Why did you choose your program? What makes it unique to you?
Currently, I’m a double major in Sociology and Political Science. When I first applied to UofT, I was in the Sociology program so I decided to take most social science courses in my first year because I was interested in also double majoring in international relations. However, after talking eco105 my first year I learned that maybe economics and international relations weren’t for me. I chose to go
with political science instead as a lot of
international relations majors are required to take a political science class and I simply found myself enjoying political science more. My 2 majors stand out to me as I am interested in race relations and international politics which both majors provide very interesting courses in these topics. I find that sociology and political science are a good combination and sometimes intersect with each other.
For a Political Science & Sociology Double Major Student...
What is some advice you would give high school students when applying to your program?
One key advice I have for students that want to get into Political Science
or Sociology is looking at the requirements and future classes that are offered. As a first year, it is hard to fully grasp what kind of program you are getting yourself into. A lot of classes in poli sci and sociology require you to have taken their first-year classes, pol101 and soc100 and soc105. Therefore, you should make sure you take those classes in your first year so in second year you can take more classes without feeling restricted. I also recommend looking at what classes the program department offers and if that is what piques your interest. As a first year you may not know all that sociology entails as it as many subcategories like mental health sociology, race and ethnicity sociology, political sociology and criminal sociology, etc. By looking at what is offered for your second, third, or fourth-year classes you will have an idea of what kind of courses are available and if it is what you want to do for your next 3 years.
Do you feel there's a good support/transition program for freshman students?
UofT has thousands of clubs and mentorship programs so if you are looking for transition programs than it definitely is something UofT can provide. However, UofT has been criticized - for good reason - for their poor mental health support system. As it is known that UofT puts a lot of pressure on students to succeed academically but do not have the resources need to support students that may be struggling. Recently, UofT has owned up to their poor mental health recourses, claiming to be trying to make things better and allow for better accessibility but very little has been changed. Looking outside the bureaucratic system at UofT, many student groups have focused on the wellness of students, for example, clubs like St. Mike’s Wellness and Healthy Minds. UofT is lacking and needs to take accountability for its students and inaccessible mental health system but in the meantime, there are still a lot of student groups and clubs that have the resources that UofT themselves may not be able to provide.
How would you describe your first year at UofT?
I would describe my first year experience as unexpected. There were no big expectations of how the university would be like because I am a first-generation student. However, I quickly learned that being at UofT was really different than many other schools my friends went to. UofT is very academic-based which I didn’t expect- honestly, I just imagined university as what I saw in the movies. But UofT really is hardcore in how they are perceived and the expectations of students. I definitely was stressed out and had many lows but I met a lot of my best friends at UofT that filled up my life with a lot of love and joy. I also fell in love with living in the city, I am from a very small town up north so coming to downtown Toronto felt so different in all the good ways. I loved the freedom and independence that came along with studying in downtown Toronto. I didn’t expect to meet so many great people, create a lot of fun memories, and
also hit some academic lows :(. Overall, even when I had some bad times academically at UofT, I like to focus more on the thing I achieved outside of the academic circle.
How would you describe the workload and work-life balance?
The workload is very heavy at UofT especially for those at are in engineering or computer science. As a social science student, the workload is just as stressful. In certain
classes, you will have assignments every week or big essays due every other week and often times have tests or assignments due on the same day. Some classes have big finals or assignments that are worth almost 50% of your grade so things can get overwhelming. I was able to balance both working part-time, academics, and having a social life so it is doable but you really have to plan. It is your own responsibility to keep up with the workload and make sure you hand things in on time as many profs at UofT are known to be stubborn and not care for the student- especially when you are just 1 person in a thousand-person first-year class. Although all this may sound discouraging but it's essential to figure out what is most important to you, I personally made sure that school came first. If I knew I would have to go to work on the week of my exam I would ask for the week off to study or if my friends ask to go after class but I had a paper due I would come back home early enough to finish my paper. I didn’t think of things as sacrifices just that they may be less important at the time, its really all about time management.
A very special thank you to our interviewee...
Hi!! I'm Leanne, an upcoming 4th year at the University of Toronto. I am a Political Science and Sociology double major. I am interested in the fields of race/ethnicity and international politics, through my studies I am able to learn and understand systems of inequalities and conflicts. I am passionate about social justice and always looking to develop my skills for effective activism. Outside of academia, I love films (my favourite movie is Chungking Express and I firmly believe that everyone should watch it), painting, reading, and visual art media. My youtube channel is usually the place I talk most about my university and UofT experience so if you have any questions please don't hesitate and comment on my videos or message me on Instagram.