My name's Michelle and I'm a third-year University of Toronto student. I created this blog to answer any questions prospective/current students have about the school - whether it be academic, social, or whatever! I'll also be blogging about my own university experiences in hopes that it may help some of you out who are going through the same things!

Beware: I am only in my third year, so I obviously don't know EVERYTHING there is to know about the university, but I will do my best to help. If I can't, there's a wonderful site called www.askastudent.utoronto.ca that is probably far better qualified to answer your questions than I am!

Overall, this is just to help some of you out with your transition into the University of Toronto (a.k.a best school ever).

Good Luck.

 

Anonymous asked
Do you think it would be hard for a first year to take a second year course? In order to get into Classical Civs you need 1 full credit in a CLA course but there's only 1 first year course available for the program, and it's a half credit course. I ended up selecting two second year courses and am worried about the level of difficulty. Any comments would be helpful, thanks!

Hey anon,

Many students take second-year courses in their first year of study, so it isn’t an uncommon practice. That being said, it shouldn’t be too difficult for you to take and pass those Classics courses. However, I will warn you that the buzz around the Classics major is that the courses are very difficult in terms of testing, so if you have little to no prior knowledge of the ancient societies or their languages, I would suggest taking the recommended first-year course, CLA160H1.

If you do have some experience, but are still unsure about the level of difficulty of the two second-year courses, then my suggestion to you is to attend the first few lectures of both and look over the syllabi carefully in order to understand what is required and expected of you. If after some analysis, you determine that you will be unable to take both courses along with the rest of your classes due to the amount pressure, then switch out of one and opt for a combination of CLA160, along with which ever one of the two second-year courses you found easier. That way, you will feel less stressed about your ability to achieve high enough grades to get into the program, while having a balanced schedule.

I hope this helped, anon. Good luck!

xoxo

Anonymous asked
Hey Michelle,

I was wondering what is essential to carry to class everyday for a commuter student? What do most students carry in their bag? Do you have to carry textbooks for tutorials or can you leave them at home. Thanks!

Hey anon,

A lot of students wonder about this same question, so you’re not alone! Whether you commute, or live on campus, what you’ll need to bring to class is the same. The difference however, lies between what needs to be brought to lectures, versus what needs to be brought to tutorials.

For your lectures, you will need to bring either your laptop or a notebook accompanied by pens/pencils. Within the first few classes, you’ll figure out whether or not you’re the kind of person who needs to type their notes in class or write them. If you get distracted easily, keep the laptop at home - you may end up lurking facebook mid-lecture. Or if you find that your writing can’t keep up with the pace of the lecture, then it may be best to ditch the notebook for a keyboard. Once you find what works for you, note taking will seem easy! If you do choose to bring your laptop, however, make sure you check its battery life - especially if you commute! If you have a six hour block of lectures and tutorials, but your laptop battery only lasts for 3 - 4 hours, you may want to bring a notebook instead - or at least one for backup. Nothing is worse than getting stranded on campus with a dead battery and no other means of lecture survival.

For tutorials, you’ll need to bring either your notebook or laptop (depending on the preference of your T.A.), as well as any textbooks or readings that were assigned to you during the week. Tutorials are designed to help guide students through the readings of the course, not necessarily to go over the lecture material. Thus, you may want to make some notes while you read, or perhaps prepare a list of questions or points of reference before your tutorial. Participation in your tutorials is worth 10% of your final grade, so doing some prep-work before your tutorial begins will make getting those marks that much easier.

The above are the basics of what you’ll need to bring to your classes. However keep in mind that every course, as well as every professor, is different, so you may need to bring some extra materials for class. For example, some professors may require you to purchase an ‘iClicker’ and bring it to specific lectures for quizzes and polls, while others may want you to bring along your course reader. Whatever the case, your professor will inform you of their requirements within the first week of classes.

I hope this helped answer your question, anon! If you have any other questions, just pop them in the ask box! Good luck with your courses and have fun!

xoxo

db87 asked
I am currently enrolled in three courses for the Fall semester. I would like to register for two other courses and I was wondering if there is any way to find out what courses still have availability. Is there anywhere on the University of Toronto's website, or on Blackboard, where I would be able to see which courses still have space? It's quite tedious having to type in a bunch of course codes on ROSI, only to find out that there is no longer space available. Assistance would be appreciated!

Hi db87,

Unfortunately, typing in a course’s activity and section code into ROSI is the only way to check available space in a particular course. I know it seems tedious, but keep trying! Students drop out of classes all the time, even after classes have already started because of schedule conflicts, or just because they’re not as interested in the material of a course as they thought they would be. If there’s a particular course you’re primarily interested in getting into, join their wait list as opposed to just skipping over it to see if another course has availability instead. Getting on that waitlist will give you the best chance of eventually entering the course.

Also, if you’re a first-year, try entering course codes for some first-year seminar classes if you haven’t yet. Find a couple that interest you (or that cover some breadth requirements, perhaps) and check their availability. Most likely, there will be some courses still available for registry which may fit with your schedule.

Always check back to the timetable to see if your course has multiple meeting sections as well. Make sure to check any priorities, restrictions and other enrollment indicators that may be on a course to determine whether or not you are eligible for regisrtation. If you find that another meeting section is available, try joining it on ROSI, provided that the meeting section fits with your schedule. The class may not be at the desired day and time that you originally wanted, but sometimes the sacrifice is necessary.

I hope this helped you out a little bit, db87. Good luck with your course search!

xoxo

Anonymous asked
Your advice has been so helpful so far, thank you for all the time and effort you've been putting into this =) I'm a first year LifeSci student but I wanted to take a half-year course for sociology. I noticed you said you did 2 half-year soc courses instead of the full year one, I just wanted to ask which courses they were, which one you liked more, and which one you would recommend. Thank you so much!! =)

Hey anon,

I took both SOC102 and SOC103 offered at the St. George Campus. To be completely honest with you, they’re both really similar, so if you’re looking to take just one, then you should pick the one that works better with your timetable in either first or second semester.

Personally, I enjoyed SOC103 more because I prefered Professor Green’s teaching style in comparison to Professor Tepperman’s. I felt that his lectures were more organized and his tests were relatively easy. He was also very good at using modern day examples (like the cast of Jersey Shore) as points of reference and comparison when explaining some sociological theories, which made the material easier to understand - and a lot less dry! Of course, this is just my opinion, so take what I say with a grain of salt. Check out the course descriptions in the calendar to determine what course might interest you more (http://www.artsandscience.utoronto.ca/ofr/calendar/crs_soc.htm#SOC102H1), or visit ratemyprof.com to see what other students say about teaching styles.

Hope this helped! Good luck!

xoxo

Anonymous asked
hey Michelle :) Could you please list some 1st year bird courses to take at UTM?
Thanks ♥

Hey anon,

Unsurprisingly, a lot of people ask this same question. But the thing is, there is no such thing as a bird course at U of T. They are entirely non-existent. There are courses you may take that are ‘easier’ for you than others, but that is relative to each person’s particular talents and abilities. For example, if writing has always been a strong point for you, then ENG100H5, which is a general writing course at UTM, might be the ‘bird course’ that you’re looking for. Due to the fact that I don’t have any knowledge of your academic strong points, I can’t really suggest any specific courses to you. But what I can do is provide a link that will walk you through what you should do in order to pick courses that might be easier for you. The student life blog, UpbeaT published a great post about this very topic a few years ago, which I think might be of great use to you. On a side-note, the one thing that they list that won’t apply to you is looking through the anti-calendar, as it seems that UTM hasn’t updated theirs in quite some time.

Here is the link for the site: http://blogs.studentlife.utoronto.ca/UpbeaT/2008/12/11/everybody-loves-a-bird-course/

I hope this helped! Good luck choosing those courses!

xoxo

Anonymous asked
I've been having a difficult time trying to decide which courses i want to take in my first year, I'm thinking about taking HIS109Y1 or PHL100 I don't have any previous knowledge of either course, so could you help me out and let me know if you would recommend these courses and which one would be easier and have a smaller work load?

Hi anon,

You’re in luck - I actually took both of those courses in my first year, so I can definitely help you out!

Previous knowledge of either subject is unnecessary. Both instructors (Bartlett for HIS109 and King for PHL100) are incredibly knowledgable professors and will provide you with extensive background, explanation and detail in each area of study. Everything Barlett will say is pure fact - you must listen well and have excellent note-taking skills for his class. He has a very dry sense of humor and likes to crack jokes about historical figures during lecture. You can sense his passion for the subject when he is teaching it, which will hopefully inspire you to do further research into the content of the course. The course requires quite a bit of reading, but nothing that is too difficult. And even if you do find them a little hard to understand, his TA’s are great about explaining the context and meaning of each passage. You will be required to write three essays and one exam. HIS109 was by far one of the best courses I took in my first-year and I would take it again in a heartbeat.

The Introduction to Philosophy course also requires no previous knowledge of the philosophers or the theories being studied. In fact, you may be at an advantage if you don’t know anything, simply because you can go into the course with a ‘blank slate’, and learn the theories the way Professor King wants you to. King is also very funny, and uses little stories and comparisons to make understanding and remembering a theory that much easier. He also posts his lecture notes online, which will be of much help to you during exam time just in case you missed something in class. Keep in mind that this does not excuse you from attending lecture - believe me, you will not be able to study from just his notes when you need to write your exam. This course is interesting and will get your brain jogging. That being said, it also has a lot of reading. It requires you to read full texts within days, which isn’t always easy if you have a course load that also requires you to read boatloads of material in a short amount of time. But if you’re genuinely interested in the subject, it shouldn’t be so bad. The course will require you to write four essays, one midterm and one final exam.

Choosing between the courses will be a tough decision, but you won’t necessarily have to ditch one, just because you chose the other. You’ll learn some history in the philosophy course, and you’ll learn a lot of philosophy in the history course - so either way, you’ll get the best of both worlds. Both courses have some great beginner content and amazing professors who are leaders in their field. You just need to choose the subject that interests you the most and go for it. I think you’ll be satisfied with either.

I hope this helped with your decision, anon! Good luck with course selection!

xoxo

Anonymous asked
when you sign up for courses do you also have to sign up for the tutorial or does rosi add it automatically? also do we choose the course times while signing up for courses as well? and i was told that first years are only allowed to sign up for 5 courses so does an s and f course equal one course (y) or do they count as two? sorry for all of the questions :)

Hey there,

If a particular course lists options for tutorial dates and times under the timetable, then you must choose one and register it on ROSI. When registering, you must add the activity code of your desired course into the text box indicated on the site. From there, ROSI will redirect you to a page which will list the tutorial options given in the timetable. Once you have chosen and confirmed one of the tutorial meeting sections, it will be added to your schedule. If the timetable does not already list tutorials for your desired course, you will not have to register for one on the day of enrollment. Once classes commence you will be given a list from your instructor of dates and times for tutorial meetings. At that point, he/she will give you instructions on how and when you will be able to sign up for your tutorial.

You do choose your course time if there is more than one meeting section available for the course. Keep in mind enrollment indicators that might prevent you from registering in a course’s meeting section. Some courses may be restricted to certain programs, or may give priority to certain students. To learn more about enrollment controls, click here: http://www.artsci.utoronto.ca/current/undergraduate/course/timetable/1112_fw/step-3-choose-your-courses#indicators. If your class has more than one meeting section, the course of action will be much like your tutorials. ROSI will redirect you to a page listing each available meeting section for the specific course code that you have entered, and you must choose one and verify it. Otherwise, you will be provided with only one meeting section time, which you must verify, and it will be added to your schedule.

You are absolutely allowed to sign up for more than five courses, however it is strongly recommended by the university that you only register for five credits due to the intense workload. Half courses simply give you 0.5 credits, and opposed to the 1.0 credit that a full course would give you. Therefore, an ‘F’ course and an ‘S’ course would equal one credit. So hypothetically, if all the courses in which you intended to register were half-year courses, you could register for ten - five half-year courses in the fall, and five half-years in the winter. Don’t think of the registration process as the number of courses you have, but rather the number of credits with which you intend to come out of first-year. Credit counting is extremely important - you need 20.0 to graduate, and usually 4.0 completed in first-year just to get into a Subject POSt. And ultimatelty, as long as you have enough credits registered on ROSI to fulfill your part-time or full-time status as a student, then you will be good to go. The number of courses is insignificant.

Good luck tomorrow, anon.

xoxo

Anonymous asked
Hi there,
I'm a first year life sci student. I checked my enrollment time on ROSI and my time is 7:15pm! I was wondering if you knew the likelihood of me getting into the classes/labs that I want are, as I know they fill up very quickly, and 7:15 is very late! I'm really worried about not making it into some of the lectures since there are not many ways my schedule works out nicely.
Thank you :)

Hey anon,

I’m sorry to hear about that unfortunate start time, but we can still hope for the best! I don’t know the true likelihood of you getting into your courses, but you are correct when you say they fill up quickly, as most first-year courses do! Don’t panic just yet though. When you log into ROSI on the 25th, enrol in the courses that are absolutely necessary for you to take first (like pre-requisite courses for your programs). Then enrol in the not-so-important courses/electives after. If you’re wait listed for them, it isn’t the end of the world. Many, many people switch out of courses because they don’t want to be on a wait list and try to get into a different meeting section. If you stay on it while everyone else is freaking out and dropping it, your spot on that wait list is going to keep crawling up until you get into the course! If you are wait listed and you’re really far down the line, enrol in your back-up courses. You should have something to fill the space while you’re waiting. And when I mean ‘far down the line’, I really mean it. Even if you’re number 55 on the wait list, you still have a pretty decent chance of getting into the course. If you’re number 118 and your position hasn’t improved in a couple of weeks, I wouldn’t count on getting in.

Also, keep in mind that even if you’re still on the wait list after classes commence, you still have a shot at getting into them. A lot of students will drop a course after only one or two lectures because they realize it isn’t for them or they won’t be able to handle it along with the rest of their schedule. So always keep yourself on that wait list - just in case.

I truly hope you get into all your desired courses, anon! ROSI can be so unfair with those start times. But as I said, don’t give up hope and make sure you have plenty of back-up options ready to go! Here’s to hoping all goes well on Monday!

xoxo

kathleenfrances asked
when first years pick their courses on the 25th, is it also possible to pick spring courses as well?

Hi there kathleenfrances,

Absolutely! When you pick your courses on the 25th, you should enrol in any courses that you intend to take both in the fall and spring sessions! There will be given periods in which you will be able to drop courses and enrol in new ones if you choose to do so later on in the year. However, you should enrol ALL courses that you plan to take in both semesters now.

Good luck on Monday Kathleen!

xoxo

ourtangledbones-deactivated2012 asked
I'm trying to get into an English major, but it says to do that, I need at least four English credits. Does that mean I need to take four English courses in my first year to get into the program, or does it mean I need at least 4 English courses throughout university? Also, what are the breadth requirements and how do they work?

Hi ourtangledcorpses,

The calendar actually says “Enrollment in this program requires the completion of 4.0 courses”, not specifically English courses, but simply four courses in general. What that means is that during your first-year, you must take and pass up to 4.0 courses in order to be eligible to enrol in the English Subject POSt for second-year. So if you decide to drop a couple of courses, or fail a course - and hopefully it will never come to that! - leaving you with less than 4.0 full credits, then you cannot enrol in the major. What is required of you in order to graduate with an degree in English is listed below:

"Seven FCE (including at least 5.0 ENG FCE) from the courses listed below, including 1.5 300+series FCE and 0.5 400-level ENG FCE.

Only 1.0 100-series ENG FCE may be counted. ENG100H1 and ENG185Y1 may not be counted.

Courses must fulfill the following requirements:

1. At least 0.5 FCE from Group 1 (Theory, Language, Methods)
2. At least 1.0 FCE from Group 2 (Canadian and Indigenous North American Literatures)
3. At least 1.0 FCE from Group 3 (American and Transnational Literatures)
4. At least 2.0 FCE from Group 4 (British Literature to the 19th Century)
5. At least 1.0 FCE from Group 5 (Literature since the 18th Century)

In addition, the Faculty of Arts & Science requires English Majors who do not complete ENG287H1 to complete at least 0.5 FCE in Arts & Science courses in Breadth Requirement Category 5: The Physical and Mathematical Universes.”

All that is listed above must be completed throughout your four years of university in order for you to graduate with a major in English. I’ve bolded for you something that I think you should definitely keep in mind. If you are taking ENG100 or ENG185, they may not be counted as one of the seven English credits needed to complete your degree. I would recommend taking one of the first-year English courses that does count toward your degree, so that by second year, you’ll already have one pre-requisite down, and only six more to go!

To answer your second question, breadth requirements are credits that you need to fulfill in order to graduate from U of T. Their purpose is to provide for you a well-rounded education. They are divided into four categories:

1. Creative and Cultural Representation

2. Thought, Belief, and Behaviour

3. Society and Its Institutions

4. Living Things and Their Environment

4. The Physical and Mathematical Universes

The calendar explains that you must complete 4.0 FCE’s from these categories. Specifically, ”these 4 credits must be either (a) at least 1 FCE in each of any 4 of the 5 categories above, or (b) at least 1 FCE in each of any 3 of the 5 categories, and at least 0.5 FCE in each of the other 2 categories” (page 24). You can tell which courses fulfill each breadth requirement by looking at their desciption. If you look at any given course in the calendar, for example, one of your English courses, ENG110Y1, it will display two statuses directly beneath the desciption - DR and BR. One is the distribution requirement, which does not apply to students in your graduating class. BR stands for the Breadth Requirement. If you have the printed version of the calendar, it will look like this: BR = 1. This indication means that the course ENG110Y1 fulfills Breadth Category Number 1: Creative and Cultural Representations. In the online version of the St. George calendar, (http://www.artsandscience.utoronto.ca/ofr/calendar/index.html#), the breadth requirement category will be already spelled out for you. Breadth requirements do not have to be fully satisfied in first-year, but must be completed over the course of your four years at U of T before graduation. However, I would recommend trying to get at least a couple of them covered in first-year so that you don’t have to worry about which ones you still have left to cover in subsequent years leading to graduation. Also keep in mind that some courses do not cover any breadth requirements at all, such as ENG100, while others might cover two. For example, ANT100Y1 covers categories 3 and 4 and should look like this in the calendar: BR = 3 + 4. Be aware that those that cover two breadth requirements, really only cover 0.5 credits per category. Therefore, by taking ANT100Y1, you will be satisfying 0.5 credits in category 3, and 0.5 credits in category 4.

I hope this helped clear some things up! Good luck with your choosing courses on Monday, hopefully all will go smoothly!

xoxo