What you’re reading in this handbook has everything we wish we knew when we started our first years at U of T.
We began our university career tossed into the deep end. Moving to a new city like Toronto and the start of a new academic life felt like a maze we would never find our ways through. Our first years consisted of mishaps that we still laugh about to this day.
There will be times in university when you question why you even thought going to U of T was a good idea and hope the pain that you’re experiencing ends quickly. But there will also be times when you try to hold onto a moment as tightly as possible and take in everything you see, in the hopes that the stories you tell about your experiences do them justice.
If we do our job right, this guide will help you create those memorable experiences you’d want to hold on to for years to come. Getting a degree is hard so do whatever you can to make your university life enjoyable as well.
— Alice Boyle, Handbook Editor & Caroline Bellamy, Creative Director
If studying really isn’t working for you — even during crunch time — don’t just try to force it. Be patient with yourself, and try switching things up! Maybe that means finding a friend who’s willing to listen to you explain what you’re studying, or listening to an old lecture while you cook, or maybe it just means going to bed early and trying again in the morning.
The first people you meet at U of T might not be your lifelong best friends, but that’s alright – just remember that college is a time for growth and change, and that it’s normal for friendships to evolve as you do. You will find your people, and you will find your place.
Take your TCard with you everywhere — trust me when I say, you don’t want to be kicked out of Gerstein.
Invest in some good noise canceling headphones. They'll make your long commute, loud roommates, and late night study sessions much more bearable.
Explore other libraries! There are other prettier libraries and study spaces than Robarts.
Do not underestimate the importance of mental health. If you do not take care of your mental health it will be a detriment to your grades and other aspects of your life 100% of the time. Mental health always comes first. Do whatever you need to do to keep that aspect of your health in check.
Go to the library and study as if you’re clocking into a job: while you work, put your phone away as if you have a boss watching you, then once your “shift” is over, relax or go out with friends!
Don’t let your goal of a perfect GPA discourage you from taking harder elective courses you are interested in. Also, don’t underestimate the power of asking and demonstrating enthusiasm. If you really want to take an elective but don’t have the prerequisites, just ask the undergraduate director or the professor. You might get in if there are spots available after the priority enrolment period is over.
It’s completely fine if you have absolutely no idea what your major is going to be, what classes you want to take, or even what you want to do after you graduate. You’ll probably change your mind about it many times. You don’t really know what you want to do until you actually experience university, and there’s no rush to graduate anyways.
Don’t feel pressured to say yes to everything! You don’t have to go to every event, hangout or be a part of every club. You have four (or more) years and that’s a lot of time. Think of your university experience as a marathon and not a sprint. It’s very easy to stretch ourselves very thin and burn out, so take care of yourself!
Becoming a part of Recognized Study Groups (RSGs) for classes you don’t feel particularly motivated to study for will help you stay on track, and is a great way to meet new people!
Your GPA is not a reflection of your worth! Try your best, be open to new experiences, and meet as many people as you can — the skills and friends you develop are much more valuable in the long run.
Book a meeting with an academic advisor or career counselor. The advisors will help you clarify your program choices and explain the complicated coordination of the Program of Studies (POSt) system.