAT. Would doing a Master’s in Philosophy help me in that respect, by prolonging a good track record of academic history (assuming I do well in grad school and focus on philosophy of law)? Should I just try to apply straight to law school if I get good LSAT scores?

    Sorry for the long email, but if you can give any advice on this or perhaps know someone else who can advise let me know.

    Thank you!


    hey friendo,

    long email indeed but it’s aight, still highkey preferable to the large stack of readings i gotta power through this week.

    the best advice i can give you, really, is to connect with the specific grad school/law school programs you’re interested in, and find out what their policies are. it’s really hard to make blanket statements about what all masters of philosophy or law admissions offices will consider, given that different institutions will place varying weight on different parts of an application, or have varying requirements. even knowing your whole academic history (lol) and being sympathetic to your circumstances, i don’t know that i’d be able to accurately gauge your chances, and am by no means an authority on grad school admissions.

    when you apply, you can certainly include a letter explaining your circumstances– i doubt it would detract from your application, but can’t guarantee they’ll take it into consideration. again, that might be a good thing to ask admission offices.

    if you’re available and interested, i can point you in the direction of fall campus day, which is happening this saturday, october 26, on campus. there should be info tables set up in the Fall Campus Day Tent to answer potential grad school applicants’ questions, and i believe they’re running sessions on “Myths & Realities” of law school admissions at Bahen 1130, at 11 and 2 pm,

    you can also consider visiting your registrar, and have them talk you through your options in person.

    best of luck!

    be Boundless,


  • law school

    what, like it’s hard?

    I am considering law school after I finish my undergraduate degree. What would admissions look for specifically? Would they look into what courses I had taken and what level they are in (2nd year versus 4th year)? Does it matter on who writes the recommendation letters (such as a university professor versus a teacher I had known for years)? When do people prepare to take the LSAT? Are there any tips to make my admission chances better? I wanna be prepared as law school is competitive as heck.


    hi there,

    as someone who’s never gone to law school (or has yet to, my parents are still hoping lol) i wasn’t really sure how to answer this question without making stuff up.

    so i reached out to someone who worked in grad school admissions, and this is pretty much what they had to say:

    there isn’t really a set standard for law school admissions– nothing they’ll specifically look for across the board. depending on what program and what school you’re looking into, the things they require and take into consideration will vary. even the person reviewing the application can influence the answers to each of those questions you asked. this is true for all grad schools, not just law, apparently.

    because of this, any concrete answer i might be able to provide you with probably won’t be consistently useful, and might even be misleading. i was told it’s best to specifically check each program or school you’re considering. often, there’s a lot of stuff you can find just floating on the web. you can also look into attending info sessions, as schools typically send student or faculty representatives that’ll be able to tell you about their program’s criteria.

    you can also take a shot at emailing or phoning schools’ admission offices directly. this is a recommendation that comes with a (hopefully unnecessary) friendly reminder to be polite when you do so! i feel like a lot of students forget this when talking to administration. these are the people that may have your law school future in their hands, and anyway it’s just the decent thing to do. this also means you’ll want to avoid emailing multiple people the same question at the same time– if you feel it’s necessary to do so, cc (not bcc) them. this way, they’ll be able to tell that you’ve asked someone else too, and can then check whether you’ve received a response yet.

    so that covers admissions– as for the LSAT, life @ u of t has done a pretty good piece with some relevant advice. according to them, it only takes about 2-3 months to prep for the exam. this other random law school site i pulled up recommended 3-4, so i’d say 3 is probably a good bet.

    closing this post off with this iconic moment, because no post about law school is complete without a lil elle woods.

    you got this. law school may be competitive as heck, but i believe in your ability to compete. best of luck with it all, and hope this helped even if it wasn’t as specific as you hoped!

    over n out,


  • GPA,  grad school,  grades,  law,  law school

    legally blonde is a prereq for law school

    If i want to go to law school after ungrad, preferably osgoode or uoft; is it better off to go to york and not uoft for undergrad? because apparently uoft marks a lot harder which makes it harder to get into law school



    first, please keep in mind that i am currently doing my undergrad at U of T, not york, so my perspective may be slightly skewed. since you came to aska, i feel that you probably wanted an opinion from a U of T student anyways.

    yes, U of T does mark very hard and you may not end up with the golden 4.0 GPA you had envisioned yourself getting, but then again, you may also find york challenging. who knows?

    i’m sure you’ve browsed the rankings for both undergrad and law school for both schools so i won’t get into that, but it really depends on what kind of education you want for yourself. both schools have very different reputations. you may feel that U of T marks harder, but maybe that’s a good thing! if you are challenged at school, maybe you’ll be more ready for law school. at a different school, you might get higher grades, but will you be ready for law school?

    going to another school may seem like the “easier” choice, but if you work hard now, it’ll pay off. if you don’t work hard now, you’ll have to work hard later on.

    another thing to consider is, lets say you do an undergrad at york. do you think it would be more convenient/ familiar if you went to osgoode for law school? maybe you’ll be more used to being at the same campus.

    it’s great that you’re thinking ahead, but i feel like this question is a little premature. your first year may change your perspective on all of this. perhaps you’ll decide that you don’t want to go to law school, and that you’ll want to become a teacher!

    anyways, definitely think long and hard about this.*


    *but come to U of T

    also, if you want to go to law school and haven’t seen legally blonde, you really should. it’s practically a pre-requisite.



  • 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.

  • jobs,  keeners,  law school,  profs,  work-study

    keen keen keen

    Hi there,

    I’m a second year student who’s eager to find some useful campus work that can lead to some great recommendation letters for law school. I’m particularly interested in working at the dean’s office or the office of my college’s principal. Is there an opportunity for students to find job placements in the above mentioned places? If so, where would I be able to find more information about this? I’ve done some research but haven’t found anything helpful regarding this inquiry.

    Also, how long should you know a professor before asking them for a really good recommendation letter? A year? 2 years? I know it depends on the student-teacher relationship, which can be built strongly even within the first month of classes, but would a letter be more credible for an ivy league law school if it read that my prof knows me for X many years, as opposed to one semester or only one year (depending on the course)? I’ve heard of some students taking courses with the same professors over the years only to get a great letter from them at the end, but I can’t do the same because all of my required and elective classes so far and in the future are taught by different professors. If I only enrol in the courses with my well-liked professors, I’ll be taking courses that I’ll get random credit for, but not towards any of my designated programs. Is there a specific way to go about finding the right prof now to build a relationship with, or should I just stick to my 4th year profs?

    Thank you so much for your help!!


    hey there,

    i want to commend your eagerness. i can dimly remember being that excited and ambitious about things, though it’s a memory that’s fading fast. hopefully that doesn’t happen to you, too. (i mean, it likely will, but that’s not a very nice thing for me to say to a stranger, is it?)

    i don’t know that i’ll be much help with the job-finding, other than pointing you in the right general direction, like a crotchety old woman who lives at the fork in the road and directs people down the path through the forest, not down by the sea, but doesn’t bother to tell you about the GIANT WOLVES you’ll have to fight to get through that forest (in this case the wolves are asking past employers for references, or something equally as unpleasant).

    every college has such a radically different way of organizing itself – with different responsibilities attached to each office, different relationships between different offices, etc. – that the answer will change depending on the college. for example, when you say ‘dean,’ do you mean dean of residence? dean of students? at some colleges, both those roles are handled by the same person. at others, they’re split up. the principal’s office also handles a smorgasbord of different responsibilities, and what they are varies at different colleges.

    feel your college out. go to events. get involved and meet people who know how the different offices work. i find that observation can go a long way, and sooner or later, you may hear about a job opening up that you can apply to.

    generally speaking, i find these administrative university offices tend to hire either full-time staff or work-study students, but again, that’s about as specific as my knowledge gets. one really easy way to figure out who’s hiring is by scrolling through work-study postings on the CLN.

    as for your references question: this may be annoying to you, but i feel like the answer is, don’t think about it too much? if you encounter a professor you really like, and you can find a way to take multiple courses with them by fulfilling degree credits, then do that. if not, don’t. I’ve never taken two courses with the same professor (the stars i.e. my schedule/course space/program req’s never aligned that way) and i’ve still asked for multiple professors for reference letters that they’ve happily given.

    keep in mind that professors – especially third and fourth year professors – expect to receive reference letter requests. a lot of those courses tend to be smaller, so it’ll be a lot easier to get to know them than it is in a huge first- or even second-year class. if you are concerned about really getting to know a prof, a good idea may be to take an upper year research course. as well as being a wonderful learning experience, these courses facilitate one-on-one time with your supervisor. research supervisors are great people to ask for references, because they have a much more sophisticated knowledge of your work ethic, skills, personality, etc.

    good luck with all of this! one final tip: start saving up for Harvard or whatever it is now. future you will thank you.



  • law school

    claw your way to law


    So i’m finishing up my third year right now and hope to go on to law school after graduating. My cGPA is not great (3.3) and i’ve just realized that though many of the law schools i want to apply to look at last/best years, a “year” consists of a full course load, which i unfortunately haven’t had since my 1st year. This will not look good. Because of this i was thinking of doing a 5th full year (so they’ll look at years 4&5).

    So on to my question: Is there anywhere/anyone i can talk to specifically about my admissions prospects, the pros/cons of doing a 5th years, the logistics of all this, etc. I’ve tried the registrar and academic advisor, but honestly it just wasn’t that helpful. I was hoping you might be able to direct me to a consulting sort of place (internal or external to the University), if that’s at all possible. Just anyone that’s not the registrar or AAdvisor (cause the last time i saw them it was a total waste of time- basically told me everything was peaches and i could do whatever-not much constructive help…)

    Sorry if this question is a bit out of your purview,

    Any info would help,



    hey there,

    if you’re looking at going to law school, the best people to talk to are probably the law schools themselves. go to open houses and ask questions there. contact people who are involved with admissions at the actual schools that you’re interested in, and ask if they would be able to answer some of your questions. they are much more well-versed on the nuances of their own admissions process than anyone else. that being said, i don’t want to completely discount the our registrar’s offices. maybe you just need to try talking with someone else at your registrar’s office, someone who is more familiar with law school.

    also, a lot of this information is available online. i don’t know exactly which school you’re interested in, but the faculty of law at uoft provides pretty extensive information about admissions, and other Ontario universities provide a similarly exhaustive amount of info.



    P.S. don’t worry about questions being out of my purview. it takes a lot to phase me at this point when it comes to aska questions; i’ve pretty much seen it all at this point.

  • law school

    b(law) b(law) b(law)

    Hey! I hope you guys will be able to help me out with my all my questions,

    Anyways, I am a first year student thriving to (hopefully) become a lawyer in the future. It is also one of my goal to get accepted at U of T’s law school. My first year experience taught me a lot of things indeed and although I can assure you that I did work hard and I did try my best in school, I still found myself struggling to get that amazing GPA.

    I currently have a 2.7 GPA and I was wondering if hypothetically, I get to improve my marks in my second, third and fourth year, and if I am able to get close to a 4.0 in the next few years, will I still have a chance to be accepted to U of T law school? (despite my low average in first year) I know how hard it is to get accepted at u of t and i don’t really know what things I need to work on in order to get a better chance of getting accepted (like volunteer work or joining school clubs?)

    Also, are there any tips you can give me in terms of ways I can do to improve my marks? Like tips in note taking for example?

    Thanks for your help [&#X1f60a]


    hey there,

    standard disclaimer: i am not uoft law school (if i were, i’d probably wear much nicer shoes). i have NO IDEA what actually goes into the admissions process at the faculty of law. all i know is what they’ve published, and even making predictions based on that is a sketchy business. definitely don’t take my words as gospel; think of everything i say more as helpful suggestions.

    now, to your questions: you have a lot of time ahead of you; three long years to sort out your marks, and develop your interests and skills. if you can pull up your marks significantly in the next three years, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t graduate with a very respectable GPA. uoft law in particular bases its admissions GPA on your best three years (see “Standards for Admission 2015-2016“). hypothetically, you could apply having had a 4.0 CGPA over your second, third and fourth years. your first year doesn’t even need to have influenced it.

    lots of people have very different marks in their first year than they do in their subsequent years. first year is a transition period, and for a lot of people, it can be pretty rough. it certainly was for me.* that being said, you don’t just start your second year and magically turn into a goddess with a 4.0 GPA who somehow finds time to run a charity and go to yoga three times a week. going from a 2.7 to a 4.0 is a big leap, and it won’t come easy.

    that being said, the harder you work, the more you seek out help, the better your chances of landing the jump. resources that can help you include the academic success centre, math aid centres, and the writing centre at your college. the more you can get into the habit of asking for help, the better. go to TAs’/professors’ office hours. study with your peers (if you find that helpful). ask questions when and wherever you can.

    also, i recommend that you use the summer to reflect on your first year. maybe you’ll decide you need to change what you’re studying for next year. maybe there are some things you need to de-prioritize in order to focus on school, like a job or extra-curriculars or falling asleep watching Netflix (later, i will advise you to join all these things, which i realize sounds contradictory, but it’s all about BALANCE). maybe you need to dial back on social outings in favour of studying. almost everyone adjusts their habits slightly after first year, so don’t be afraid to make the changes you need to to be successful.

    finally, your question about what non-academic things you should be doing to get into law school is the least answerable of all your questions. i don’t think the admissions committee even knows what they’re looking for – until they see it. what they want is someone interesting. someone with a compelling story. there’s no one way to be that.

    the best piece of advice i can give you is just to do what you’re interested in. if there’s a club you’d like to join, great. somewhere you’d like to volunteer? awesome. if you need a job, do the job. start a band. join a sports team. get involved with student politics. join an activist group. just try and live and study and work to the fullest of your capabilities and interests, and you can’t go wrong.

    if you have more questions, i find these pages are helpful introductory primers. and a final tip: don’t let the LSATs sneak up on you. the time to study for them will come up sooner than you think.



    *i know that’s hard to believe, considering what a perfect, put-together specimen of perpetual light aska is now.

  • law school

    you can’t escape the LSAT (mostly)

    If I want to do the law undergrad + gradschool program (jd/phD) or a JD + MA in Criminology at the same time; do I really need to do the LSAT or there is a special way of admission to careers for the joint programs’ students?


    if you’re talking about uoft’s collaborative degrees, then no, you need to write the LSAT. in fact, you need to complete all admissions requirements for BOTH programs, and then be accepted to both, in order to get in.

    you’re not going to find a law program in canada or the States that doesn’t require the LSATs. that’s why there’s a cottage industry forming around sending desperate North Americans to the U.K. – because schools across the pond don’t require the LSATs. do keep in mind though that law degrees are bachelor’s degrees over there, so it’s a different kind of degree. also, i don’t know if you could find a collaborative program in the U.K.. maybe. but i’d recommend you do your research.

    good luck,


  • grad school,  law school

    i’m a puBLISHED AUTHOR

    Noticed numerous people who had a lack of any significant EC’s during their UG state that publishing of a paper looked fairly good on their CV while applying to law school or grad school. Just something I noticed; so I was curious what aska’s opinion about this? ( I know aska isn’t on the admissions board or anything – but y’know; aska’s opinion’s are always insightful and valuable) Also – how can I get a paper published at U of T (Note: I’m a UTSC student)


    hey there,

    i love how you referred to me in the third person throughout this whole question. makes me feel like a famous person.

    anyway – yeah, as you all know, i’m no expert on this stuff. also, there is a HUGE difference between law school and grad school. the admission requirements for grad school vary widely depending on what program you’re attending, whereas law school has its own individual breed of application.

    generally speaking, if an application includes any kind of personal statement or CV, then including published work is definitely beneficial – though not, typically, a requirement. especially if your grad program is an academic or research-based degree, as opposed to a professional degree, published work in academic journals or magazines can be a huge plus.

    law school is a bit different. most law schools require some kind of personal statement in addition to transcripts and LSAT scores, but it differs from most grad school applications. law school statements are all about spinning a narrative about yourself.

    according to uoft’s Faculty of Law, “[s]uccessful statements tend to be those that feature clear and authentic writing…There is no template to follow as the statement serves as the means for self-expression and self-description.

    you can take a look at some examples of successful personal statement for uoft law here.

    so – yes. published work can only ever be a positive when it comes to applications. it’s rarely a requirement, but i’d say it counts just as much – not more or less – as extra curricular involvement.



  • law school

    i stay as far away from standardized tests as i can

    law school / LSAT advice please? any is appreciated! Are there specific LSAT prep books that are really good or sessions I can attend on campus? What if my CGPA going into 3rd year is only around 3.2…?


    hey there,

    i have not taken the LSATs, and i know next to nothing about prepping for them, so all this info might be stuff is just secondhand info you’ve heard already (in which case, i’m sorry):

    first, i would familiarize myself with the free materials provided by the LSAC website. secondly, this article seems to provide some really great information, and also recommends prep books.

    as for LSAT prep courses, there are a few in toronto, but not having taken any of them, i honestly feel like a fraud recommending one over the other. what i can say is that there are PLENTY of forums online discussing the merit of each one, and how they compare – and plenty of them which are just about courses in toronto. look around, maybe ask some questions on a couple boards, and hopefully you can start figuring out what’s best for you!

    the only course available on campus is specifically for low-income students, which you have to apply to. you can read more about it here.

    as for GPA: it’s pretty much accepted that you need at least a 3.7 to be competitive. BUT you’re only going into your third year. that means you have TWO WHOLE YEARS to get your marks up.

    also, most law schools don’t look at your CGPA; they look at the average GPA in your best three years. which means you?can drop the worst of your last two years from your GPA, as long as your next two years are both better rather than worse.

    all in all, things aren’t as dire as they might seem right now. if you work hard, you can have a real shot at this by the time you’re set to graduate.



  • courses,  law school

    ethics, society & law & law

    Hi aska!
    I have a couple of questions I’m hoping you can answer for me:
    1. I’m planning on taking a couple bird courses related to my program throughout my undergrad years. What do you think about RLG232H1 (religion and film), PHL235H1 (philosophy of religion), and HPS100H1 (history and philosophy of science)? Have you heard other students claiming that these courses are easy?
    2. I know this may be a far stretch, but would you happen to? have any course suggestions for Ethics, Law and Society majors? I’m going into my second year and I’m scared that I’ll do very poorly due to the intensive program courses, so I’m wondering if there are any courses that can help me ease my way in this major while allocating the courses towards my major program?
    3. I’ll be applying to U of T and Colombia law school and I want to know if I’d be giving a bad impression by having my courses scattered all over with disregard for my particular year of study and its misalignment with lower course levels? I’ve planned my courses for the current and upcoming years, and though I have 3rd year courses in my 2nd year, in my 3rd year I’ll have 2nd and 3rd year courses, and in my 4th year I’ll have one 1st year course among some 4th year courses, but I’ll mainly have 3rd year courses. Do you happen to know if it’s bad to be so inconsistent with my course levels? Will law schools assume that I’m disorganized and not evolving as a student?
    4. Over the past few months, I’ve been think about starting my own research plan and developing my own publication. How do undergraduate students go about doing this in a successful manner? Who or which professor would I have to approach and how could I ask for the help if I don’t even have a Masters or Doctorate?
    I’d really appreciate your help! I know this was a long message so thank you for taking your time in answering my questions.


    hey there,

    thanks for ordering your questions! i’m going to stick to it in my answer, ’cause there’s nothing i like more than a GOOD LIST.

    1. i haven’t taken/heard much about any of those courses, unfortunately. all i can do is suggest you look up the course evals (they’re posted on blackboard under ‘Course Evals’ in the bar on top). also, check out what other people think of the profs teaching the course (using a website that aska can neither endorse nor mention since it’s not affiliated with uoft, but which you have almost definitely used before).

    a previous aska has recommended browsing PHL235 as a guest on blackboard (which you can do by clicking ‘Browse Course Catalogue’ on the home page of blackboard). that is generally a great piece of advice, but neither PHL235 and RLG232 seem not to be available there anymore. boo-hoo.

    i was able to find an old syllabus for PHL235 – it’s from the mississauga campus, but you’ll at least be able to get a general idea of what the course might look like.

    2. since i don’t actually know you, it’s hard for me to guess what courses you might find easy. again: just try and get some info about the profs for courses that pique your interest, see if you can find previous syllabi and check out the course evals.

    also, if there are any courses that logically follow a 100-level course you took and really liked, prioritize those.

    and keep an eye on the drop deadline so you can ditch courses you don’t end up liking like a hot potato.

    3. this is a VERY TRICKY question for me to answer, mainly because i don’t KNOW the answer. all i can do is extrapolate from the information that’s already public to us.

    uoft law does explicitly state that “we examine the pattern of the intensity of the course work taken across an applicant’s undergraduate career (light versus heavy, full-time versus part-time, co-op versus regular, introductory versus upper-year courses, courses on exchange, courses during the summer term). We also examine the patterns of results the applicant achieved in that coursework (increasing trends, sustained periods of strong performance, short-term deviations, cumulative results, etc). Moreover, we take into account the nature of the program and the undergraduate institution (or institutions) at which an applicant has studied.”

    colombia law makes a similar statement: “Applications are holistically reviewed by the Committee, a process that thoroughly considers each candidate’s intellectual and academic qualifications, performance on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), and an examination of the personal qualities considered requisite to scholastic success, professional distinction, and public service.”

    so yeah, the kinds of courses you take will have some impact. however, if you take on a course load that you can’t handle and your GPA isn’t competitive, then you may as well not apply in the first place.

    plus, that bit about “increasing trends” is important – if your GPA is going in the upwards direction, that is very promising. if you have to take a few 300-levels (or even 200- or 100-level) courses in your fourth year, and a couple of 200-levels in your third year, to make that happen, it’s not the end of the world. in fact, at uoft, it’s probably the norm.

    so: try to challenge yourself, but don’t shoot yourself in the foot. give yourself the opportunity to succeed. let them determine how difficult your program or institution is – your primary focus, in my opinion, should be making your GPA as competitive as possible.

    4. what kind of publication, chum? depending on the project you have in mind, the process could be different. however, generally:

    if there is a professor you have a good rapport with, you could definitely approach them about it. there are also a few avenues for carrying out research within the faculty as an undergraduate: 389/399 courses are offered by most departments, as are independent study courses.

    there’s also the undergraduate research fund and the trinity comprehensive paper. you might also consider getting involved with Mindful, the ethics, society & law undergraduate journal, and using that as a springboard into other projects.



  • admissions,  law,  law school

    aska tells you the rule of law

    Are there any course prerequisites for law school, or just a BA in
    anything (besides an LSAT and high averages)?


    hey there,

    So basically I’m just gonna give you the full run-down of uoft law, because it’s a bit different from the way other canadian law schools do things and I couldn’t bear to leave you all confuzzled.

    Most law schools in ontario (osgoode, western, what have you) consider your lsat score and gpa for admission, and nothing else. Uoft requires those as well. If you want an idea of the competitiveness you’re looking at, the average GPA of incoming students last year was 88%, and the average LSAT score was 167. Take note that these aren’t cut-offs or minimum requirements; they’re averages of the people who got in. You can have an average/LSAT score that’s lower than that and still get in.

    So the GPA and LSAT scores together make up 2/3rds of your application. The other 1/3 is a personal essay, which is unique to UofT. Basically, it’s no big deal, just a little essay describing who you are, what’s cool about you, and why you want to be a lawyer. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about what you know about law; it’s more an opportunity to highlight what’s different or special about you.

    hope that helps man,


  • dropping courses,  grad school,  jobs,  law school

    loving law

    Hi aska,

    I have a couple questions if you don’t mind:

    1. I really screwed up my first year finishing with a horrible gpa of 2.4. I was looking into going to law school or grad school after my undergrad, but now I’m terrified that I’ve ruined my chances of getting in. Have I completely screwed up my gpa? Even if I get a 4.0 for the rest of my undergrad years (which is highly unlikely), my cgpa still won’t be very high. I heard the minimum for most law schools is 3.7 :\

    2. If I drop an F course before Nov 4th, there will be no record that I even took the course in the first place right? If so, is it possible for me to drop the course and start fresh by taking it next semester? Or will they know that I enrolled and dropped out of it first semester?

    3. Do you have any info or know where I can find more info about internships? Or volunteering? And do you have any tips on applying? If law/grad school is still an option, I’m worried that my resume is not up to par.

    Thanks so much and please reply asap if possible!


    Hey there,

    So I’m just going to number off my answers if you don’t mind:

    1. You didn’t screw up your first year, so you better take back those pity party invitations hun. While most post-grad programs want at least a 3.5 GPA, you have three whole years to raise your CGPA. How? By working hard. You sound like you realize you slacked off a little last year. Are you ready to change that? If you don’t know how or if you need some tips, try consulting the Academic Success Centre. They’re always really helpful. 🙂
    2. You are correct. November 4, 2012 is the last day to drop an F course without any academic penalty. Likewise, you can definitely drop the course right now (before November 4) and take it again next semester without any problems.
    3. As for info on internships and volunteering, head over to the Career Centre website. They always have listings for part-time work or volunteer opportunities. Moreover, they have loads of pages on writing proper cover letters, prepping for interviews, and general application tidbits. They also hold a number of workshops and info sessions over the year about applications or the ins and outs of resume writing.