• enrollment,  keeners

    5 courses is already a lot for me lol

    Hi! Am I allowed to have only 4 FCE in my fourth and final year? I will have 21 FCE total if all goes well by the end of the fourth year. Basically, 5 FCE in my first year, 6 FCE in my second, 6 FCE in third, then 4 FCE in fourth, thus totaling 21. Stay safe and healthy bros. Sincerely, a stressed out freshie.


    hey there, stressed out freshie,

    even if you didn’t tell me, i would definitely know that you were at least a little bit stressed out with a plan like that.

    the short answer for you is that yes, you are allowed to only have 4.0 FCE in your fourth year! this is super common, and i am totally planning to do something like that for my final year at u of t.

    the one thing you should note is that taking 4.0 FCE will probably not save you anything in terms of tuition– this goshdarned school charges the same tuition if you’re taking anything between 4.0 or 6.0 FCE. or at least, i think that’s pretty standard. if you’re not in artsci, i would check that over with your registrar.

    here’s the longer answer i really want to give, though. apparently i consider myself an advice columnist without any of the glory.

    is there a specific reason you’re doing this to yourself? taking six courses can be really rough, and i fully respect your decision to do what’s best for you, but i want to make sure that you know what you’re getting into as you make these plans. i do have friends that have managed six courses all right, but none of them have taken that many consecutive semesters of six courses, and most of them don’t have any extracurriculars or responsibilities. u of t is an amazing, vibrant school, but it does demand a lot of you, especially if you want to do well in your classes and be involved outside the classroom. is there a specific reason you want to be taking 4.0 FCEs in your final year/21.0 FCEs total? is taking summer school going to be an option? can you play around on degree explorer and see if there’s a better way to plan out your courses?

    if you’re dead set on this four-year plan, i would really recommend that you book an appointment with an academic advisor at your registrar, just to make sure it’s really your best option and that you’re well-equipped to make it through.

    anyway, hope u stay safe and healthy too, bro. don’t stress too hard </3

    be Boundless,


  • enrollment,  enrolment,  keeners,  timetable

    keener alert

    hi! do you know when the timetable for courses is going to update? i’ve been wanting to plan out my classes for next year but i know the timetable isn’t going to be 100% accurate until it updates.


    hey there,

    to my understanding, there’s not really one comprehensive update for the timetable. u of t has too many departments and divisions that like to change things around at the last minute. they’ve probably already begun revamping the timetable for next year, but until it reads ‘2020-2021 fall & winter session timetable” instead of 2019-2020, i’d assume it’s fully unusable. especially with covid, we don’t necessarily know if classes are going to look the same next year. even in regular years, class times and offerings tend to change year to year.

    my guess is that by june-ish (late june??) that heading will update. perhaps it will update later this year if covid changes the way u of t will operate. regardless, it’s important to note that the heading update only indicates that the timetable is mostly accurate, not 100% solid. like i said, there might still be smaller updates after that. i wanna say that around…. mid july (?) is typically the best time to do course planning, because it’s when the timetable starts to settle down.

    right before my first year, i think i got on top of course planning several weeks before enrollment began. i also remember having to revise my course schedule several times, because a couple of things shifted and messed with the whole thing i had going on.

    happy season 7 GIF by MasterChef Junior

    i understand the desire to plan your courses out (it’s exciting!!) but i would advise against doing it too early, unless you’re willing to spend extra time revising your timetable should your course info change.

    i’d say the safest time to plan out your courses is just several days before your enrollment date, even though that might seem a bit tight. and then check over your course details one more time the morning of your enrollment day, to be super super sure nothing has changed.

    be Boundless,


  • co-op,  co-op management,  keeners,  management,  management,  UTM

    fOLLoW yOur HeaRT, [redacted]

    Hi this is [redacted]. I am sorry for contacting you but I am too desperate to get an answer for some of the questions that I have regarding UTM management and UTM commerce haha. Hope you would not mind:)

    I was recently accepted to study management at UTM in the upcoming Fall. I love the course and all that it has to offer but I can’t help thinking that there are better options such as Rotman Commerce, or even just UTM Commerce. I have been looking through Reddit post and people are saying that UTM Management is just not that impressive and is a low-risk low return kind of course. There are also no PEY or co-op for this course but the one thing that I really want to do at Uoft is to get a lot of internships/work experience during my college life. However I do not think UTM Management can provide me as much experience when compared with Rotman commerce/ UTM commerce. The only specializations that UTM management offered are Human Resources management and management which is very broad. On the other hand, The commerce program leads to specializations in accounting, finance, and marketing which are more employable than just pure management or pure commerce.

    I understand that I will have to do Management at UTM for my first year. But may I know is it easy to transfer to UTM commerce after first year? I also did not take any Calculus course in high school but I might consider getting tutorial on Calculus (not summer school/night school) before attending UTM. Now I was looking at your previous response and you mentioned that ‘MAT133Y5 recommends that you’ve already completed high school calculus (with at least a 70%) before taking the course.’ I do believe that I have a solid math background but I am not familiar with calculus, do you think tutor can help me get prepared for the course?

    Apart from that, is there anything that I need to look into before thinking about transferring from UTM management to UTM commerce? Or are there actually any advantage of studying Management over Commerce? My ultimate goal is basically just to work at a large company with a decent salary and nothing much. Will UTM management be able to give me that opportunity or will other courses provide a better prospect for my future career? Really sorry that I have so many questions. I am just pretty excited but also kind of worried that I am missing out on better opportunities. Just want to get a clearer picture of everything and I hope you would not mind giving me some guidance and suggestions. Thank you very much for your precious time!! (Love what you are doing btw:)))


    hey there,

    not gonna lie– i get kind of overwhelmed when people send me questions longer than medieval love letters. please don’t ever apologize for contacting me, though! this is what i do. just means i gotta break the question down a lil. let’s see what we got.

    is it easy to transfer to UTM commerce after first year?

    easy enough. in fact, i dunno if you’re aware of this, but you’re not actually a management student in first year. you’ve probably been admitted to a stream (management first-year admissions is my guess) with instructions to take certain courses; upon completing those courses in first year, you’ll then be eligible for admission to the actual management program. u of t runs using a POSt system, which stands for Program Of Study; all this means is that first years aren’t really in a major/minor/progam until they qualify, apply, and get accepted at the end of their first year.

    i’d check this over with the utm registrar to be safe, but as far as i’m aware, all you need to do to switch into commerce is take the commerce prerequisites and meet the grade threshold. you can find that info here. if you’re certain you want to be in commerce, you can probably take those prereqs right off the bat (instead of your management ones) to save you the trouble of switching over later on. but like i said, please confirm this with the registrar’s office! in my experience it’s been easy enough to switch around, but i don’t know if the programs you’re interested in have any quirks.

    can a tutor help you get prepped for calc?

    you are correct that calculus is important for MAT133Y5. i can’t give you a straight answer as to whether a tutor would be helpful– wouldn’t it depend on the quality of the tutor and the material you cover? i think in general, it would definitely be better than no calculus experience whatsoever. university math classes are pretty rough, and i would not advise you to enter into one without calculus. the best approach would probably be to have your tutor cover the calculus and vectors curriculum outlined in this pdf, and make sure you have all those concepts down. if you scroll down to page 101, you’ll see the curriculum i’m referring to.

    is there anything that you need to look into before transferring to UTM commerce?

    like i said, just check in with your registrar!

    are there actually any advantage of studying Management over Commerce?

    i am not an expert on this.

    i’d say someone at the department would know– maybe you could try contacting the academic advisor? the advice i, personally, can give you is simple: follow your heart, as cheesy as that sounds, and don’t trust everything you read on the internet. if i had believed every single redditor i came into contact with in high school, i would not have ended up at u of t. i’d say it’s more important to pursue your interests and excel at them than it is to drag your feet into a program that an internet stranger said was better. so that’s my take.

    you didn’t directly ask these questions, but you seemed to want guidance on it. out of the generosity and benevolence of my heart, i’ll cover them: 

    • can you get PEY and co-op opportunities in management? 

    it actually seems like the UTM management program offers a fourth-year internship course, MGT480H5, that will give you the kind of hands-on experience you seem to be hoping for. whether you’re in management or commerce, you’ll also be eligible for a new program (launching in fall! wow!). it’s called the certificate in effective business practices and leadership skills. details are here, should you be interested. if you’re admitted to the certificate, you’ll get to take part in a 4-month paid work placement, on top of other certificate requirements. fun stuff! ‘

    • will you end up at a large company with a decent salary?

    haha bold of you to assume climate change won’t getcha first

    all in all, though, i’m really glad you’re excited and looking into your options! best of luck with it all, and you know where to find me if you have any other questions. hope this was helpful.

    be Boundless,


  • admissions,  applying for U of T,  art,  getting into U of T,  keeners,  Uncategorized

    let me in already

    Hi oki so im in grade 12 and i applied for the art and art history course around a month ago, but all of my friends who applied to different colleges and universities are now getting acceptances, so like I guess my question is is how long does it take for the applications to be reviewed and to get a response? Cause all I have so far is a letter saying “thanks for applying” and a “pending review” so I’m kind of worried.


    hey hey!

    i’m assuming you applied to UTM, yeah? or at least i can only find one art & art history program, which is a joint one with sheridan. two schools for the same buck. and they’re both sane campuses that close when the godforsaken floodgates of heaven decide to open and turn toronto into the depths of siberia.

    chelsea peretti wtf GIF by Brooklyn Nine-Nine

    mmmm, utsg can’t relate. i want a snow day that doesn’t begin in the late afternoon. but i digress.

    when you’ll hear back from u of t depends on where you’re attending school right now! if you’re from ontario, the UTM website indicates that there are three rounds of offers in february, march, and may.

    however, if you attend school elsewhere– whether that’s in canada or otherwise– admission looks a little different. officially the rounds are the same, but some decisions are released as early as january, which is before the february document deadline.  so for some reason if you wait til the deadline to send your documents in, they probably won’t consider you til the last round in may.

    if it’s not the UTM program you went for and you mean the st. george art history program, that falls under the faculty of arts and science so the timeline should be about the same.

    nothing to worry about, is the bottom line. it’s only halfway through february, so really the first round of admissions have only just begun. obviously i have no idea how long it’ll take the school to review your specific application. they’re sorting through piles of stuff right now, and i bet they wish they could get through it faster, too.

    man, i remember how long it could feel, waiting to hear back when it seemed everyone else was already getting news from their schools. hang in there. your time will come.

    over n out,


  • admissions,  applying for U of T,  keeners,  music

    kids these days

    Hello I’m a grade 11 student stressing about post secondary. I am interested in the music program at uoft but am scared that my grades are not good enough because 2 of them are were mid-high 80s. Should I be concerned?



    jeez, are you saying that your two LOWEST marks are mid-high 80s? wow. kids these days.

    so, i scoured the internet for information re: admission requirements for the faculty of music. according to this link, they don’t list any academic grade averages. they do, however, say that you need to have completed RCM level 8 theory with at least a 60%.

    there are also other requirements that you need for the music faculty, but i can’t really tell you what the specific requirements are because you haven’t told me what program specifically you’re interested in! kids these days.

    the rock eye roll GIF by WWE

    anyways, you can check out the faculty of music’s application info page to see what the specific requirements are for the program you’re interested in.

    hope this helps! good luck, catherine keener!

    judd apatow comedy GIF



  • arts & sciences,  choosing,  computer science,  courses,  keeners,  math,  programs

    compsci conundrum

    I am planning on attending UTSC (but I think this question should be
    applicable to the other campuses) this September, and I am looking for
    advice on whether I should aim for a major + 2 minor or (software
    engineering) specialist program in Computer Science.

    I am leaning towards the major + 2 minor option for the following reasons:

    The specialist program requires some additional courses that I think would
    make it more difficult than the major. For example, it requires both Linear
    Algebra II and Intro to Probability, whereas the major program let’s you
    choose one of them. Another math course that is required is Calculus of
    Several Variables I, which just sounds terrifying. And I know that math is
    important in CS, but, I am only okay in math (ended with 83 in functions
    because trig killed me [I probably wouldn’t have done that well on it in
    the first place, but I planned poorly for other subjects, and so did not
    have time to study for the unit test]; calc seems much more interesting,
    though), and so I would like to skip some of these math courses.
    Additionally, I am not sure how useful or hard some of the additional CS
    courses like Intro to Numerical Algorithms for Computational Mathematics or
    Computability and Computational Complexity will be—they all seem very
    abstract and not-practical.

    Another reason I want the major + 2 minor is that I would get two minors. I
    am taking Writer’s Craft this year and have realized that I quite enjoy
    creative writing. It just so happens that UTSC offers a minor program under
    English called Creative Writing. I think taking this minor alongside the CS
    major would be a great way to lessen the workload and pursue something I
    enjoy, while also pursing something else I enjoy that can actually earn me
    money. Having only math and theory-based CS courses besides a small number
    of electives is not too appealing to me. I realize that those courses are
    better than practical programming courses in the long-run, but having them
    make up the vast majority of my degree seems a bit painful. I don’t have a
    solid pick for a second minor yet, but I don’t think it would be hard for
    me to choose one (linguistics and food science are top contenders).

    Here, then, are reasons I might want to go the specialist route:

    I’m special.

    I think some of the courses the specialist has you take would be pretty
    beneficial. For example, since my goal is to get a job as a programmer, the
    courses that seem to teach you how to do stuff in a real-world environment
    like Intro to Software Engineering and Engineering Large Software Systems
    could really be useful, and I might be missing out if I opt for the major.
    There are also a few other courses like Programming on the Web and Intro to
    Databases which could add to my skill set and make me more marketable for
    co-op and post-post-secondary jobs. I am of course just predicting how
    valuable these courses might be form their names and descriptions alone;
    that’s why I’m asking you! The major program only allows you to take 1
    credit of additional C/D-level (300/400-level) CS courses, which means
    missing out on some potentially useful courses. I am guessing that it is
    not possible to take more as electives, but is it?

    My minors will probably also not help at all with my future career; I would
    only be taking them to lessen the amount of math/CS courses and increase
    the amount of enjoyable courses. Is that a bad thing to do?

    So, to conclude, do you think the benefits for taking the specialist
    program (additional useful courses) outweighs the cons (more un-fun
    courses; less fun courses)? Both choices aid the mind, but in different
    ways (i.e. one probably reduces chances of suicide).

    Thank you and sorry for the long message; I wanted to make my points clear



    i began penning a response to this question that went a little something like: “just go with your gut! it seems like you’re leaning towards the major and two minors option! why not pursue that?”, but upon further reflection, i’ve decided that we need to rewind a little, if that’s okay with you.

    (just so you know, i’m not a computer science student, nor have i taken any computer science classes and i’m just as confused as you are about these programs. i’m speaking only as a seasoned upper year student)

    before i start ripping into you, (it’s going to happen, i’m sorry) kudos to you for thinking this hard about what program you want to get into. it’s clear you’ve put a lot of thought into this, which is great. this response isn’t supposed to make you feel bad- i just want to bring you back to earth a little.

    so, first- you’ve made some serious assumptions on what these courses are going to be like. i can tell you from experience that i’ve made assumptions based on course names and have been incredibly wrong. classes also vary pretty dramatically depending on the instructor.

    *askastorytime* i took a class called urban geography, planning, and political processes. i thought was going to be super difficult and intense, but it ended up being super chill. for our final project, we created a zine and performed a rap for the class. for our group presentation, i contributed a sick drum beat and didn’t even utter a single word. moral of the story: do not judge courses by their names. linear algebra is probs super easy. (i’m kidding. math is never easy. math is very hard. we mustn’t joke about math.)

    your assumptions that some classes are “abstract”, “non-practical” or “terrifying” are all based on the course name. the truth is, every program at u of t will require a great deal of hard work. sure, easy courses exist, but transitioning from high school to first year is a huge challenge and you need to take that into account. picking the major and two minors option over a specialist program doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be choosing the ‘easier route’. like i’ve said in previous posts, it really depends on how deep you want to get into a subject. a major and two minors allows you to explore a larger variety of subjects whereas a specialist will let you dig deep into one subject. which option are you more interested in?

    while the university does have a breadth requirement which encourages us to take courses outside of our faculty, personally, if i were to choose two minors that were completely unrelated to my major, i feel like i would have lots of difficulty focusing on each one and feel like a scatterbrain. for others who are better at multitasking and switching between subjects easily, a major and two minors is perfect! it really depends on what kind of person you are. can you turn your computer science mind off and jump right into phonetics and phonology if you need to? you’ll have to test that out in your first year! p.s. don’t forget to take a moment to check out the requirements for your potential minors and their different application requirements.

    that being said, from what i’ve heard, computer science is extremely math heavy. there is no easy way out. you have been warned.

    for now, i think you should try picking courses that are prerequisites for the general computer science programs (if you are sure about pursuing computer science), and see how you feel about them. fear not, the utsc calendar literally says that it’s not meant to be difficult to switch between different streams within computer science.

    you have plenty of time to discuss your options with an academic advisor as well! you can also talk to the program supervisor for computer science if you have more specific questions about the available compsci programs.

    i’d also encourage you to reach out to current or past computer science alumni to get some different perspectives on how they chose their programs. hearing other people’s thought processes might help you figure out what you’re looking for!

    hey, if doing programming for your whole undergrad sounds terrible for you, maybe computer science isn’t the right program for you. your first year is meant for you to explore and discover what courses you like. you don’t even necessarily need to get into your program by second year if you still don’t know what to do after your first year.

    so in conclusion, specialist courses won’t necessarily be more useful in the long run, and if the idea of specializing in software engineering doesn’t sound colourful enough for you, maybe the major and two minor option will be better for you! again, you really need to take some university level classes to see what it’s really like here. don’t judge a book by its cover, yo.

    good luck with your decision, i hope you choose a program you like!

    peace and love,


  • applying for U of T,  gap year,  intake,  keeners,  UTSC

    we got ourselves a catherine keener

    Hi, i graduated high school in June 2016 and I decided to take a gap year before I attend university. Hence,I will be applying to utsc for entry into September 2017. If I do get admitted into my program will I be able to at least take my electives during summer 2017? I’d really like to get a head start since i did take time off from school due to unforeseen circumstances.
    Thank you for your times and hope to hear from you soon!



    first of all, i totally understand your desire to get a head start. the sooner you’re done with school, the better. (at least that’s how i’ve always felt)

    unfortunately, first year intake at U of T is always in september. to my understanding, starting first year during the summer has only been granted in very unique circumstances, but is highly discouraged and “rarely entertained”.

    one of the main reasons for this is that transitioning from high school to first year is a big jump and getting settled into university is such an important aspect of the whole university experience. the university will have orientation events (not just frosh week) in september to help you adjust along with your peers. you’ll definitely understand what i mean once you start in september.

    furthermore, i imagine the whole process of petitioning for early intake would be extremely arduous and just not worth it. summer courses also generally move at a faster pace and it would be an even bigger jump to go from high school straight into university summer courses. since i’m saying all of this, it might seem like summer intake is actually an option, but it really isn’t.

    trust me on this one, september intake is the way to go. you’ll find a lot more support from both campus resources as well as friends you meet during frosh.

    just make sure you apply by january 13th and if all goes well, you’ll be set to start in september!

    ^this is an amazing song, by the way.

    i hope this cleared up some of your questions! best of luck with your application!



  • admissions,  applying for U of T,  keeners,  lost

    vague and subjective question

    Hello Aska!! I know you hate vague and subjective questions, so I’ll apologize in advice for what I’m about to ask. Sorry! I’m the definition of indecisive, so I have come to you. I’m a senior in high school and there are only two goals I have: 1. Go to UofT 2. Get a high paying job. Now this may be a fool’s dream, but what can I say? Anyway, I have only taken data as my one uni math course, but my English marks are always spectacular. What should I do in UofT?-


    hello there,

    just to clarify, i only despise questions that demand answers to things that i couldn’t possibly know, like “am i going to get in if i have this grade in this class?” or “i submitted this thing a while ago, why haven’t i heard back? this is my student number. pls help.”

    if you just want a second opinion (or the opinion of a relatively jaded undergrad student) i’m your person!

    see, you say you’re indecisive, but you clearly know what you want. you know that you want to go to U of T and that you want dem dolla dolla billz. ’tis not a fool’s dream. ’tis everyone’s dream.

    i’m not going to outright tell you what you should study. (astrophysics. that is what you should do. it’s super easy.) i know nothing about you, but i can tell by your question that you think you’ll get paid more if you study a program that requires math. it’s great that your english marks are spectacular, but what do you really want to do? you may be good at english, but do you enjoy it? do you have a passion for literature?

    on the other hand, are you going to be happy in a program that requires math? do you even like math? (ew who likes math)

    once you get your undergrad degree, are you thinking of pursuing grad school?

    you might feel like i’m not helping since i’m throwing more questions at you, but these are questions that you should really consider.

    you’re a young’un. at this point in your life, as a senior in high school, the possibilities are truly endless. there are so many different paths you could take. don’t be afraid to choose a path different than the one you imagined yourself taking. heck, for the longest time, i hadn’t even considered coming to U of T for university.

    *aska storytime*

    when i started 12th grade, i actually had my heart set on a university in my hometown. i went on a campus tour, located the nearest mcdonalds, and found pretty much every starbucks on campus. i was so ready.

    everything changed when all my friends were applying to schools in the east. i felt some hardcore fomo and decided to apply to U of T, just for the heck of it. i didn’t think i would get in, but i did!

    the moral of this story is, i didn’t end up walking down the path that i thought i would, and things still worked out amazingly well in the end.

    *end of aska storytime*

    dolla dolla billz are definitely important to take into account, but you need to remember that lots of employment opportunities come from knowing the right people. the most valuable piece of advice i could give you right now is to get as much work/ volunteer experience as you can. maintain professionalism and consistency in everything you do. as a result, you’ll have great references and people will be more likely to recommend you for other jobs.

    in conclusion: don’t think about your program of study with your potential future income in mind! there are so many things that can happen along the way which can shape what your future turns out to be. your eventual failure or success won’t have had anything to do with this one choice you made in university. but if you don’t like what you’re studying, you’ll dread every class you sit through, and you won’t want to go to class. trust me, i know what it’s like.

    anyways, i’ll end my rant here, but i just want you to know:

    i hope you choose something you love. best of luck to you!



  • 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.



  • first year,  GPA,  hard,  keeners

    200-level courses are tuff


    I’m a first year student in the faculty of arts science, i’ve received credits for most of the courses required to get in to my program of choice ( immunology and molecular genetics microbiology ) so i’ve taken mostly second year courses, being-MAT137Y, PHL100Y, BIO230H, BIO220, BCH210, CIN211H, MGY200H and IMM250. How difficult will these courses be and would it be difficult to get a 3.5+ GPA ?



    hey there,

    instead of just repeating my ramble about the ambiguity of the term “difficult,” i’ll just direct you to the “hard” tag. you can read my thoughts on your question about how difficult it is to get a 3.5+ GPA there.

    oh, but i will say this: only about 15% of students get on the dean’s list, which is a list of students whose CGPA is at 3.50 or higher. that number isn’t ultimately helpful or instructive, because how can you know where you’ll fall within the spectrum of students before you’re in it? but it is something to chew in, if you’re the kind of person who likes HARD DATA and FACTS.

    as for taking 200-level courses: if you have transfer credits for BIO120 and 130, CHM138 and 139, then, theoretically, you should be prepared for those 200-level courses.

    however, academic levels don’t take into account a lot of the things that could affect your academic performance in first year. making new friends, navigating a new campus, adjusting to a weekly schedule that is vastly different from that of most high schools, and getting used to the pace of university courses all takes energy. usually, it takes more energy than most first-year students anticipate – energy that, in other years, would be going towards your classes.

    so even if you are technically “prepared,” academically speaking, the 200-level courses may be more difficult than you expect. while some 200-level courses may build on knowledge that you already have, or even be introductory courses, they assume that students are already used to the pace of a university course, and that’s the trickiest part.

    university courses move a lot faster than high school level courses – even AP and IB courses. something that you spent a week on in a grade 12 calculus could be condensed to an hour-long lecture in a university class, for example.

    all that being said, i’m not saying you shouldn’t enrol in them. you can always enrol in the courses and give them a shot. if you find that they’re too difficult, you can always drop them before the deadline to drop courses.

    you may want to consider taking fewer 2nd-year courses than you are right now. you may, for example, want to start off with two or three half-credit 200-level courses. if you find you’re doing well with those, you can add a few more in your second semester. i find that it’s always easier to chew off a little and add more gradually, than to chew off too much and try to scale back later.

    so…do what you want, basically. but do it cautiously. and always feel free to have a chat with your college registrar’s office if you need more advice or want to mull it over with someone in person.

    good luck with it!


  • grad school,  keeners

    undergrad can’t contain this level of keen

    Hey aska, I’m wondering if you know anything about taking graduate courses as an undergrad student? I can’t seem to find anything 300 or 400 level to take and I’m wondering if I should expand into the grad courses. Thank you!!


    hey there,

    wow, what a keener. good for you, my friend. personally, i wish i could take a couple kindergarten courses as an undergrad. that’d really boost my GPA.

    you definitely need to find some 300- and 400-level courses that pique your interest, ’cause you probably can’t entirely replace your 3rd and 4th years with grad school courses.

    however, it may be possible for you to take one or two grad school courses, if you can get permission from the department. depending on your GPA, and whether you can get permission from the instructor of the course(s) you’re after, you could be allowed to take a couple.

    just submit this form from the FAS to the department(s) that sponsors the course(s), and cross your fingers! for my part, i hope your wish to take grad courses is granted, and that i can find my way back to Mrs. Smith’s Junior Kindergarten room, where i truly belong.


  • keeners,  UTSC

    a tangled, tangled web of degree requirements

    how long do you think it would take to complete a Philosophy/History double major at UTSC if you took courses every summer? Just wondering 🙂


    hey there,

    i know y’all think this is like a super easy question to answer, but there are so many variables involved that it’s actually almost impossible. so, let’s unpack this and find out, together, just how complicated this is.

    1. both the history and philosophy majors require 7.0 FCEs – 14.0 FCEs total; simple enough, right?

    WRONG. history and philosophy are close/flexible enough disciplines that you can probably have a bit of overlap between courses (i.e. take credits that fulfil requirements for both POSts). however, you have to keep in mind the 12.0 distinct credits rule when entertaining the possibility of overlap – only 2.0 FCEs out of a double major worth 14.0 credits can overlap.

    so your two majors could take anywhere between 12.0 – 14.0 FCEs to complete. already, we’ve got some uncertainty. but it gets worse.

    2. in a degree at UTSC, you’ll need to fulfil the breadth requirements. that’ll take 2.5 credits altogether, however, some of the credits that fulfil the breadth requirements will likely fulfil your major requirements, as well.

    meaning you’ll have take anywhere between 0.0-2.5 FCEs on TOP of your major requirements to meet the breadth req’s.

    so already – assuming you don’t have to late withdraw from a course, and that you pass every course you take – we’re looking at anywhere between 12.0-16.5 FCEs.

    of course, you need at least 20.0 FCEs to graduate, but depending on how many credits it takes you to complete those requirements (i haven’t even factored in the requirement that both history and philosophy have that you take a certain number of upper-year FCEs – that could up your credit count, too), you may have to take more than 20.0 FCEs.

    as you can see, this is getting nightmarishly complicated. let’s just assume nothing goes wrong, your plans won’t change, and it’ll take you 20.0 FCEs on the dot to complete your degree.

    how long would it take if you took courses every summer? well, that depends. how many courses are you planning on taking  here we have another ambiguity. let’s just assume you were to take the expected full-time course load – 2.5 FCEs – every term.

    20.0 FCEs/2.5 FCEs per term = 8 terms.

    8 terms/3 terms per year = 2.66 years. you would finish in june of your third year. which – i believe – means you would be able to request a june graduation.

    so there’s your short answer, but as you can see, things are never as simple as they first appear. uoft is good at teaching that lesson.



  • admissions,  keeners

    grade 11 is just a void in everyone’s mind

    Does u of t st george look at gr 11 marks for conditional acceptance ?


    hey there,

    you’re about four months early for this. people were throwing this question at me left, right and centre in october of last year. but hey, i’m never one to criticize an early bird. i am one to complain about them, though. complaining’s my speciality, doncha know.

    but okay: you’re nervous, you want to know what you’re getting yourself into before you get into it. fair enough. the most succinct answer to this question is: sometimes (or, in uoft’s phraseology: “[s]econdary school applicants with strong midyear results may be admitted on condition that they complete their academic year successfully,” ‘may’ being the tricky/operative word here).

    they look at what they can get, and if you’re applying quite early on in the year (you haven’t even finished the first semester of grade 12, say) then they may consider your grade 11 marks for early admission. later on, they may also consider them in conjunction with your grade 12 marks.

    HOWEVER i can’t say how important grade 11 marks are in your overall application, how they will stack up compared to everyone else applying, how important they are versus your grade 12 marks, etc. etc. so DON’T ASK. please.

    point is this: if you’re not finished grade 11 yet, do your best, because it does matter. but if you’ve already finished and are heading into grade 12, don’t worry, because your grade 12 marks also matter and can help boost your chances. ultimately, the final admission decision is based on your top six 4U/M marks, so if your grade 11 marks were less than awesome, make sure you do everything you can to get those ones up to scratch.

    best of luck with your last stretch of high school,