• drama,  grad school

    excess rhymes with success anyway they’re essentially the same

    Hi. I am interested in joining the UofT’s PhD Program in Drama, Theatre and performance studies. After some reading, I found the information that the thesis supervisor is assigned AFTER the PhD candidate registration. My question: should I write and e-mail to the professor that I dream to work with? Or it would be excessive? Should I point at the Statement of Research intent my interest in working with this specific professor, or maybe it would be better leave it open?

    ——————————————

    hey there,

    as is pretty common with the questions i get, never been in this situation before.

    but i spoke to someone with a lil more experience with this and it seems like there’s certainly no harm in doing any of the things you mentioned! there’s a possibility that the program told you the thesis supervisor wouldn’t be assigned yet to alleviate the stress of finding a supervisor before you’re registered. it may not necessarily be because they don’t want you to make those connections.

    i mean, if it’s not an urgent matter for you, the program is running an open house on january 17 where they can answer your question. more info on that here. if it is more urgent and you really want a definitive answer, the page i linked provides an email you can use to set up a meeting outside of that open house and ask your questions.

    hope this helped at least a lil!

    be Boundless,

    aska

  • grad school

    is this a… york advisor?

    Hi, so I started my degree in 2016 and I really struggled the first two years and ended up on academic probation, and then an academic suspension. I’m back now, and I’m predicting I’ll finish in 2022 or 2023. So that’s 6-7 years I’m putting down on my resume I’ve been in school and it’s making me beyond depressed and embarrassed.

    I want to purse a career in teaching. Possibly go to York for their consecutive education program, but I don’t know how they’ll look at my last 2 years. Especially if I decide to take an additional year, and take more than 20 credits. I can’t find the info on how York will look at my extra credits or even OISE/ grad schools in general?

    I emailed York but they didn’t say much 🙁

    I just want to know how extra credits and lower course loads (still full time, 3.0, but not 5.0) look to them.

    ——————————————

    hey there,

    there’s no shame at all in being in school for that long. i know there’s a certain pressure to get your degree done in the standard four years, but it’s becoming more and more common for students to take their time and stay in school longer. university is tough, man. and everyone’s life has different timing. i actually think your drive to bounce back from those obstacles you hit and return to school is pretty dang admirable, for what it’s worth.

    i can understand, though, your concern over how your academic record will affect your future educational prospects. unfortunately, this is about as substantial as answer as i’m able to give you:

    as in, it would be really really difficult for me to give you reliable info on how york would assess your academic record. only the people at york would know that. you can try the lovely people over at the york u life tumblr, which functions relatively similarly to aska, or you might just need to continue pestering the admissions office. it frustrates me that they didn’t provide you with much, because i refer people to grad schools admissions so often hoping the info those offices have will be better than what i have to offer.

    tl:dr unfortunately, i have to stick to my standard grad school admissions answer and tell you to contact the grad schools themselves. this feels like too risky of a thing for me to guess at. even with OISE running out of u of t, i don’t have much info to work with. i’m really sorry i can’t be more helpful 🙁

    best of luck and be Boundless,

    aska

  • academic offense,  grad school

    this week on ‘how many unrelated gifs can i throw into a post?’ we have…

    I am applying to graduate school this year, and one of the questions that is asked on ouac is if I have ever had an academic sanction. I had an academic offense in my first year for my class, however, I just got a 0 on the assignment (it was a 1% assignment), and it only stayed on my record for 2 years. It is now no longer on my record, and the grad school I am applying to only requires my final 2 years (which this class is not a part of). Is it fine if I check the box off as no?

    ——————————————

    hey there,

    checked this over and it seems like it is fine if you don’t report your sanction!

    if it’s no longer on your record, my understanding is that it was not deemed significant enough that it should affect your educational prospects moving forward.

    you don’t try to show sanctions if you only have tiny sanctions, i guess. we really be out here tryina make absurd political gifs relevant. here are some of my other recent faves, with absolutely no context, because sanctions make me think of politics and politics right now is this:

    and the purest energy of all is this boi:

    best of luck with the graduate school applications– aska is rooting for ya!

    be Boundless,

    aska

  • grad school,  law school

    you must not have trouble meeting word counts for your papers

    Hello!
    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,

    aska

  • grad school

    rEquiReMeNtS

    hi. i’m thinking of grad school. i passed but did poorly in one of the required courses. what’s the point of retaking a course that you’ve passed if it’s going to be marked as “extra” and not count towards GPA? (sorry if this sent twice i think there was a glitch)

    ——————————————

    hey there,

    grad school! fun stuff. cool cool cool cool cool.

    i’m not a grad school admissions officer. i dunno why i keep throwing this disclaimer in, because obviously yall know that.

    so my best guess, then, is that the point of retaking that course is that it’d help you out with that requirement. if it’s really that important, it may be worth investing the time in. i’m thinking that anything listed as a required course will give the school an idea of how successful you’d be in their program. they might consider it separately from your gpa, maybe?

    sorry. i did try to look into this, but i honestly have no clue about it.

    if you really wanna be sure about this, i’d recommend you contact the grad school you’re looking into (different ones may see the situation differently), or at least speak to your registrar.

    wish i could be of more help, man.

    be Boundless,

    aska

  • enrollment,  enrolment,  grad school

    i’m lovin it

    hello, lovin the new theme
    there are 3 courses that i need to take to complete my degree requirements. for the rest of my courses, i am conflicted as to whether i should choose bird courses that aren’t directly related to my degree or to choose 3/4-level year courses that are related to my degree and probably require more work. are these different types of courses weighed differently by grad schools? the grad school im interested in said they rank applicants based on GPA of the most recent 10 FCE but do they still consider the types of courses that are taken?

    ——————————————

    hey there,

    you noticed the theme change! it’s still very much a work in progress (read: kind of dull atm) but i’m looking into spicing it up a bit. lemme know if you have any suggestions. but yeah, hopefully it’s a tad bit easier on the eyes now.

    the thing with grad schools is that what they’ll consider and the weight they place on different elements of your application varies so much between schools. i’m glad you put time into researching your grad school– but i’d encourage you to take it a step further and maybe give their admissions office a call. i don’t know if they’ll be able to give you a super direct answer, but it’s gotta be better than what i can approximate with the very limited info i have.

    sorry i couldn’t be more helpful! my best guess is that it’s probably safer to take those related higher-level courses. but even just thinking about that much extra work, especially if it doesn’t turn out to be necessary, kind of hurts. so yeah– would encourage you to go straight to the real sources for this one.

    be Boundless,

    aska

     

  • 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,

    aska

  • computer science,  grad school,  non degree

    compSIGH

    Hello! I’m a mechancial engineering graduate from Queen’s university. I realized my passion for computer science and want to pursue a career in computer science. The masters of computer science at UofT requires CSC343H: Introduction to Databases CSC369H: Operating Systems; and CSC373H: Algorithm Design, Analysis & Complexity or their equivalents. Would it be possible/feasible for me to apply and get into these courses as a non-degree student?
    yes, from what i know it should be possible to do that! u of t easily allows recently graduated students to enrol as a non-degree student for the purpose of getting those grad school prereqs down. this is true even if you completed your studies elsewhere– you’ll just need to apply. compsci as a program is considered to be under the faculty of arts and science, which makes it much easier to get into those courses as a non-degree student (with faculties like music and engineering, you’d have to contact them).
    the only thing i can think of that might be a barrier to you is if those three courses are particularly in-demand. i looked them up on the timetable and they’ve all got priority enrolment controls, which essentially means only compsci degree students can get seats until a certain date. then, artsci students and utm/utsc students have second and third priority respectively. i’m not sure where non-degree students would fall in this priority order– possibly with utm/utsc, or after?
    if you’d like to know for certain what the likelihood is that you can get in, i’d suggest you contact the department directly. even though i can see the class sizes and enrolment controls, it’s pretty hard for me to give you a concrete answer as a fellow student myself.
    hope this was helpful though! all the best with your possible future at u of t.
    over n out,
    aska
  • grad school

    higher further faster

    Hi aska, do graduate programs (such as masters or law school) take into account how many 300 or 400 level courses you take during your undergraduate? I know law school admissions weigh GPA and LSAT marks quite heavily and wouldn’t like to see students taking 100 level courses in their 4th year for an easy GPA record. Should I aim to take mostly 400 level courses in 4th year? Or is that too unrealistic sanity-wise?

    ——————————————

    hello friend,

    graduate programs! half of us, maybe more, have these hovering over our heads, don’t we? gotta love the higher education bubble pushing us higher further faster.

    admissions questions are often tough to answer well because, as a student myself, it’s hard to know exactly what the decisions people are looking for. so i don’t have a preset formula to offer you– no ‘take 3 400 levels and you’ll be fine’ or whatnot.

    according to u of t’s school of graduate studies, though, a variety of non-academic factors play a role in your admissions. apparently, this might include the research statements you propose, their alignment with faculty expertise, and “relevant professional activities.” when you apply to grad school, you’re typically also required to submit reference letters: glowing recommendations from reputable individuals can do wonders for your application. my point in reminding you of this (because you’re likely already aware) is that it’s not all about what you can tackle academically.

    while i’m relatively certain it is important to take several higher-level courses in your undergrad if you’re considering grad school, doing so isn’t everything. it’s important for your application to be strong in other areas, and you may not have as much time and energy to expend on things like “professional activities” if you’re drowning under a boatload of 400 level courses. grad schools want to see that you’re able to challenge yourself and succeed, but i feel like there’s a balance and only you would know where that lies for you. like you mentioned, sanity-wise taking lots of tough courses can be taxing and it’s important to prioritize your health and well-being. not that i’m the poster child for doing so, but it’s a process, right?

    anyway, i feel like you should probably have a chat with an upper year expert at your registrar or even u of t’s grad school admissions office if you want further information on this. your registrar will be familiar with your academic record and be able to give better recommendations as to what you can handle academically, whereas the grad school admissions people are literally the ones making the decisions so they’ll have more concrete answers than i do.

    sorry i couldn’t be more helpful! best of luck figuring it out.

    over n out,

    aska

  • grad school

    if you love me don’t make me do math

    Hello. I’m interested in applying for a masters program at uoft, specifically in the public policy (PP) programs. Although uoft is my first option (i go to utsc currently), I’m open to PP programs at grad schools in Toronto like at Ryerson or York. My first three semesters sucked (1.85, 2.00, 1.5). My next three semesters: 2.84, 3.13, 3.57. My CGPA now is 2.57 with 11 credits. If I keep averaging around/above 3.5, will I have a chance at getting into uoft? I’m also looking to gain experience!

    ——————————————

    hello hello!

    i mostly deal in undergrad and am not a numbers person, but i looked into the munk school’s graduate PP program for you. looks like they require two different numbers:

    • your CGPA has to be at least a B
    • your GPA has to be at least a B+ in your final year

    as usual, the website includes the bit about how meeting this minimum requirement only makes you competitive, but doesn’t in any way guarantee admission.

    now, i am in no way the person you want doing your calculations, so i think it’s in both of our best interests to redirect ya. plug your numbers into this gpa calculator, including your prospective grades, and take a look at what it spits out. a B CGPA at u of t is a 3.0, and a B+ is 3.3, so those are the thresholds you’ll be looking to make. giving this a try will probably give you a better idea of what your chances are.

    hope this helped and all the best with your grad school admissions!

    cheers,

    aska

  • grad school,  math,  non degree

    brave potential grad student

    Hi Aska!

    I’m currently getting a computer science bachelors with a math minor from another Canadian university, and I want to apply for a masters in mathematics at uoft. I think my GPA is high enough but I’m not sure I have an “appropriate bachelors degree” and haven’t made connections with any of my math professors for letters of reference.

    So I changed my plan to:
    – apply as a non-degree student
    – take a year to do a bunch of math courses
    – get letters of reference from them
    – apply for masters
    – ???
    – profit

    I’ve also emailed the graduate unit to ask for application requirements, so I thought as long as I could get the specifics cleared, ie. what courses do I need to take to prove I can do a masters in math as a computer science undergrad? things would go smoothly. However, I was looking at this and it says that full-time non-degree special students need at least two letters of reference. Are non-degree special students the same thing as non-degree students? Does this mean I need reference letters to apply as a non-degree student? Am I basically screwed because I need letters of reference to get my letters of reference? If yes, do you know of any alternatives? I don’t want to do another bachelors but I’m not really sure how I can get in otherwise.

    ——————————————

    hi!

    when i got your email i was immediately delighted. i. LOVE. plans! alrighty, lets get down to business (to get you into a math masters at u of t) (which sounds absolutely terrifying you brave brave soul math sucks)

    shirtless disney GIF

    according to the math department’s graduate program’s minimum admission requirements (which i think you’ve already taken a look at, but i’m just gonna regurgitate some info for you here), applicants must hold an “appropriate bachelor’s degree” with a final year average of at least a B-average, at least three reference letters, a letter of intent, and a CV.

    as you mentioned, you aren’t sure if you have an “appropriate bachelor’s degree” nor do you think you have anyone who you could put down as a reference. in that case, applying to u of t as a non-degree student first in order to get some math credits under your belt/ meeting some profs for reference letters may be a good idea. the link that you had sent me is actually the info for applying as a non degree GRADUATE student, but if you wanted to just take some math courses in order to get into a masters program, you’d actually want to apply as a non-degree undergrad. you can check this link out for the application process, just scroll down to “non-degree applicants.” totally understand the confusion though, since you ultimately wanna be a grad student here.

    i also took a closer look at the master’s admission requirements. they list some informal “suggested prerequisites” in this pdf. while they do list u of t courses, they also say that “there is no fixed or rigid list of prerequisites” and they describe concepts and topics that you should be familiar with, rather than strict course equivalents. take a look through their suggested prereqs and see how many of the topics/ concepts that you have covered with your math minor. maybe you already have all the requirements fulfilled. it would probably be a good idea to get in contact with the math department directly for more information.

    so basically, tldr; you should look into applying as a non-degree undergrad student and look into the informal prereqs the math department has. then, decide your next move, whether that be coming as a non-degree student or applying for the grad program directly. it’s up to you!

    point pointing GIF by funk

    i hope this helps!

    xoxo,

    aska

  • grad school,  profs

    butter up your profs

    Hey aska,

    I am currently a 2nd year student at Uoft and I know that I want to pursue graduate studies in the future hence, I want to start building relationships with profs. But the problem is that I am a terribly shy person and I never speak up in class. I am also really afraid to go to office hours as I don’t really know what to speak to professors about (i usually don’t have much questions to ask them). Do you have any tips on how to overcome my shyness around profs? And how much do you think profs will need to know u in order to write a good letter of recommendation?

    ——————————————

    hi!

    as someone who self identifies as a “talkative keener” i have a lot of experience talking to (and buttering up) profs. let me pass down my wisdom to you.

    participating in class and going to office hours is the best way for profs to know/ remember you, but i totally understand how difficult and intimidating that can be. i personally find that it’s a lot easier to speak up and make a personal connection with a prof if the class is a lot smaller. smaller classes are usually a lot more discussion heavy, which (personally!) pushes me to participate more and talk to the prof directly. plus, it’s not a faux pas to participate in a smaller class, it’s actually an expectation! while it is a lot easier in some programs to find and take seminar classes (for example, i’m in the humanities and i’ve been in small classes since first year), i think that seeking out small classes about things that you’re interested in and profs that you like can be a good way to get profs to know you.

    going to office hours can be absolutely terrifying, i always feel like i’m in trouble and i’m to going to the principal’s office or something, but it’s a great way to develop a relationship with a prof. even if you’re not having issues with the class or there isn’t much of a reason to go, attending office hours just to talk about something that you found interesting about the course material or to chat up the prof about their research will really help them to remember who you are. also, it really butters ’em up.

    corny tamela mann GIF by TV One

    another way to get over shyness around profs is to work with them directly. seeking out research opportunities is a good way to get to really know a prof/ have a prof really know you. plus, research experience looks great on a CV, especially if you have grad school aspirations.

    these are my suggestions, based on my own personal experiences. you aren’t me (unless there’s a serious glitch in the simulation) so these things may not work for you. stepping outside of your comfort zone can be scary and it’s easy for me from my anonymous student blogger pedestal to tell you what to do. hopefully these tips help you out and you get a great reference out of one of your profs.

    design love GIF by lironrash

    good luck!

    xoxo,

    aska