• career choice,  GPA,  grad school,  jobs,  research

    should i stay or should i go

    For the past 4-5ish years at uoft,lets just say I didnt work as hard.I thought a BA would get me pretty far in life,but sadly,I was told I needed a masters to get a decent job in my field. The issue is that most master programs in canada have the standard 3.0+cGPA requirement.I dont mind staying back to boost my cGPA but will it affect my application?do schools look at the #of years uve been in school?Not exactly sure what to do…

    while working hard is usually a good statement to live by, sometimes it just doesn’t happen for some of us (lol me) and that’s okay. there is always room for change!

    because every school is different, i can’t say for sure that they won’t look at how many  years you’ve taken to get your degree. i do know that they will be looking at your most recent academic performance and because of that, it wouldn’t be a terrible to thing to boost your cGPA. however, if you are really far away from a 3.0 cGPA, you might want to reconsider staying behind. you may end up spending too much time (and a lot of dough) trying to get that 3.0 cGPA.

    my feeling is that if you have experience with research in your field, it can definitely improve your chances of being accepted because it shows that you took the initiative to look for these opportunities. even if it isn’t a formal job, experience is always beneficial to your application.

    remember that getting a 3.0 GPA doesn’t guarantee entry into a masters program! there are other factors that will be considered during the admissions process, so don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

    if you haven’t already, check out the career learning network to see if there are any jobs open now that you are interested in!

    hope all of the above makes sense, i’m sorry i couldn’t give you an absolute answer since they do handle each application on a case by case basis. your best bet is calling the schools directly. (or emailing their askastudent) 🙂

    Distractify the clash

    (click on the .gif for the song. its a classic)

    peace and love,


  • GPA,  grad school,  grades,  jobs,  lab experience,  life science,  lost

    don’t lose hope, youngling


    I am a life science student in the second year. After completing the fall term studying, I feel that it is very difficult to get a high GPA. I wonder if I get 3.0 cumulative GPA after graduation, what can I do? what school accept me? what work opportunities do I have? Thanks.




    *as askastudentuoft, i hope you understand that i am knowledgeable about all things U of T, and that’s about it, so this post will be very U of T centric*

    while a 3.0 GPA is great, many of the life science graduate programs available at U of T require averages which range from B+ to A- (with the exception of the occupational science and occupational therapy program which looks for mid B’s). but, keep in mind, these are just life science programs available at U of T. there are plenty of other schools which offer similar programs which may require different averages.

    you’re only in second year, which means you don’t ACTUALLY know if you’re going to end up with a 3.0 average. you seem to have already lost hope in yourself. don’t stress out right now about what your work opportunities will be and just try your best to get the best grades you can. i can’t really tell you what kind of work opportunities will be available when you graduate because we don’t even know what program you’ll be pursuing for grad school!

    a good place to start is the career learning network. it’s a great tool for current students and recent graduates. you can use it to find research positions (i hear the life science people like those) and postings by companies looking for recent U of T graduates. logging onto the career learning network website is definitely the first step you should take when looking for work opportunities for students like you!

    for now, focus on school and building up your resume with work and volunteer experiences. they can be relevant or irrelevant to your field, but having experience is definitely an asset when applying for any kind of job. volunteer at a hospital from time to time or make some money tutoring kids grade 10 science! whatever it is, just make sure you work hard and build up a good collection of references in case you need them for grad school.

    in all seriousness, i’m graduating later this year and i don’t even know what work opportunities will be available to me! i can’t even see into my own future, let alone yours!

    anyways, hope this was somewhat helpful!

    good luck, work hard, and try your best at everything you do.

    peace and love,


  • grad school,  jobs,  lab experience,  psychology,  work-study

    no experience with labrador retrievers necessary


    On the psych grad school page it states that applicant have to have lab experience. Could you please clarify what this means?


    Another psych student



    when you say another psych student, are you implying that i am also a psych student, or are you implying that you are yet another psych student that is asking me a question about lab experience?

    lab experience pretty much means you have to find placements in labs to help conduct research. having experience in these labs will definitely come in handy when you’re in grad school.

    i did a quick google of “lab experience u of t psychology” and it showed me this link, which i found very informative.

    you are responsible for finding lab placements yourself, but the link i’ve attached has plenty of resources which you can seek out, whether it’s the career centre, the career learning network, or even the psychology students association! they will be able to provide you with all the available opportunities as well as how to go about applying for them. they’ll probably even know more about how many hours you need / what kind of positions qualify!

    hope you find a good placement! good luck!


    not a psych student

  • jobs

    job eat job world

    Do you think it will be hard for me to get a decent job straight after graduating university with BA Honours in Political Science?














  • first year,  jobs,  OSAP,  UTAPS,  work-study

    the CLN scares you? wait ’til you get on campus

    hiya,love this blog i got a couple questionsfyi-> incoming full time- first year- st.george- engineering- unsettled 1) what counts as honors standing in the engineering faculty for undergrads? they said someone is accepted to transfer to any engineering program even engsci after first year if they finish both first year semesters with honors but it doesn’t say  what gpa that would be or what else is considered…2)…should i be studying during summer as in is it expected or recommended by whoevers recommendations i’m supposed to listen to? 3) when i check my osap application status for full time studies it says i still need to provide documents for both the parent declaration and the student declaration. i printed them myself and uploaded them and i thought that was good enough because its says upload them or submit to your financial aid office. in one column beside the name of the documents  it says received on one side yet there’s a big red X on the other side. for the MSFAA that i mailed in its a green check and it says done instead of recieved. i uploaded them june 1st am i risking getting funding in time by not handing my declarations in to financial aid on top of uploading?! 4)what happens if a dont have enough money, i read a post about UTAPS helping but i missed that feb deadline by a mile 5)work-study only lets you work 12 hours, can i have 2 work-study jobs? or should i just get a part time job without restrictions is is even possible for first years to get work-study in labs or libraries, CLN scares me 6) i will be commuting 4 hours total, i wanted to save the rent money (rent debt tbh since osap would bankroll me) is this doable do commuters grades suffer? like is it too much to sleep in a library then boot and rally to shower at a gym and keep things in a rented locker for lectures sometimes


    hey there,

    1) i don’t know what you mean by honours standing. as far as i can see, the minimum university GPA to be considered as a transfer applicant to engineering would be a B (which at 5 uoft would be a 3.0). so i guess that’s the answer!

    2) i mean, if you feel really insecure about a certain subject or something, it could certainly never hurt to study extra (not to mention how admirable it would be). if you want my personal thoughts, though? i would spend the summer before university travelling if you can, spending time with family, relaxing, and maybe earning a bit of money to help put you through university. you have four years of studying ahead of you. may as well enjoy the time off while you can.

    3) that all sounds fine to me? and if you submitted by june 1st you should be assessed in time. however, if anything looks weird or out of place to you, the place to call would be enrolment services. maybe you have to submit the signature forms to enrolment services as well as uploading them, or something. also, some portions of the application are completed by the school, rather than by you, so perhaps those things are showing as unfinished and it’s throwing you off. regardless, enrolment services will be able to walk you through it and sort things out.

    4) if you’re an Ontario student getting OSAP, you will be automatically assessed for UTAPS. the February deadline is only for out-of-province students.

    5) you can only work one work-study job at a time, and to be honest, that’s probably a good thing. 24 hours a week is bordering on excessive for a full-time student, ESPECIALLY a first-year student. that’s just my two cents, though. if you’re determined to work two jobs or need to for financial reasons, you can. you can get a work-study and a non-work-study job, or even get your second job off-campus.

    as for how difficult it is to get a job: i’m not gonna lie, lots of lab/research opportunities go to upper-year students with more specialized knowledge. on the flip-side, there are a TON of work-study jobs that go up for September. whatever it is that scares you about the CLN, you gotta get over it, because it’s a treasure trove of opportunity.* try and think of the job listings as a fun adventure (and i know this is hard when you’re strapped for cash, but it is the only way to get through the horror of a job search in my experience; otherwise, you’ll checkout mentally and not be as alert in the hunt). there are lots of opportunities here, and maybe even a couple that are perfect for you.

    6) commuting is rough. i commuted for my second year only, and my total commute was three hours long. it was not fun. i felt exhausted at the end of every day. however, having now finished my degree, i’ve looked back  and realized that my highest annual GPA happened in my second year, the only year i had that brutal commute.

    how did this happen? well, it’s certainly not because the people snoring softly in the quiet zone of the GO train inspired me academically. it’s because commuting forces you to be really smart about how you spend your time. a large part of that is time management, i.e. studying in the library between classes, setting up a weekly study schedule that you make sure to stick to, etc., BUT it also forces you not to overburden yourself. when you live close to or on campus, you can sometimes convince yourself that you can do everything, because it’s all so close by!

    by contrast, knowing that your commute takes up time/energy forces you to be realistic about how much you can do outside of school. in second year, my participation was meaningful, but modest. i was part of a few clubs, each of which only required a couple hours a week of my time, i had a work-study, and that was it. and i did really well in school! fancy that.

    by sharing my experience, i don’t mean to imply that yours will be exactly the same. everyone has a different experience at university, especially one as big as uoft. i just want you to know: it’s possible. if you’re smart and organized about it, you can do it.

    finally: you may want to check out these tags if you’re already thinking about sleeping in libraries; there’s a lot of info there about the best places to study, rent lockers, cry without being noticed (hopefully you won’t need that one), nap, etc.



    *i know that this makes me sound like a greasy capitalist. i’m sorry. i feel slimy.

  • 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.



  • work-study

    jobs all over the place

    I’m in 2nd year and decided to apply to a couple of work-study programs a few days ago but the u of t site says that you start working on the 14th (even though the deadline for the apps are in october?) and I haven’t gotten a reply from any of the places I applied to. Plus one of them sent me an automated response saying that they were on vacation until classes start (the 14th). When do they usually hire and did I apply too late?


    hey there,

    so the final deadline to apply to work study in general is October 2nd. after October 2nd, all postings will automatically disappear and hiring will end until the summer.

    HOWEVER, some work study positions take their postings down earlier because they need their work studies to start earlier for whatever reason.

    if you come across a posting you’re interested in, follow the deadline that’s specific to the posting. if they don’t include one in the posting, assume that you can apply until the 2nd and just submit your application. what’s the worst that could happen?

    some of them hire really early, and some go right until the deadline, so there’s really no “early” or “late.” there are still plenty of opportunities left – so don’t give up hope! you too, can make just enough money to eat out too often at cheap pizza joints at 1am on a Tuesday.*



    * no, i don’t do that. what would possibly make you think that? that’s just my whimsical, artistic interpretation of the modern student’s life. i am actually remarkably put together and always in bed by 10:30pm. so. admire me.

  • work-study


    Hi Aska, I clicked on the link you posted for the CLN and it said that I need to register for it. Can I set this up by myself using my uoft email? Or is there some other way I need to register?


    hey there,

    oh, da#n! aska just got receipt’d. i guess i should be clearer in explaining how to do stuff, instead of just linking out to all sorts of things and assuming you’ll figure it out. what can i say: in between all the sonic the hedgehog gifs i post, one or two academic links can easily get lost in the chaff. i guess i should be more careful about these things.

    anyway, all you have to do is login using your UTORID and password. if you’re an incoming student, this should be the same as your JOINID and password to login to Join UofT. however, if you’ve forgotten your password or are having trouble, you can follow the “Forgot your password?” link on the login page or contact the helpdesk at Robarts for assistance.

    if you’re not a uoft student, but you ARE an employer or faculty/staff, just click on the ‘Register’ button and fill out the form that comes up. once you’re done, click ‘Submit Registration’ and wait for a response!

    if you’re not a student or an employer or staff – then skedaddle. what are you even doing here, anyway?



  • profs,  work-study

    research THIS!

    I was wondering how exactly a student could get an internship helping a professor with research?


    hey there,

    as with all things at university (and in life), there are two ways it can happen: you can go about it the official way, or you could just sort of fall into it.

    1. the Official Serious Business way

    you can get involved with a professor’s research in two main ways: through class work, or through work-study.

    many departments offer research courses called 299’s as part of the Research Opportunity Program. these are research courses geared specifically towards second-year students.

    299’s are a really cool opportunity because you get to do real research for credit; it’s class time and work experience all bundled together. two birds with one stone.

    these courses tend to be for science students, so it’ll be trickier to find an opportunity as a humanities or social science student, but you can take a look at the courses available this year to get an idea of what’s out there. there are also similar courses for third and fourth year students (called 398/399s and 497/498/499s, respectively – take a look on the timetable to find out what departments are offering each year).

    the second Official Way that you can get involved in research is by being a research assistant through the work-study program. loads of professors advertise RA positions through work-study, for both undergrads and graduate students. just take a look on the CLN for opportunities – they’re being uploaded every day now, and applications close in late september.

    2. the sneaky back-door way

    of course, doing things the proper way is all good and well, but sometimes we just fall into stuff without knowing quite how we got there.

    sometimes, keeping your ears open is enough. get to know the professors you like. talk to them about their interests, their research. if you feel comfortable, let them know you’re excited about what they’re studying and ask if there’s a way for you to get involved. if you’re lucky, they might like you so much they’ll offer it to you – stranger things have happened.

    i hope you get to do some snazzy annotated bibliographies.



  • jobs

    internship, shminternship

    how do internships work?


    hey there,

    i love how general this is. no specifications whatsoever. super exciting.

    if you’re doing an internship through a department at the university, then it works however they say it does, i guess. there’s no university-wide internship program (on the downtown campus, anyway), so i can’t give much more detail than that.

    if you’re just applying for internships out there in the world, then apply, cross your fingers and go out for drinks afterwards, because applying for any job is entirely too much stress.

    finally, here are aska’s Top Tips about making your internship experience the BEST it can be: don’t take any internships that are unpaid (that $h1t’s not worth it), make sure that whatever internship you take works with your school schedule (and yes, you do have to factor sleep into that schedule), and scope out coffee places close by BEFORE starting your job.

    all the best,


  • jobs,  library

    librarians in da house

    Hey! I’m interested in applying to a student library job at EJ Pratt library next year, but there’s no information on their website about jobs, even though I know that students work there. So I ask you, oh knowledgeable one: Do you know how and when can I apply?


    hey there,

    you can take a look at student library vacancies here and apply for jobs here if you’re not picky about which library you want to work at.

    if you’re looking to work at pratt specifically, the process is a bit different.

    the reason you weren’t able to find anything online is because they actually don’t list anything online. their application forms are available in physical form (that’s paper & ink; ancient, right?) at the circulation desk at pratt. you can fill one out there, and they’re looking to hire people for september at this point.



  • career choice,  jobs,  polisci

    a USELESS degree? in MY faculty? it’s more likely than you think

    Dear aska, I recently saw a post where a student stated that his/her degree in poli sci was “useless” and they were looking for alternatives. Being a 2nd year Political Science student at U of T myself, I was wondering if I could get Aska’s opinion on this; being the knowledgeable person that you are. Why do you think such a stereotype exists? And what are the employment prospects for students holding a degree similar to mine?


    hey there,

    knowledgeable??? nah, you must have me confused with someone else. they only hired me because i could juggle three watermelons while singing ‘the maple leaf forever.’

    fact of the matter is this: no matter how much the department insists on calling itself ‘political SCIENCE,’ it’s about as much a “science” program as art history or celtic studies are.

    poli sci. is a humanities program through and through, and as such, it does not give graduates a suit and a job along with their degree. as a poli. sci. student, you are not being trained for any specific job – except, maybe, the job of a political science professor.

    you’re getting a liberal arts education, which means that you have to be CRAFTY about how you present yourself to employers. some people may say that because of that, your degree being ‘useless,’ but i would disagree. all it means is that you have to be a little more involved in your job search.

    why does the ‘useless’ stereotype exist? because of a utilitarian outlook on education driven by capitalism and neo-liberals whose vision is so obscured by the free market that they can’t fathom the idea that there might be something worthwhile in learning for itself. also because of mike harris, probably. BUT i digress.

    i would argue that just because your degree doesn’t fashion you into a pre-made corporate automaton, doesn’t mean it’s useless – even in a utilitarian sense.

    political science degrees are great preparation for law school, graduate studies in political science, all kinds of political journalism, public relations or communications work, public policy work, and lots of obscure government jobs.

    that said, the degree alone usually isn’t enough to get you a job right out of your undergrad. try to get some experience, if you can, in some of the areas you’re interested in, either by volunteering or interning or working.

    for more information, i’d recommend you look at this incredibly detailed profile from the career centre at utm. this is another useful starting-off point.



  • computer science,  courses,  summer,  work-study

    mysterious impossible courses

    Hi! I was looking at summer courses, and I came across CSC207H1Y. Would students have gotten a half-credit or a full credit? How would this impact their eligibility for a summer work-study position? Thanks.


    hey there,

    i think you misread the course code there, chum. i see a CSC207H1 on the 2014 summer timetable, but no CSC207H1Y.

    and it’s a good thing, too, because ‘H1Y’ is not a thing (at least, in the faculty of arts & science – not true for the faculty of engineering, or for certain independent studies courses in artsci).

    you can’t be in a half-year course and a full-year course at the same time. unless you’re cheating.

    anyway, if you’re in a half-year course, you’d need to pick up at least 0.5 more credits over the summer to be eligible for work-study.