UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO

University of Toronto (UoT) was established in 1827, is located in Toronto, ON, and has 3 branches; one in St. George, Scarborough, and Mississauga. This impressive establishment is made up of 83,012 students, and offers 191 programs [1]. The two main academic faculties are: Arts & Science, and Applied Science & Engineering [2]. Beyond academics, UoT has 44 sports teams including rowing, ice hockey, and football, that are cheered on by their mascot, True Blue![2] Socially, UoT is very in touch with Greek life, having seven sororities, and eleven fraternities. In addition to the very traditional recreational life at UoT, there lies the infamous ‘Hart House’, established in 1919, in which students can go to watch live theatre, dine, browse the art gallery, or even just visit the library [2]. Finally, the University of Toronto is a member of a group of research intensive Canadian universities known as the U15 [2].

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For a Criminology, Sociology, and Forensic Science Student at UTM...

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What's your favourite elective and why?

My favourite elective would have to be the Cinema class I took in my first year (CIN101). During my first year at UTM, it was required that a student needs to take different types of courses,

so CIN101 was one of them. This course was my favourite because it was so intellectually stimulating. It took the approach of how we watch movies to another level. The courses were also a good mixture of lectures and tutorials. Lectures taught more about the different types, styles, and approaches to cinema. Then, the tutorials involved watching movies!!! In saying this, the course was exciting but taught me a lot. 

Do you feel there’s a good support/transition program for freshman students?

UTM has a great health and wellness centre that can provide resources for any kind of thing. It is so easy to make an appointment and talk to someone about anything! Also, UTMEngage is a great resource to know more about how to get involved in the UTM community. Being a part of a club can make your University experience so much better than if you didn’t. In addition, utmONE courses are a great way to get more help and practice transitioning into University and your academic skills! Furthermore, orientation and frosh week at the beginning of September are awesome ways to get familiar with the school community and make new friends! 

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Why did you choose your program? What makes it unique to you?

I choose my program because of my career aspirations of becoming a lawyer. I always had an interest in how humans behave and why they do the things that they do. I thought criminology and sociology would be a great fit to learn more about this and other topics such as social justice, crime, human behaviours, motivations, motives, and

more! I later found an interest in forensic science, it was a great link to what I want to do overall. The programs I went into were unique to me because it interested me and applied to my overall career aspiration. I think a lot of students can relate to not knowing what they want to take in University. So, this was unique for me to have that clear picture of what I want to do starting University. 

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What is some advice you would give high school students when applying to your program?

Advice that I would give high school students applying to my programs is to make good connections and know a plan to achieve your degree. To address the first topic, making connections is a critical part of your life! Having those friends, connections, or support systems to rely on, can truly help you with anything. One regret I have is not making connections with my professors. As I am now in my fourth year, applying to law school, I am struggling to get academic references because I never formed those connections earlier. So, it is really important to talk to that professor during their office hours or apply for research projects that professors in your field are doing and try to jump on board!  In regards to my second point, making and knowing that degree plan about what you need to do to is super helpful. First-year courses are very basic and broad however, you need to take them so you have the pre-requisite for the second, third, and fourth-year courses. During my first year, I looked at all of the future courses that were required for me to take for me to complete my degree. To this day, I still have that piece of paper because I can refer back to it when it comes to that time to pick courses. 

How would you describe your first year at UTM?

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My first-year at UTM was a rollercoaster. If I could give any advice, definitely participate in Frosh Week. I was debating going and I caved in and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I met some of my closest friends during frosh week, got to experienced cool events, and start making connections with the University faculty at UTM. While the school year began, it became intense. This isn’t high school anymore, but it was a good fresh start and taught me a lot. I had some stressed filled nights, trying to balance school work is quite difficult. But learning to manage how to deal with that stress, can play a HUGE role. I discovered that I liked to release stress by going to the campus gym and running. It reduced all my stress and when I got back to my dorm, my mind was clearer. I also discovered the health and wellness centre which provided resources and help to deal with the stress of the first year. In saying all of this, not to scare you or anything, but it feels rewarding enough to know that you made it to University! I had some really good experiences during the first year as well. The friends I made during frosh week were great study buddies and dinner dates. We had a lot of fun too. So, as scary as the first year might be, enjoy it and find that way to manage any stress and fear you may encounter during your first-year!

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A very special thank you to our interviewee...

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KATE HAMBLY

Kate Hambly is a fourth year student at the University of Toronto - Mississauga Branch studying Criminology, Sociology, and Forensic Sciences. She is a very involved and active student having previously been a student tour guide. Feel free to contact her via her LinkedIn below if you have any other questions.

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For a Neuroscience & Molecular Genetics and Microbio Double Major Student at UofT St. George Campus...

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Why did you choose your program? What makes it unique to you?

Influenced by my parents who both work for the community, I always aspired to do the same, but with something that I had passion for and was good at. Always being interested in the human body and how it functions, I had an ultimate goal of going to medical school and becoming a doctor. However, after the experience in working at St. Michael’s Hospital as a CO-OP student, I realized that there are many different opportunities in the medical field and it is not only restricted to being a doctor. This has enabled me to confront my interests and I started looking for things that I was passionate about. Participating in a lab session at the University of Waterloo for the SHSM program in high school, I had the chance to handle preserved human brain

specimens. Also, through an injury prevention program I attended at St. Mikes and being informed that brain injuries are very critical to humans, these opportunities had a large impact on my decision in choosing a Neuroscience major. Molecular Genetics & Microbiology (MOGEN) major only stood out to me in university after taking an introductory molecular biology course in my first year. I chose this program in order to enable myself into more opportunities, as the Neuroscience program does not have a lot of overlapping courses with MOGEN and also because this program offers a laboratory course, in which will allow me to gain research experience.

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What's the class environment like in your program?

Almost all of the courses I had in my first year were in the larger lecture halls, with at least 200 to almost 1200 students listening to the same professor at the same time. Larger classes were much harder to pay attention to, as they did not care what you were doing as much, and were more difficult to find friends in. Lectures are mostly for the professors to explain the lecture slides in more detail, and are usually part of the passive learning. Tutorials and labs being a much smaller group, from 15 to 40 people in each section, this was a good opportunity to communicate with the TAs and other students. In tutorials, we mainly go over complicated problem sets and have quizzes either weekly or biweekly. Labs are meant to extend your knowledge learned during the lecture and tutorials. Both tutorials and labs are a good method of active learning, which have a higher retention rate and thus help with maintaining the knowledge.

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JUICY

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What is some advice you would give high school students when applying to your program?

To the high school students out there wanting to apply to a Life Science faculty program, I would suggest for you to get involved in as many extra curricular activities as you can because I believe that experience is key to one’s development and it is what shapes someone’s interest. From being part of a biology club in high school to working at a clothing store, all of these experiences will come in handy when you start to build your applications for university. Make sure to find things that you are passionate about and enjoy doing, as university professors will not chase you to hand in quizzes and assignments, it is all about your motivation! If you like the program,

you will definitely be more engaged in the learning and there is a higher chance for you to succeed with the program. For students entering a Life Science program at UofT, I would suggest for them to take as many electives as they can in their first year. This is a great opportunity to explore their interests in different fields, which will reduce stress during the end of the year with choosing and finalizing their programs. And do not hesitate to have your first year be the time to adjust to your own studying habits, as many of the courses in the Life Science program will be memorization-heavy. To those students that are hoping to get into Neuroscience and MOGEN, I would suggest for you to be on top of your work and to adapt a studying schedule because these programs are competitive and they will look at your marks before accepting you into the program.

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Which electives do you recommend that students take?

As I mentioned above, do not hesitate to explore your interests while choosing courses! Additional from the required courses I had to take for a Life Science student, I took an introductory German class out of curiosity and being interested in the language. Since most language classes are smaller in size, it was a wonderful opportunity to communicate with students in different programs and different grades. Also, as a first year student, I recommend taking first year seminar courses with usually less than 20 people in the class. These seminar courses are in great variety, spanning from History to Life Science courses, and are easier in general. This is a wonderful experience for you to pre-expose yourself into the programs you want to get in second year.

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Are there many research opportunities?

Yes! UofT offers numerous amounts of research opportunities for undergraduate students and even for high school students! The Work-Study program allows you to explore many different research opportunities while being paid for 

the experience. Looking into specific programs at UofT, they offer research experiences and allow you to further explore into the hands-on learnings offered here at the school. Research Excursion Program allows you to travel off-campus, from downtown Toronto to Greece, and to take part in a professor’s research for a credit. Research Opportunity Program is a wonderful experience for second and third year students to step their feet into the field of research by getting a credit for this opportunity. As I am starting my ROP with a professor at UofT, he is also the director of URECS, a program designed for secondary 

students who are interested in being a part of a university research experience. Finally, many professors and TAs are conducting their own research and they may be recruiting volunteers, so stay tuned within your classes and attend office hours to get to know your instructors!

 

A very special thank you to our interviewee...

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YOOBHIN PARK

Hey everyone! My name is Yoobhin Park, and I am a second year student at the University of Toronto (Trinity College), studying Neuroscience and Molecular Genetics & Microbiology as a double major, with a minor in Psychology. I am starting my Research Opportunity Program with one of the professors at UofT, and I am hoping that this experience will be the starting point of a possible career in the field of research. Through this opportunity, I would like to simulate the different injuries that can occur in the brain, and to eventually develop potential solutions to prevent these diseases. Further on, as brain injuries have a potential for recovery with regenerative medicine, this has enabled me to be interested in this field and gain the position of a Finance Co-Chair in the stem cell conference the SSSCR (Student Society for Stem Cell Research) at UofT holds every year. We have speakers from many different fields, including life sciences, scientific research, ethics and industry in order to broaden the audience, so stay tuned for the conference and hope to see you all at the event:) I have previous experience in mentorship from high school and I have a large passion in giving advice related to life science, but also about university life in general! Feel free to shoot me a message about questions and concerns, or just to make new friends!

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For an Rotman's Commerce Accounting Student at UofT ...

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Why did you choose your program? What makes it unique to you?

My top values for choosing a program were the location of the university, the program quality/structure and the opportunities available to network.  The location of Downtown Toronto is perfect for me because my family resides in Mississauga, making it easy to visit & in the future I hope to have a job downtown while possibly living there. It is also a very vibrant city which inspires me to work hard! And on your time off there is so much to do in Toronto and so much good food to eat!The program and university have a top ranking within Canada and a high international ranking relative to other business programs & universities. This

recognition, on top of the global network of alumni, makes it easier to find work outside of Canada in case I decide to travel. Plus, all of the RSM instructors I had in first year were incredible and it will probably only get better. I also liked the fact that in first year you are given an introduction to basically all aspects of business; economics, accounting, finance, marketing, & management. This makes it easier to understand what you enjoy learning about and helps in deciding which specialization you choose (for Years 2-4). Although some people see the rigorous program as a con, it actually motivates me to learn about how to learn more effectively, how to balance a busy schedule, & pushes me to step out of my comfort zone.  The closeness to Toronto is very beneficial when it comes to attending coffee chats with professionals and finding internships for the school year and/or summer.

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How often is collaborative work or group presentations required?

In first year, you have many required courses, including: MAT133 (math), ECO101 & ECO102 (economics), 1 full course equivalent elective (either 2 half year electives or 1 year long elective), and 4 RSM courses. The non-RSM courses (other than the electives) did not have any group work or presentations, but all the RSM courses had at least 1 group project. Based on last year, in a group of 5-6 students completed 1 big case study including a presentation for RSM250 (Marketing), in a group of 5-6 students performed a case competition (and presentation for semi-finalists) in RSM100 (Management), in a group of 5 students completed a few group projects for RSM230 (Financial Markets/Finance), and in a group of 3-5 students completed a 3-part accounting project together. This is what a 1st Year Rotman student completed last year, but it may be subject to change. Furthermore, there are many case competitions where you can participate in groups. In upper year courses it varies depending on what specialization you choose.

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JUICY

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What is some advice you would give high school students when applying to your program?

My supplementary application consisted of a 100-word paragraph that could be prepared beforehand, a 300-word response written on the spot, and a 90 second video interview. For this application I would suggest that students definitely should prepare the 100-word paragraph beforehand. For the 300-word response I would suggest to lay out any applications you have submitted in the past that you think you might extract info form. If you did not apply for any other programs or scholarships, then I would suggest researching typical questions they might ask (for example: “why did you choose business”) and try to come up with 3 points for each. I would assume the committee will consider both how good your writing is and the content. Don’t forget to reread your responses to avoid mistakes! For the video interview, make sure to speak clearly, confidently, look into the camera, have good posture and dress sharp! Try to stay calm and have a clear flow of speech.

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Which electives do you recommend that students take?

I took a year-long language course (SPA100- Spanish) and I absolutely loved it! It was fun and not nearly as much work as required Rotman courses. If you are decent at learning languages, & you participate & do the homework’s then it is an “easy A”. The actual content is not in depth, you learn very basic things since it’s a beginners course. The only downside is that you must attend 2 hour lectures & 2 hour tutorials each week for a full year which is quite a lot of class time compared to 1st year Rotman courses. They are also late at night, usually 6-8pm. Many other students take Astronomy 201 which is described as a “bird course”.

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What’s one misconception about UofT or your program?

This misconception applies to both the university and program: “It’s either your social life and health or your grades; there’s no way to find a balance”. This basically intends that if you don’t study all day every day you won’t get good grades. It is definitely viable to have a balance. To help with this, I would suggest that you learn how to learn effectively. It sounds funny but a lot of people don’t know how to study effectively and the amount of time you spend studying is usually not a direct correlation with your grades. Sleep, exercise, and proper diet are all key to memory. Furthermore, in business, many people say that your grades are not the most important thing when it comes to landing a job, rather it is networking. To have a balanced lifestyle you just have to find a schedule that works for you.

 

A very special thank you to our interviewee...

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EKATERNIA ROZANOVA

Hi my name is Ekaterina Rozanova and I am a 2nd Year student at the University of Toronto. I am Specializing in Accounting within the Rotman Commerce program. I am from Mississauga, ON. I love playing all kinds of sports and I love learning about various wellness topics. I have an Instagram account @dearwellnessdiaries that I am working on where I hope to post insightful info about wellness that fellow teens and young adults will find helpful ☺ Feel free to contact me at Ekaterina.rozanova@mail.utoronto.ca  or @katyrozanova (Instagram) about any questions you have about Rotman Commerce or wellness or food places near UofT!

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For a UofT International Development & Political Science Student...

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Why did you choose your program? What makes it unique to you?

I chose International Development because of the amazing opportunities I could have, as a student, to learn more about the world and the very different world views that are applied to my understanding of it. A big part of my program is understanding and defining development, which has not been properly established so I think that it is really neat to have the opportunity to understand development through different lenses and experiences. My program is unique because I get a little bit of research and socialization in my studies. I am able to work with others on sociological based projects while also researching and learning new things.

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What was your favourite elective in first year?

My favourite elective in first year had to be SOCA03, Introduction to Sociology. This class was AMAZING. It was so interesting and captured real life situations through the lens of sociological concepts. I was able to carry out sociological experiments and interviews while analyzing them through various phenomena and concepts learned in class. I highly recommend this class, it's a full year course and it definitely relates to everything you learn in University, despite your specific major. It specifically complimented my studies in International Development as I learned more about development through the ideologies and theories of various Sociologists and events in history.

QUESTIONS

JUICY

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What was the biggest challenge in transitioning from high school to uni and how have you overcome it?

Personally, the biggest challenge in transitioning from high school to university was finding an appropriate balance while adjusting to the hustle and bustle of the school year.  It is really easy to lose track of yourself when adjusting, which is why I highly recommend that you take advantage of the support given to you, as a student. It is so easy to lose track of your goals and due dates, causing you to fall behind and feel unmotivated. Just know that there are SO many students who are in the same position as you are, being confronted with the challenge of adjusting to University life. You are not alone, there are so many support systems available at the University such as Health and Wellness, Academic Advising, Counselling Services and many more. I am still in the process of adjusting myself, it sure isn't easy and takes a lot of time. But, with time you’ll see progress within yourself and others!

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What do you think is special about UofT's campus life?

UofT’s campus life is an excellent opportunity to be immersed in a family away from your own. Everyone on campus is eager to get to know each other and help in any way that they can. I strongly believe that UofT is a community of individuals who come from different walks of life but have similar goals and aspirations in life, to be better members of the world for one another. It is a campus founded on the basis of human connection and support. I have never met individuals who are so eager to help me when I have a question or reach out to me when I need

help. This was mainly the reason I chose

UofT, because of the amazing diversity and inclusion that is shown throughout the campus.

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What is some advice you would give high school students when applying to your program?

The biggest piece of advice I can give to a prospective student is to always look for volunteer opportunities that will enable your 

understanding of what international development entails. I highly suggest inquiring about opportunities at local community centres, not-for-profit organizations, youth councils and other establishments. It is really important for you to have your own definition of development and what that means to you, as a citizen of the world. I also suggest taking a look at the opportunities that SCSU (Scarborough Campus Students Union) and UTSU (University of Toronto Student Union) post on their Website and Instagram page. There are countless opportunities for you to get involved with, they're waiting for you to apply to them!

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Finally, what is the biggest misconception about UofT?

The biggest misconception about UofT has to be that no one has a social life aside from being a student. This is a big myth. Like I mentioned earlier, it is all about balance. As a student at UofT I have actually found that having a social life within school is so important and highly popular! Being in various group chats and meeting people in tutorials and lectures are a big part of your social life. I have met some of my life-long friends from my first year classes and believe it or not, we do hang out outside of school! UofT is not a place where people cry all the time and are moping over their exams constantly. Yes, we do feel sad and even stressed sometimes but that is totally normal, we pick right up again and we help each other out. UofT is a community of life-long learners who are determined to help one another succeed for the better of society. There are so many on-campus activities and events to encourage you to have a life outside of school and I have personally found them to be so helpful! They enable you to meet people in your program and outside of your program while engaging in dance parties, open mics, movie nights and other fun events!

 

A very special thank you to our interviewee...

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ALYSSIA FERNANDES

Alyssia is a second year student at the University of Toronto studying International Development and Political Science. After post-secondary, Alyssia hopes to pursue her masters degree in International Development where she will then (hopefully) work with high-risk and marginalized communities to continue progressing through various NGO development initiatives. She currently sits on the MLSE Launchpad Youth Council which advocates for sport for development. She works with the Political Science department at UofT where she is a research assistant. In her free time you can find her watching Netflix, drinking bubble tea or scrolling through TikTok, for hours. If you have any questions or want to just talk about life, school or literally anything else, reach out to her at alyssiafernandess@gmail.com!!

For a UofT Pharmacology, Neuroscience & Psychology Student...

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Why did you choose your program? What makes it unique to you?

From a young age, I always thought I would go to UofT St. George Campus (UTSG) for its Life Sciences program. My parents both studied biology/chemistry so, I was immersed in the life sciences early on. When I was in elementary school, my mom got both her BSc and BScN at UofT and became an oncology nurse at SickKids so there is some sentimental aspect too. My family background definitely nurtured my interest in science – I distinctly remember giving a class presentation on cancer in eighth grade by using my mom’s oncology textbooks and university lectures as resources. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was a pivotal moment for me – deciphering these complex concepts initiated a desire to further investigate the underlying mechanisms of disease. I chose to specialize in Pharmacology and Biomedical Toxicology (PharmTox) after taking a course on drug discovery and a biomedical research seminar in first year. These courses highlighted my passion for clinical research and novel neuropsychiatric therapeutic development. PharmTox stood out to me due to their plethora of research opportunities. PharmTox offers many research project courses (ex. PCL297), research abroad courses (ex. PCL397), and even undergraduate thesis projects (ex. PCL474, JPM400). I’m actually taking PCL297 right now and working on secondary analysis of genetic variants modulating subjective cannabis effects at CAMH. The specialist program offers a Professional Experience Year Co-op Program which entails a 12-16 month co-op placement between third and fourth year. In previous years, students had the opportunity to experience placements in both industry (ex. Sanofi Pasteur) and research (ex. Harvard, MIT). Ultimately, this program was a perfect match for me as it aligns with my interests and provides many research opportunities to foster my growth as a future scientist.

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What’s the biggest change from high school to university/college work and classes?

I think the biggest change transitioning from high school to university is the increase in independency. In high school, teachers may check in on students individually and discuss alternative learning strategies if they’re struggling. However, with class sizes of over a thousand students in first year courses, it’s impossible for professors and TAs to check on each student individually to monitor their learning. Instead, you gain more independency as you need to figure out which methods work for you, seek help from professors/TAs outside of class through office hours/appointments, and reach out to campus learning strategists if necessary. The other biggest change is more freedom in university. For many students, this will be their first time living alone so without professors or parents constantly checking in, no one is really forcing you to do work. Not all courses check attendance so sometimes people skip lectures too. It’s easy to get carried away with frosh events and social activities which can quickly lead to being behind on classes. I remember getting my course syllabi and thinking that I had plenty of time before midterms but the deadlines really do creep up on you. It’s important to establish a regular schedule or rhythm when it comes to university workload.

QUESTIONS

JUICY

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What do you think is special about your university’s campus life?

UTSG is located in the heart of Downtown Toronto so it’s next to literally everything – restaurants, shops/malls, museums, art galleries, and much more! I really enjoy going out to new places to eat with my friends after lectures like getting boba and pho from Chinatown, curry from Kensington Market, and bougie meals from Yorkville. Social activities can range from photography at Graffiti Alley and Allen Gardens to hiking at High Park and Don River Valley Park. In terms of what’s actually on campus, UofT has so many extracurriculars like charity organizations, mentorship, fashion, board games, drama, dance crews, dragonboat, judo – if you can name it, UofT’s probably got it (or you can even start a new club yourself)! Lastly, UofT’s campus life is special due to the diversity of its student population. I’ve met students from all over the world and from all walks of life that I wouldn’t have otherwise met if it hadn’t been for this university. I also think it’s so valuable to learn from individuals that come from different cultures and perspectives.

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How would you describe your first-year experience?

My first-year experience was filled with a myriad of emotions – it was stressful, amazing, rewarding, unforgettable, and fun. I’m not going to sugar-coat it – the initial transition was hard. It was overwhelming to be thrown into this new learning environment from adapting to the large class sizes to the fast pace of university lectures. However, with time, I learned to adjust to the environment and finish first year on a high note. Despite the rocky start, I think my first year was still extremely amazing because I got to meet my current group of friends. I became super close with my friends and we were able to make so many memories together whether that be frosh events, dumb inside jokes, or even creating our own language. First year was also rewarding because it was a time of personal growth for me as I’ve developed new perspectives based on the friends those I’m surrounded by. While I don’t have my whole life figured out at all, first year and the friends I’ve made have definitely changed me for the better. Overall, first year was an unforgettable experience filled with fun and it’s unfortunate that the pandemic cut it short.

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What is some advice you would give high school students when applying to your program?

At UofT, high school students are not directly admitted into a program but rather, a stream like life sciences, computer science, humanities, etc. At the end of first year, students then proceed to apply for their intended specialist/major/minor programs with their first year courses. So, getting into the PharmTox program is dependent on first year marks. I would advise for high school students to gain a strong understanding of concepts that they learn in advanced functions, calculus, biology, and chemistry if they’re aiming for PharmTox. These fundamental concepts will come up in first year when marks matter for program admission. For students who are on the fence about taking physics, it’s not mandatory for PharmTox consideration but may be important for certain professional or graduate programs. A general piece of advice for high school students though would be to abstain from solely focusing on marks. While marks do play a role in university applications, experience from extracurriculars, co-op, and work is what gives you those soft, transferrable skills to be successful in any future endeavour. Also, extracurricular activities can play an important role in securing merit-based entrance scholarships.

 

A very special thank you to our interviewee...

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MICHELLE WANG

Hi everyone! My name is Michelle and I’m currently a second year student at the University of Toronto (Victoria College). I’m doing a Pharmacology and Biomedical Toxicology Specialist, Neuroscience Major, and Psychology Minor. Currently, I’m a work study research assistant at a UofT consumer psychology lab and a research practicum student at CAMH studying cannabis pharmacogenetics. My research interests include memory consolidation, neural circuitry involved in implicit learning, and novel therapeutics for neuropsychiatric disorders. Besides research, I work as a veterinary assistant and a Victoria College Transition Mentor. In terms of extracurriculars, I’ve been a peer mentor for many different student programs and participated in university panels as a presenter. I’m also a Student Representive for Collective Scholars – a high school mentorship initiative. In my spare time, I love exploring the city, grabbing boba with friends, and watching true crime documentaries. If you have questions about university, research, or just want to chat, feel free to dm me on social media :)

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For a UofT Political Science and Philosophy Student...

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Why did you choose your program? What makes it unique to you?

Coming into university, I was already set on pursuing something related to politics and international relations based on my interests and love for reading and writing. Hoping to later work in advocating for human rights, majoring in political science provides me with a foundational understanding of international political institutions and how they can promote, protect, or deny these rights. However, my choice to double major in philosophy took me by surprise. I had no previous experience with philosophy. Nonetheless, my goal of taking a variety of courses in first year, led me to take the introduction to philosophy course (PHL101) that ended up being my favourite class and led me to apply to the philosophy program. Since then, I am so happy with my choice and am fascinated by political, moral, and continental philosophy. Both my programs are heavily reading and writing intensive (which I love) and provide lots of challenging concepts and theories which I think will develop useful knowledge and skills for my aspirations as a future law student!

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What is the class environment like?

The class environment will likely be new for almost all students, and it is simply a matter of adapting. My biggest class in first year had over 1000 students and the lectures took place in Convocation Hall! Though class sizes can be big, you will still have the chance at an active learning experience through the tutorials corresponding to your class typically comprised of around 20 students and one teaching assistant (TA). Most of my TAs have been PhD students along with a few graduate students who are generally very approachable and knowledgeable. In addition, there will always be many intelligent students around you in class and while some take this to create a competitive atmosphere, to me, it has been more of an inspiring environment where I get to learn from my peers and feel motivated to engage deeper. 

Lastly, a little thing I really enjoyed in first year was walking to my classes on UofT’s beautiful campus while listening to music. I hope we will get to experience that again soon!

QUESTIONS

JUICY

3

What’s your favourite class/elective and why?

What a tough question! I can truthfully say that there have only been rare instances where I didn’t fully enjoy taking a course, so it is pretty difficult to pinpoint a favourite. However, the Continental Philosophy course (PHL217) I took this past semester was one of the most engaging classes I have taken so far. We studied challenging concepts from philosophers like Hegel, Derrida, Heidegger, and Nietzsche, just to mention a few, and the essay prompts were very open providing an extra element of creativity for students to challenge themselves. The course was structured in a way where we read and discussed a philosopher’s work over a week or two, while continuously analyzing, comparing, and contrasting the works of newly learned philosophers with ones we studied in previous weeks. Overall, I was intrigued by the works of many of the philosophers we studied, and the course gave me a greater understanding and appreciation of philosophy itself.

2

How would you describe your first-year experience?

My first-year experience was positive and made me happy with my choice to study at UofT. In terms of academics, I had set interests and goals in mind coming into university, but I still had an open mind to pursuing different avenues. I took courses varying from an introductory computer science course learning Python to a history of philosophy and science course on biology. My diverse course selection made for a fun first year, and I now know that I won’t look back and think “what if” to other disciplines. I would recommend this to those who are unsure of what they would like to pursue as well as those who may know but are naturally curious (since you might end up developing a new interest as I did!). 

On the topic of college life, being located in downtown Toronto and being a part of a large student body can contribute to feeling lost. I felt that these circumstances made it more intimidating to make friends, especially as a more reserved person. Nonetheless, I stepped out of my comfort zone to meet as many people as I could in classes and extracurriculars. It is key to surround yourself with good people to support you through the transition to university and throughout your years here.

5

What is some advice you would give high school students when applying to your program?

Don’t stop reading for fun! I love challenging myself to read more, and I did this quite often throughout high school. Now that I get pretty heavy class readings, I don’t have as much time to read for leisure as I used to, but it is definitely possible to keep this in your schedule. I think high school is a great time to read more since you have the time to and it becomes a habit that will be very beneficial to you if you decide to pursue political science or philosophy. 

Lastly, once you’re at university, I would highly recommend being proactive in your learning. An example of this can be visiting your professor’s office hours if you have any questions or simply want to clarify anything that you weren’t sure of in lecture. I didn’t do this as much as I wished in first year, but I have now realized the importance of taking these extra little steps to get the most of my education. I often felt intimidated to go to office hours, until I realized that professors have purposefully facilitated that time to accommodate us and our questions. It is in an open environment which is an opportunity we shouldn’t miss out on!

 

A very special thank you to our interviewee...

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ARIEL MOON

I am a hard-working second-year student at the University of Toronto studying a double major in political science and philosophy. I have a passion for advocating for equity, human rights, and sustainable development, and I hope to pursue a career path based on these interests. As a student, I strive to work towards these passions as an active member of my community. Most recently, I have been engaged as the Jr Representative for Trinity College’s Community Affairs Committee and a volunteer music instructor with MusicBox, a children’s charity that provides music lessons to underprivileged children. In my free time, I love being outside doing activities like hiking and camping, and I enjoy music, playing the piano and violin and singing. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or simply to connect!

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