Some facts about school are common sense; others on the other hand require time to learn. As an incoming fourth year student, I like to think that I know the tricks of the trade when it comes to being a student at UofT. That being said, I would like to share some of my knowledge to those pure innocent souls coming into their first year of university and also to anybody else who is willing to read the article. So, whether you are a first year student or a returning student, here are some general facts and warnings that every UofT student should know!
1. Know that you will fail and that’s OK!
It is highly possible that your grades will not be as high as they were in your high school days. But, that’s OK! Don’t be discouraged by that 60% on your essay or that 50% on your midterm. It is a big transition coming into a university and your grades will improve with each assignment.
2. Use your TAs and be nice to them, because they control your grades.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR TA’S! It is important to go regularly to your TAs office hours and talk to them during tutorials. You will be surprised at how many times they give you the answers to your assignments.
3. Your professors are a great source of knowledge and you should go to their office hours because they love to talk about their subject.
University professors are not big scary intellectuals that will look down on you any time you say something. On the contrary, they enjoy talking to their students and sharing ideas and thoughts with curious individuals. The professors were, after all, once students themselves. Therefore, they know the struggles that you go through as a student and they are more than willing to help you learn how to properly study and understand the subject.
4. Become friends with the librarians on campus; they can help you improve your grades!
I wish I had taken advantage of this in my first year. Librarians are experts at finding the right information for completing any assignment. So be nice to them! They can make life a lot easier when you are trying to find the correct article to complete your essay.
5. Courses from smaller departments provide a meaningful learning experience.
Courses offered from smaller departments are often more rewarding than lecture based courses. These classes are often smaller in size and taught in a seminar setting. These classes also allow you to directly speak with your professor every seminar creating a more intimate learning process with the material.
6. Never buy your books at the UofT bookstore.
They are TOO EXPENSIVE! You are likely to find books used second hand from previous students. There are a variety of websites and Facebook groups where students are selling most books. Try this one! If your professor posts the Syllabus of the course early then you can also try ordering your books online for a cheaper price.
7. It’s worth taking an exchange or a summer abroad.
Going to the same school for four to five years can get a little monotonous. To get a change in environment and get the chance to see another part of the world, get out of Canada for a couple of months or even a year for your studies.
8. There is free food!
Yes you read it right! On certain days colleges or departments have free food or snacks for students. Every Wednesdays Woodsworth College has free pancakes and every other Friday the Koffler House offers free breakfast.
9. Whenever possible buy food outside of campus.
I personally don’t like the taste and quality of most food that is served on campus. Whenever I want something to eat I make a quick stop in either China or Korea town. Both destinations are less than a 15-minute walk, depending where you are on campus. You can get way more food for about the price you would on campus. However, the standard and taste of food is higher, leaving you satisfied.
10. But if you must get a quick lunch or dinner, the best college cafeteria is at Innis College.
There are those other times where you just don’t have the time to go off campus to eat. If you are in need for food and short on time, then I suggest you eat at the Innis Café. For five dollars you can receive a satisfying meal.
11. There is also the Brown Food Truck!
Nobody really knows the name of this food truck, so we simply call it the “Brown Food Truck”. Located outside of Sidney Smith, this place will give you burgers, fries, and poutine for really cheap.
12. Come and distress with puppies during exams!
During exam period the university designates certain days for students to cuddle and play with puppies. As a student myself, it really helps to distract me from my stress and fatigue.
13. UofT has a daycare system.
This is for any parent who is completing their degree and requires a daycare close to campus to look after their child.
14. UofT walking-buddy system.
The university campus is really safe at night. Nevertheless, sometimes it is scary to walk home by yourself at night. If you live on campus you can use the WalkSmart system organized by the On Campus Police. By calling somebody can come to escort you between classes or residences on campus.
15. Learn a language after you graduate of for fun!
If you would like to learn a language but don’t have room in your schedule then you can take courses at the University’s School of Continuing studies. This can be a great experience during school to break the routine or even after you graduate.
16. There is time for both schoolwork and extra curricular activities.
As a fourth year, I have had my fair share of late night study sessions and sleepless nights. However, that does not mean that I don’t have time to also participate in a variety of extra curricular activities. You have time for both. All you need to do is plan your time accordantly and being your assignments early. Extra curricular activities can make your university experience more rewarding.
17. Best friends are usually made with people outside of your profession.
It is obvious that you will make very good friends with people studying the same subject as you. However, it is likely that you will only talk about your schoolwork with these friends, which can get pretty boring. Good friends are often made through extra curricular involvement or in random electives you take. Having different study focuses allows you to talk about a variety of subjects and personal interests.
18. UofT makes you feel stupid.
Surrounded by intellectuals like your professors, TAs, and other experts you might not feel confident in anything you know.
19. But once you leave the school you will feel super smart!
However, as soon as you exit the campus grounds, you will be surprised as to how much you actually know.
20. Even through all the pain and struggles, at the end of the day you will say to yourself “I am so glad I came to UofT!”
You will only realize this during the end of your university career. Upon reflecting on your previous four years, you will be glad to have come and completed a degree at UofT. You will feel accomplished and proud and prepared to take on the next step of your life, whether be academic or professional.