Hi 🙂 I’m deciding wether to attend UBC or UofT. (Provided I get in, of course. HA) One of the biggest pros about UBC for me is the sense of community. Since everyone lives in a university town separate from the city, it seems like there is a much larger “school spirit” as opposed to UofT. UBC ppl seem to like going to pep rallies, varsity games, etc. Does UofT have that as well? I would love to attend UofT but I’m moving very, very far from home & want a school with a strong sense of community.
thank you so much for your patience waiting for this post!
i wanted to give you a good answer, so i got in touch with someone who actually goes to UBC and asked a few questions to get some clarity.
first, it wouldn’t necessarily be accurate to say that everyone at UBC “lives in a university town separate from the city”— the campus is on a peninsula a bit farther from downtown, yes, but it’s still definitely part of vancouver. plus, many students commute in from vancouver and its suburbs.
in that sense, life at UBC would certainly be what you make of it–there are some students that head home right after class, and there are others that stick around on campus to attend social events or hang out with their friends. it’s possible that you’re from the UBC area and already know these details, but you didn’t specify so i’ve included it anyway.
to my surprise, it is apparently true that UBC students like to go to pep rallies and varsity games!
i don’t think u of t has any pep rallies outside of orientation week, when we’ve got the very large, very fun tri-campus parade that students of all years can participate in. varsity games exist at u of t, but i don’t think people go to them unless they know someone playing or are otherwise involved in that world.
if you’re looking for a strong sense of overall school spirit, u of t might not be the school for you. however, i wouldn’t say that that means u of t has no sense of community. u of t is a really big, academically-focused school (as is UBC, to be fair), so it kind of makes sense that we don’t build community around pep rallies and sports.
i was really shy when i moved to toronto to attend u of t and had lived in the same city my whole life before that, meaning that i didn’t have a lot of practice making new friends. still, i’ve managed to find my crowd at u of t just fine.
part of that has been thanks to first-year foundation courses, which are fun, first-year-only classes with a lighter workload that cap around 20-30 people. i met some of my favourite people in those classes. i also joined extracurriculars i enjoy, and lived in residence for some time, which certainly helped me meet people.
if you applied to the faculty of arts and science at st. george, you probably selected a college, which is where school spirit might come into play a little more. u of t students in artsci tend to identify with their college community, since their college determines what residences they can live in, as well as what college student union serves them.
there’s stronger college spirit at smaller colleges like victoria, trinity, and innis, but a lot of people i know have made their closest friends by going to their college’s social events and getting involved with college clubs. colleges hold formals and semiformals, arts and craft sessions, open mics, pub nights, movie nights, and sometimes even clothing swaps. there’s a ton of fun stuff happening if you’ve got the time to go.
plus, there’s a lot of appeal to u of t, location-wise. you’ve got the whole city on your doorstep. on a day off, you can go to the art gallery of ontario for free, go to a festival in kensington market, grocery shop in chinatown, or browse for books in the annex—all within walking distance of campus. if nightlife is your thing, i’d say it’s better in downtown toronto than it is in UBC’s immediate area. if you’ve made a new friend or two and want to hang out with them, you have so many options and i love that.
moving away from home is certainly a challenge, and u of t can be an isolating school for some students. as you make this decision, i hope that you consider the strength of your support system and your mental health. if you have a difficult time adjusting, will you be all right?
you’ll be the best judge of whether it’s a good fit for you. if you’re willing to put yourself out there, say hi to new people, and get involved outside the classroom, i think you’ll be able to build a community of your own at u of t. but if you’re drawn to the scene of pep rallies and sports games, you won’t find that kind of energy at u of t. the school’s too big for us to all get together in one stadium and yell fun things.
tbh if you want a sense of community, i’d recommend the university of alberta. i don’t know if you even applied there, but i know some people who were in residence there, and they made the school sound like a… summer camp, or something. so many games, outings, sports leagues, movie nights, pretty much every day of the week. wow. cannot relate.
i hope this helped in some way and thanks again for your patience. wishing you the best of luck with your university applications!