financial aid,  first year,  stress,  subject POST

You Won’t Believe What One Girl Did to Destroy her Existential Angst

Hi there!

I am a first year in UTSG and from my topic, you guessed it! I have absolutely no clue what i want to major in and the anxiety is eating me inside out.

This thought has boggled my head so much since money for my tuition is a real problem for me. The financial burden makes me want to ensure that what
i take will be worth every penny so i tried going for a full on 6 credits over my first year but little by little, i dropped my courses after figuring out how I have no interest(or previous knowledge) in the courses at all. Plus, it’s no joke how serious U of T takes each and every course. Now, I’m at 4 credits.

I entered U of T in Psychology with the notion that by studying about your mind, you will have a better chance of knowing what you want to major in. Ironically, going through my first few weeks in U of T taught me so much more and i have not even started my first psych class(i got the one for next term). I made the decision that what i study and what i want to do will be two separate entities so i got that covered for me. I do what I want to do outside of Uni and I study what i want to study inside of uni. Only problem is, i’ve been finding it hard to figure out what i want to major in after looking through U of T’s courses.

What do people normally want to major in in UTSG? What does UTSG facilitate more Arts students or science students? What do you do should you realize that U of T isn’t for you? I am writing this letter not to ask about transferring to another University but to ask about your personal experience about finding what you want to study and where one might get help on this topic on campus.


Your average stressed out first year


hey there,

in 100 years’ time, this e-mail will be exhibit 1.a under the heading: ‘Millennials in Crisis: Dealing with the Existential in a University Context in the Early 2000s.’

gen y crisis

The literature chronicling our freak-outs is quite extensive.

as someone who is (mostly) standing on the other side of this academic crisis, i think i can say with some confidence that the issue is not that you don’t have the answers, but that you’re asking the wrong questions. yeah. i’m a veritable Buddha of academic advice.

let’s just go through your questions step by step, before i compare myself to any more sacred cultural figures:

1) what do people normally want to major in in UTSG? does uoft better facilitate studies in arts or science?

there is literally no answer to that question. aside from the fact that the mixing and matching you’re allowed (even expected) to do with POSts allows for an almost infinite number of majors, minors and specialists, uoft does not have a particular inclination to any one area.

i’m not going to argue (as some overzealous uoft folks sometimes like to do) that uoft is the best university in literally every discipline. we’re not.

however, across the fine arts, humanities, and the social, applied and pure sciences, we’ve got consistently strong and diverse programs, and between all three campuses, pretty much every area of study’s been covered.

uoft is not a tech school, and it’s not a liberal arts college. more than anything, uoft is big. if you search long enough, you’re likely to find yourself somewhere around here. but uoft is not going to hand you any obvious choices.

i can tell you that psych is a pretty popular subject POSt. PSY100, which i guess is the class you’re taking next semester, is a good litmus test for figuring out if you actually enjoy or care at all about psychology. so that’s a step in the right direction.

process of elimination is a great way of figuring out what you want to study. if you take a wide range of different classes in first year, chances are, you can cross out a whole bunch of areas as definite ‘no’s,’ and that brings you a lot closer to figuring out what you’ll say ‘yes’ to.

also, don’t worry too much about doing 4.0 FCEs/term. lots of people do that. if finances are an issue, i would suggest looking into the ontario tuition grant, work-study jobs, your college’s bursary/emergency grant options, and UTAPS.

2) what do you should you realize that uoft isn’t for you?

get out. it’s not worth your time or your money.

that said, the issue may not be that uoft is not for you. it could be that your program is not for you, or your course load is too heavy, or your living arrangements are stressing you out, or your health is in a bad place, or you’re not connecting enough with the community to feel really excited about it.

if you’re starting to feel unhappy, don’t just push it to one side until it becomes this all-consuming, nebulous thing, like an itch without any clear point of origin. sit down and ask yourself what exactly is making you unhappy. be as specific as possible. write it down as a list, even.


things i hate list

A list is a great way to figure out what you like, and what you don’t like, about university.

once you have the list, go through it point by point and try and come up with some solutions for each point. if one of those solutions is to leave uoft, or university altogether, then that’s what you should do.

obviously, don’t just write a list and drop out the next day. give yourself some time to chew on it. talk to your registrar’s office. go to the career centre and book a career advising appointment, or participate in one of their career exploration programs. as well as being a welcome financial help, work-study jobs can help you explore your interests in a much more concrete way than in the classroom.

i know you’re already at school, but maybe it might help to come out to fall campus day. pretend you’re coming to university for the first time and just visit a bunch of different people. which programs excite you? which ones do you like talking to? that can also help you clarify some things.

just be honest with yourself. most people have a pretty good handle on what they like doing, and what they don’t. sometimes, though, our interests and priorities don’t match up with those of the people around us, and that makes us question them. try to block out the voices of your parents, your peers, the NSLC, etc. ask yourself what you actually want.

finally, don’t be too stressed that you have no idea what you want to do yet. it’s only september of your first year – you’ve got four years – at least – ahead of you to decide, change your mind, decide again, change again, etc. if you’ve already gotten past the homesick phase, that in itself is an accomplishment. clarity about your academics will come in time, if you put in the work to figuring them out.

best of luck,


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