• grad school


    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,


  • 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,



  • 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,


  • computer science,  grad school,  non degree


    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,
  • 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,


  • 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!



  • 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.



    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!



  • 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?



    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!



  • admissions,  grad school,  psychology

    psych! don’t really have an answer

    Hi there aska! I’m a psych major interested in eventually doing my masters in psych. Say for example I chose to do a thesis on women’s mental health, would I need to take courses related to my future area of specialization or is any psych course fine?



    you would have to check out the specific program’s prereqs. if you were thinking about pursuing your masters at u of t, you can check out this link. 

    otherwise, i can’t really help you. i don’t know what program you want to get into, so i can’t give you anything but very general advice. i would get in touch with the school or program that you’re interested in, ask them if there are any courses that they require you to have completed before, and see what the steps are from there.

    sorry i can’t be of more help.

     kiss flirting beso besos blow kiss GIF



  • admissions,  grad school

    masters of saving the environment

    Hi aska, I recently decided that it would be best to go to grad school. I was interested in UofT’s masters (specifically, forest conservation) program but need a min 3.0cGPA. I currently have a 2.6cGPA (hoping for 2.7-8 if all goes well), but by the time I graduate I would’ve been in school for 6/7years. With a low cGPA and years taken to graduate, is there anything I can do to strengthen my application? I’m worried I’ll never get in anywhere due to my low cGPA. Help!!



    first of all, the number of years it’s taken you to complete your degree doesn’t matter. in fact, if you want to have a more competitive GPA (and you have the resources to do so) you could even stay longer. if you’re hesitant to do another full year, you could do summer courses. of course, this comes with risks- you have to do well in the classes- but if you think you’re up for it and you’ve committed to going to grad school, i say go for it!

    there are also a ton of non- GPA requirements outlined on u of t’s masters of forest conservation website. they say that you need a CV, letter of intent, and three reference reports. i would suggest putting a lot of effort into those parts of the application to strengthen your shot. i would also suggest working extra hard on the letter of intent to really outline your passion, dedication, and appeal to the admissions committee.

    good luck, my dude. go and save the environment. i’m rooting for you.




  • admissions,  CR/NCR,  grad school,  late withdrawal,  OISE

    make your biggies small

    Hi, How bad is getting a 1.0 LWD and 0.5 NCR (both courses not related to the program I’ll be applying to and future career) in first year? I’m seriously considering applying to uoft’s grad school (masters of teaching). And what can I do to improve my chances in getting accepted into grad school during the three years I have left of undergrad? Thank you so much.



    i would say that it’s not really a big deal! you are allowed to withdraw from up to 3.0 FCE’s and CR/NCR up to 2.0 FCE’s throughout your undergrad as safety nets. especially since you’re only in first year and neither courses are related to your future program, it really is no biggie.

    as for getting into grad school, you need more than just good grades. i would suggest doing extra-curriculars that are related to teaching, like volunteering at elementary schools or working with children. i’d also suggest doing stuff with the profs in the programs that relate to what you wanna do- they can write you reference letters and really help you out when it’s time to apply for grad school.

    good luck!!



  • GPA,  grad school,  grades,  graduation,  undergrad

    don’t go

    Hello! I’ve tried looking for this answer but I can’t seem to find it. Is there a limit to how many years you can do to complete your undergrad? I’m on my 5th contemplating doing a 6th. I’m also hoping to change 1 of my majors as well. My GPA is terrible and am very slowly reaching the minimum requirement to graduate but I’m really starting to wonder if I should take another year instead. I feel like I would really regret leaving the school with the bare minimum GPA required since it’s so final


    hello there!

    there is no limit! you can take as long as you want to finish your undergrad. if you want to stay behind and boost your GPA, that’s perfectly fine. unless you’re an international student, then you’ll have to make sure you have the right visa allowances.

    you can definitely change one of your majors if you meet the requirements, you just have to do in within the appropriate program switching period.

    if you leave school with the bare minimum GPA, it might be hard for you to apply to grad schools (if that’s what you’re interested in). if you see more school in your future, it would be a good idea to stay behind to get a better GPA.

    it’s very common to take longer than 4 years to do your undergrad, so don’t worry about it!

    you got this!

    peace and love,