• keeners

    first years getting ahead of themselves

    Hey aska! I am going into first year in September and am planning to do a criminology major in second year. They require 2 FCE’s in ECO/POL/HIS/PHL/SOC/PSY so I plan to take SOC100Y and PSY101H and PSY220H in first year. I was wondering: it is advisable to take a second year course in first year? Will it be too much of a reach in terms of difficulty? As well, what are the chances I even get into that course sinceΒ I’m not in its enrollment category? Should I have a backup plan (I hate backup plans)?

    Thanks so much for answering my question! Have a great day. πŸ™‚


    hey there,

    learn to love backup plans, my friend. uoft course enrolment is a messy affair, and even if you’re in the enrolment category, it’s possible – maybe even likely – that you won’t end up in all the courses you want.

    you have a chance getting into a course if you’re not in the enrolment category, but i don’t know how good that chance is. it all depends on the popularity of the course and the number of total spaces in the course (which you can see on ROSI). psych courses tend to be pretty popular generally speaking, but there are two lecture sections for PSY220H1, so i wouldn’t give up yet.

    regardless, i would come up with a Plan B just in case. better to have one and not use it than the other way around – i know that from personal experience.*

    as to whether you should even take the class: the difference between 100-level and 200-level classes is not huge. if you take PSY100H1 in first semester and do well, then you’re okay to take PSY220H1 in second semester. since one is a prereq of the other, it only makes sense to take them consecutively.



    * *war flashbacks*

  • keeners

    skipping ahead

    Hello! I am a second year student, currently signed up for three third year classes! I was wondering if the difference between second and third year classes is super killer, and if it’s a bad idea to jump ahead like that. Thanks!


    hey there,

    it depends on the classes. also, do you mean three third year classes as in 1.5 FCEs, or 3.0? either way, that’s…pretty ambitious.

    the major difference between second and third year is that there are (usually) no tutorials. no tutorials, but the same amount of class time. that means the pace is twice as fast, and you have no opportunity to hash things out in a tutorial environment the way you might be used to.

    if you’re a science student, it might be a bit easier. if you’ve already completed the prerequisites and done well in them, then presumably you have the knowledge base necessary to go ahead in those classes. however, it will still move more quickly, and the tests and examinations tend to be less multiple choice and more involved and analytical. if you haven’t been transitioned into that, it could be a harsh shock.

    ultimately, some people can handle it, and some can’t. you kind of have to be honest with yourself about how well you did in first year and how much work you’re comfortable with. if you do that, i think you’re going to make the right decision for you.



  • english,  keeners

    so you think you’re all that and a bag of chips huh

    Hello! Are 300-level English courses considerably more difficult than 200-level English courses? I just finished my first year and I’d really like to take ENG353Y if some of the 200-level courses I’m interested are full. Thanks!


    hey there,

    the thing about first and second year is that the classes usually have tutorials where the lecture material is broken down in small groups. with tutorials, you get two passes at every lesson – one with the prof, one with the TA.

    ENG353Y1, as you can see, doesn’t have any tutorials. in a class like that, you’ll be expected to be much more independent than in a 100- or 200-level course. your essays will be longer and more intensive, and there’ll be a higher level of quality expected as well.

    that said, if you meet the prerequisites and you feel like you did really well in the first-year English courses you took, then who am i to say that you can’t do it? if you’re just thinking about taking one 300-level class, and you did very well in first year, it could be manageable.

    contact the english department if you’d like to discuss this further with an expert, but that’s aska’s humble opinion. ((if you fail the class you can’t sue me.))

    best of luck with your ambitions,


  • first year,  keeners,  textbooks

    the internet can help you buy books wow amazing.

    Hi aska~

    I was just thinking about application to different universities and I was looking at the text books needed for each course. Would you know the titles of textbooks needed for first-year business/commerce (I can’t tell them apart) course?

    Thanks! It would be a big help…


    hey there,

    Basically, it’s a lot more complicated and time-consuming than you could ever imagine. But at the end of the day, it works, and it’s actually not that hard to do all on your own when you’ve figured out the system. So don’t fret, little pet.

    I don’t know what the deal is at other universities, but here at UofT, the bookstore, starting sometime in late August, can tell you exactly what books you need for all your courses by taking your course list from ROSI, which contains your student account. All you do is click on the ‘Find your textbooks’ button on the right side of the homepage, enter your UTORID and password, and it takes you to a list of all your textbooks. Internet magic!

    However, this all becomes possible only a couple of weeks before school actually starts, once you’re actually a student here. If you’re applying for September 2014, you can go to the UofT bookstore yourself and see what books are being used this year (they’re organized by course), but it’s not guaranteed that those same books will be used next year.

    Honestly, I’d say it’s too early for you to be worrying about textbooks (just enjoy the freedom of not having to drop half a grand on them yet, seriously), but if you really want to get a feel for what they’ll be using next year, just have a browse in the UofT bookstore.

    Good luck, amigo, and I hope you find some meaningful use for the ridiculous amount of money you will soon be spending.


  • arts & sciences,  first year,  keeners,  undergrad

    two in one


    As an upcoming student to UofT, I was wondering if taking 200 courses as a first year would be too difficult. In the orientation they had mentioned that yes, since there were no pre-requites for some of the 200 courses, it was obviously possible, but not recommended (and of course the usual “But if you really want it, then by all means…) However, I would like to hear such information/reflections/opinions from the mouth of a student instead of an instructor.



    p.s. I’m planning to take some 200 courses in English and Political Science.



    as course selection dawns, i was wondering if taking a second year course in first year would prove to difficult. I want to take geography, but of the two half courses i want, one (GGR124H1) interferes with another mandatory course. I thought I could take GGR216H1 (Global Cities) instead (no prerequistits). Do you think this would be manageable? Or is this just my eager, first year brain trying too hard?
    yours faithfully



    Dear MD and faithful, if unnamed, asker,

    Well, course selection has past dawned. in fact, since August 9th has passed and program-based priority has been removed for course enrolment, I’d say we’re at high noon. But since more than one of you asked about whether doing a few second year courses in first year is too difficult, let’s take a stab at it!

    While you may have felt discouraged from trying your hand at upper level courses, the truth is it’s totally normal to take second and even third year courses in your first year, as long as you’re following all of the rules around pre-requisites or language requirements. There are a few reasons it’s actually a pretty swell idea, especially for humanities and social sciences students, whose program tracks might not be quite as strict as science and professional subjects.

    Firstly, first year courses can be dishearteningly huge in any discipline. we’re talking hundreds of students in some lectures. Unless you were lucky enough to have gotten your foot into a one of those quaint first year seminars, which are under 25 students, taking upper year courses is a good way to remind yourself that in the years to come, courses will be smaller and, if you’re extra good, professors might even learn your name.

    Similarly, first year courses sometimes can be a bit broad, repetitive, and, dare I say it, too easy. For go-getters like yourselves, you’ll look forward to having a more focused and more challenging class in the middle of what can be a slow schedule. Second year courses are also much more likely to be half-year courses, meaning you can get away with taking a wider variety of courses in your first year. This might be preferable to getting tired of your full-year courses by December with no end in sight.

    Lastly, unless you’ve planned out courses for your whole degree already, taking a few 200- or 300-level courses your first year is good insurance against using up your 100 level credits. Students at U of T are only able to put a maximum of 6.00 100-level credits towards your degree. If you use 5.0 of those your first year, and then realize that you need to take 2.0 more 100-level courses to get where you need to be for your major or minor Subject POSt requirements, you’ll have to give up some of those other 100-levels. And nobody likes to give up hard work! Worse, it doesn’t occur to some international students (read: me) that a lot of those high school AP credits that transfer into your degree transfer as 100-level credits already.



  • keeners,  psychology

    do the right thing, brainiac

    Hey aska,

    So I’m in my 4th year, going on 5th (because the Major-Changing-Gods smiled upon me greatly at UofT) BUT:
    I am wondering what you have to do to get an honors thesis if you are only in the Psych Major and not the Specialist?

    I know they say you have to get into a thesis class but I don’t think that’s on the regular calendar. Also why are they excluding us poor majors from all the cool Specialist stuff? Lastly, do you still graduate the major with honors if you do not do an honors thesis?

    Thanks a lot,
    Major(ly) Psych(ed)


    Dear Major(ly) Psych(ed)

    Cute name! Askastudent loves it when people give themselves nicknames. It’s the little things that count.

    According the 2011/2012 calendar (ooh it’s so fresh and shiny), the Psychology Major requires the following:

    First Year: PSY100H1
    After PSY100:

    1. Statistics: PSY201H1/ECO220Y1/ECO227Y1/GGR270H1/HMB325H1/SOC202H1/STA220H1/STA250H1
    2. Two of PSY210H1, PSY220H1, PSY230H1, PSY240H1 (Cluster A) and two of PSY260H1, PSY270H1, PSY280H1, PSY290H1 (Cluster B)
    3. Four half-courses (2 FCEs) at the 300+-level from Group 1 below, with at least one half-course from each of Clusters A and B
    4. one 400-level half-course (.5 FCE) from Group 1 below, Cluster A or B
    5. 1.5 FCEs from Groups 1 and/or 2 below

    I don’t see anything about an honors thesis, which seems more streamlined for the Psychology Research Specialist, which you can get into by applying into a PSY lab course in third year.

    My advice is that you be proactive about this. If you want to do an honors thesis, contact the professor you like the best in the Psychology Program and see if you can do one. Contact the Psychology Students Association and ask for their advice. There’s no reason that your major in Psych should stop you from seeking the opportunities for research that you so crave. (And that will certainly improve your application for graduate school, if you are so inclinded.)

    I also see that the “research” tab of the Psych website lists a bunch of profs studying highly specific facets of interest. Maybe you could find a match by perusing those categories?

    My point is that if you want an opportunity to happen, sometimes you have to go about making it happen yourself. Sans honors thesis, you will still graduate with honors (because everyone in Arts and Science graduates with honors – hooray!), but do the honourable thing, and go after what you want while you can.

    Hope that helps!

    xoxo, Askastudent

  • keeners,  second degree

    Tis the season to get multiple degress fa lalalala la lalala

    hey aska,
    can I enroll in 2 degrees at once? I am in a compsci and lifesci post right now but I really want to do philosophy as well. I know I can complete a bachelor of science and then come back for a bachelor of arts, but is there a way to enroll in and complete requirements for 2 degrees at once!?




    Technically you’re completing two degrees by double majoring in compsci and lifesci.
    BUT I have the feeling that you’re talking about having multiple diploma’s hanging in your, doctor’s office … computer lab … uhhh philosophy cave? And in that case, no, you can’t.
    If I have you wrong and this is about the knowledge, you could major in one subject, and minor in the other two.

    Love dearly,

  • keeners,  writing

    i want to be a student journalist!

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


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

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

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


    Instructor: Paul Babiak

    Class: T10-12

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

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


    Instructor: Michael Valpy

    Class: M10-12

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

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

    Best of luck with your anthropological discoveries.

    xoxo, Askastudent

  • engineering,  keeners

    i want to be a classy engineer!

    Dear Whomever This May Concern,
    I am a Grade 12 student in British Columbia.
    I have a couple of questions about Double Specialist Degrees and Dual Degrees. I am a person with multiple interests, so it’s really difficult for me to actually choose what I would like to specialize in for university. I would like to to pursue Engineering and Classics at university. I checked out a couple of other universities and a few of them allow Dual Degrees between Engineering and Classical studies, which I was very excited to hear about! Would this be possible at University of Toronto as well? In other words, would I be able to pursue Dual Degrees for Engineering and Classics at University of Toronto (St. George Campus)?
    I was also wondering about Double Specialist Degrees. What subjects are approved for Double Specialist Degrees at University of Toronto (St. George Campus)? Where can I find this information?
    Please help me! I’ve been trying forever to find answers to my questions, but so far there’s been no luck. Hopefully, you can change that!
    Thank you very much! I look forward to hearing from you!
    Sincerely,A High School Student


    Hi there, l’il high schooler. I am psyched that you are psyched about your dual-degree future. U of T is a little bit more complicated than other schools though, when it comes to attempting double specialist degrees. While in extra special cases they are allowed, the Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Arts and Science (classics) are two different schools, with two different laws.

    First off, you will have to be accepted into the Faculty of Engineering, which is a mega intense program as such. (Most students doing one degree there are swamped like crazy as it is.) Then between your engineering classes (and if you are wanting to do a Specialist, that’s a whole lot of courses), you will have to find time to register for a second degree in the classics program. Specialists at U of T Arts and Science can be anywhere between 10-plus credits, but I imagine the Engineering courses are a lot more intense. Even to do a undergrad classics degree, you will need to take your 10 classics credits, plus 5 breadth requirements. That only leaves you five optional classes – which is no second specialist dude!

    I’d recommend contacting the Faculty of Engineering at U of T to talk more about your options. You could always do a second degree in the later future? Or take a classics course or two to peak your interest? Otherwise, you might have to attend of those other schools who will allow your nerdy dreams to prosper, just like Poseidon’s empire, or whatever.

    xoxo, Askastudent

  • admissions,  economics,  first year,  keeners,  med school

    askastudent plans your life for you (but not really)

    Hi Askastudent,

    I’ll be applying to UTSG as a freshman for fall 2011 and have several questions. My first question: is it possible (and realistically doable) to finish your degree in 3 years instead of 4 with an excellent GPA (3.8 to 4)? I am turning 20 next year and naturally, I am just hard-pressed for time!

    The following questions are, well, a little complicated, but I really can’t think of anybody else but you to ask this! My long-term goal is to go in business (with the backup plan, which I will get to later). I want to study either Economics at UTSG or Finance and Economics as a joint specialist program at Roman. Is there a big difference between the two programs? I hear the Rotman one is purely academic (and fiendishly difficult) with no real-life applications! Here’s the twist. I am not exactly a math genius, and I know I won’t get accepted into either program straight away as a freshman. But, I’ve been getting tutored and studying my butt off to get myself on the right track. Is it possible to get accepted into either program (Economics or Finance and Economics) in the second year? The bigger twist: my backup plan is medical school.

    So, would I be better off as a no-major Bachelor of Science while taking all the necessary electives (and ace them because I need a really good GPA) to make myself a perfect candidate for both medical AND business school? For example, taking the right economics/fianance and science classes and getting internship and other work for experience to build up my resume, that sort of thing. Or should I stick with the first plan being studying either Economics or Finance and Economics while taking the right courses for medical school?

    Thanks heaps in advance, askastudent!!!

    The Hopeful Country Bumpkin


    Hello there. I saw your other email today hassling me about answering your question, I guess I decided to get my big butt off the couch and help you plan your life and all your courses for the rest of your academic career for you. How do you like that?

    First of all, doing your degree in three years instead of four with an amazing GPA while simultaneously applying for business and medical school will probably kill you and land you in an early grave. I know that you’re pre gaming right now for an inevitable quarter life crisis, but it’s important to recognize what your limitations are and how much time you will realistically spend studying, doing readings, writing papers, fulfilling breadth requirements and all the additional stuff needed to make sure you pass. Hell, applying for grad school and writing the MCATs is a full time job in and of itself. DO NOT OVERDO IT.

    Rotman’s finance stream (according to the Innis registrar here) is much more rigorous and finance orientated, with heavy math applications and lots of complicated courses designated towards real world financial experience. It is totally possible to get accepted into the Commerce stream in second year, especially with high marks in first year. There are many 100 level economics classes you can take (which I’m sure you’ve already registered in), that will guide you towards the program in future years.

    You’ll also be happy to note that you can get into Medical School in future years without even doing a life sciences stream! All you need is an amazing GPA and high scores on (GMAT? MCAT?) test. Contact your registrar for future details.

    Basically if you ace everything in first year and take classes towards your initial plan of Business School, you will be in a pretty position for your future years of Commerce. These courses might even lead you to a career as a rich business dentist – a.k.a. a dentist for rich people! You’ll be rolling in only the priciest plaque.

    xoxo, Askastudent

  • courses,  keeners,  psychology

    more advice for amanda the keener!

    hey guys! remember amanda the keener? well the psychology students association got back to me with advice for the courses she is selecting next year. exciting, right? here is their tips:


    We don’t have the syllabi for these classes, but personal opinions on the
    workload of those courses will be:

    High – PSY240H1: Abnormal Psychology
    Low – PSY220H1: Intro to Social Psychology
    Medium – PSY260H1: Learning and Plasticity
    Medium – PSY270H1: Intro to Cognitive Psychology
    Medium – PSY201H1: Statistics I
    Medium – PSY202H1: Statistics II

    amanda, show us some love.

    xoxo, askastudent

  • keeners,  profs,  psychology

    help amanda the keener!

    Hey, Aska Readers! Remember Amanda The Keener? Well she needs your help. She is in search of previous syllabi for the following PSYCH courses:

    – PSY240H1: Abnormal Psychology
    – PSY220H1: Intro to Social Psychology
    – PSY260H1: Learning and Plasticity
    – PSY270H1: Intro to Cognitive Psychology
    – PSY201H1: Statistics I
    – PSY202H1: Statistics II

    Have you taken these classes? Know anything about their degree of hard/easiness? Comment below or email askastudent.innis@utoronto.ca to dish the dirt.

    xoxo, Askastudent

  • criminology,  keeners,  law school

    okay, ally mcmajor change

    Dear Aska:
    I’m going into my third year, and I think the time for freaking out about grad school has finally arrived, so I have a question, albeit a rather ridiculous one. I’m currently doing a double major in criminology and psychology, and intend to go to law school, much like half of UofT. However, the international relations programme has always held a lot of interest for me, to the point where I want to switch over. Initially I was going to just demote my psych to a minor. However, I want to keep it as a second option for grad school in case my plan A doesn’t work. Now, to my question. I noticed that the requirements for the Crim major are 7 courses, which when one thinks about it, is much like the requirements for a minor programme in most other disciplines which require 4 credits (meaning around 6-8 classes since most are half classes). However, one can only specialize or major in Crim, not do a minor. Would it be possible, in any way, to convince someone, somewhere with some authority at UofT, that based on this logic, I could do 3 majors, even though one is very much like a minor?
    Also, in case your answer is a no, do you think it’s worth just saying to hell with it and only doing a minor in psych? I’ve come to understand that getting into any decent grad programmes without a research specialist is nearly impossible. I talked to the undergrad advisor but got a bunch of vague, neither yes nor no answers so I don’t want to base my decision on that, but at the same time I’d rather not waste my time if I can’t do anything with a psych major if it ever came to that.
    Thanks for your help, your input is MUCH appreciated as I feel you’re the only source for some straight answers at UofT!


    Dear askareader,

    You are crazy. Seriously. You want to complete three majors – and you are going into your third year? What are you, a billionaire? Doogie Hauser? Some kind of wealthy forever student with so much time to kill?

    Since I can’t exactly go through the courses you’ve already taken on ROSI without knowing your student number, my recommendation is that you book an appointment with your college registrar, like immediately.

    Doing three majors in three years equals at least 21 mandatory credits. If you’re lucky, some of these classes (like crim and psych) might overlap. But your IR major sounds incredibly difficult to finagle, ESPECIALLY SINCE YOU ARE GOING INTO YOUR THIRD YEAR.

    Promise me that you will book an appointment your registrar to discuss course selection this year, tout suite. And remember my rule: there’s no need biting off more than you can chew if the steak’s fine all on its own. (Okay, that makes no sense.)

    The point is, consider ace-ing the programs you’re already in before committing to an entirely new one and trying to fit in all the additional credits you might need in there. Talk to your registrar and work it out. Your plan might not be impossible, just overly ambitious and ill-conceived.

    xoxo, Askastudent