After five years of enduring the bell curve, suffering through tutorials, and picking classes with the most inaccurate descriptions on the course calendar I can honestly say I’ve learned a few hundred tricks for surviving UofT. University is a game, learn to play it and you’ll survive. I wish I had a fifth year to tell me to chill the eff out when I was a newbie! So in a university full of bullies, insane teachers, and gross school lunches, me and my friends are all trying to do the impossible. Here’s a guide that will help you survive school. This is: Daniela’s Declassified School Survival Guide. Keep reading for 11 tips for UofT first years!
1. The sooner you realize your opinion doesn’t really matter, the sooner your essays will hit the 80% and above percentile.
AKA: bullshit them essays!
2. If you aren’t big on speaking out in class, but need those participation marks… scam the system!
Meet with the prof directly on your own time, email them weekly asking literally any question about the readings. Basically make yourself known outside of lecture!
3. Fourth-year seminars are every shy students worst nightmare, but we need them to graduate unfortunately.
I survived mine by taking one with a professor who already knew my work ethic. They’ll know your strengths on paper and consider this when you attempt to speak out in class but end up looking dumb af (me in every seminar class).
4. Take it lightly when the prof says: “study BOTH lecture and reading materials”.
Most of the time they overlap and you waste time studying the same information with a different ugly ribbon tied around it.
5. JUST GIVE THE PROF WHAT THEY WANT!
If they want a 45 page paper, do it. If they want you to do long division with just your mind, do it. JUST SUCK IT UP AND DO IT!
6. Find a library that gets you in the ~mood~ to be alone with your books and visit often.
Five years gave me tons of time to explore different libraries, but I’ve always gone back to my roots – Robarts and Kelly. Familiar places relax you and this is a good tip for studying during stressful exam szn.
7. Sometimes it’s okay to be bummy-looking, and sometimes it’s okay to own the fashion runway.
When you dress better, you feel better. Only in my last year did I pull out the track pants, but I do feel it affecting my studying habits. So yes, dress for academic success!
8. Don’t try to know EVERYTHING.
It took me timeeee to realize that my brain cannot hold the entire material of a stats textbook. If you know main concepts of your course, you can pretty much bullshit your way through. Profs want to see that you get the general idea of what they’re teaching.
9. Profs are like parents. They’re there to help if you give them a chance.
Meet with them; ask them for career advice too! If I didn’t learn this back in second year I would still be a ball of nerves sitting in the back of a psychology class wondering why life was so cruel! English and media suit me MUCH better. Shout out to Professor Peterson for giving me his raw career advice way back!
10. Download the Blackboard app and link your email to your phone.
This should be standard for UofT first years. This way you’ll never miss when your prof decides to change the readings last minute, or cancel class an hour before. And yes you can send those broadcast emails directly to junk – because really who reads them? Being in the know is a major key.
11. MAKE FRIENDS!
Only UofT students know the struggle of being a UofT student, especially UofT first years. If you’re feeling the stress of that calculus course, chances are the kid beside you is also breaking a sweat. We’re all trying to navigate through to graduation… we need to grow a pair at some point if we’re going to walk in front of all of Conn Hall to get that degree!
These off-the-record, maybe slightly too real-to-hear, tips are guaranteed to help you survive UofT! I know education is important and I do take it seriously, but university has its own set of rules and you MUST learn to play by them if you’re going to make it to the end.
PS: If you caught the “Ned’s Classified School Survival Guide” reference in the beginning, you’ve got my official blessing that you’ll do just fine at UofT!