enrollment,  enrolment,  first year,  one programs

baby’s first uni course selection

I’m going into first year Life Sciences this year at U of T in the fall. I know three courses I want to take because of certain admission requirements: BIO120, BIO130, CHM135, CHM136, MAT135, & MAT136. I am not sure to take PHY131 and PHY132 for first year. I want to keep my options open for other programs, but I’m not sure. I have an interest in taking PSY100, but I’m not sure if I could take it. I want to do 5 FCEs but I am not still sure. Course selection is very overwhelming. Any advice?


hi there!

course selection. my favourite time of year. it’s like christmas.

do i have any advice? hmm. let’s see. if you’re certain about your bio, chem, and math courses, those should occupy 3.0 FCEs. which means you have a few course slots to play around with, even if you choose not to take 5.0 FCEs. i found the adjustment from high school to university a little challenging, so i didn’t take 5.0 FCEs and found it helpful. whether or not that’s the right decision for you is something only you know. i will note, though, that uni can be quite different, and taking a lighter courseload will give you more space to figure things out, like how to prepare for exams and how to use the libraries.

if you’re undecided, you can always register for 5.0 FCEs and then drop courses later on. u of t has pretty generous course-drop periods, so you’ll have a good amount of time to decide whether or not you want to stay in your classes. plus, that’ll give you a chance to sus your courses out to see if they’re actually worth taking — if you decide to drop down from 5 to 4 courses a few weeks into the semester, you can just drop the elective you like the least.

regardless of courseload, i always recommend that first years take either a first year foundations seminar or something in the ‘ones’ program, just because i personally had really good experiences in both. the idea of these courses is that they’re meant to help you transition from high school to university. the classes tend to be smaller, the program material is specially selected to be super interesting, and the assignments are more fun/less difficult. you can only take these courses in your first year, so they’re definitely something to take advantage of now. something to note, though, is that you won’t be able to apply the credit/no credit designation to these courses — i assume because they tend to be easier to do well in.

here’s something else for you to consider: first year is a great time to get your breadth requirements out of the way. if you’re a life sciences kid, chances are you’ll have breadth 4 and 5 knocked out, but you’ll need to take a few classes that are breadth 1, 2, or 3. you can use the calendar to filter through different breadth requirements, in order to find the relevant courses for each category.

here are my personal recommendations, either drawn from experience or conversations i’ve had with other students. none of these have prerequisites, so you should be able to take them in first year:

you can also check the u of t reddit or the first year foundations seminar listings for other ideas!

other than that… first year is a good time to explore different interests and take a few risks! i wish i’d done that more when i was in first year. it’s easy to be drawn to the big, generic classes like PSY100, and miss all the quirkier offerings like “introducing religion: blood, sex, and drugs” or “how to study video games.”

you mentioned keeping your options open for other programs, and that’s a smart consideration to make as well. if you know what backup programs you might want to take, it’s a good idea to squeeze some of their prerequisites into your schedule, especially if they overlap with some of the courses you’re already taking.

i know course selection can be overwhelming, but if you use the tools at your disposal— the timetable, the calendar, degree explorer, etc. — hopefully it will be a little easier! that’s about all the advice i can think of right now. i hope this helped, and feel free to send another question in if you’re confused about anything specific regarding course selection!

be Boundless,



  • anni

    How is ENG199 graded? Is there a midterm/final or are there lots of essays? What is being marked? How much effort do you have to put into it (are there lots of readings/history?)

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