My School-Year Resolutions

Back in January, in the midst of all the New Year’s hype, I made the same general resolutions I always do: Eat healthier. Exercise more. Try harder at school. I’m not ashamed to say that I usually break them within a month, and continue on with my junk-food-laden, physically inactive, sleeps-through-lecture life.

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Add a box of Oreos and this is literally me. Source: www.ssandmann.tumblr.com

Well my friends, I sleep easy because my real resolutions start at the point in the year when I feel that my life is starting its next level: the school year!

It’s a ritual I’ve practiced since I was a little kid: Every year, I give myself the first day of school pep talk and think about my school year resolutions. What are my goals? What do I want to accomplish? What do I need to improve on?

After my rollercoaster ride of a first year here at U of T, I resolved to 1) Get more involved and 2) Attend ALL my lectures and tutorials. Sweet and simple. The result was an incredible second year, with better grades, more confidence and a happier Api (if that’s even possible).

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Happier than this?????

After much contemplation, here are my school year resolutions for third year:

1) Get help as soon as I need it. I have gotten a little better at this over the last 2 years. I attended the occasional office hour, I tried to ask questions at tutorials and I even got some guidance from the Academic Success Centre. But, I realize that running to the professor or TA one week before the final about a topic from the first lecture is probably not the best choice.

2) Relax more!  I’ve had issues with anxiety and stress in the past, so I’ve decided that I want to do something fun or relaxing to let loose every so often during the school year. I want activities that will cause me zero stress, like yoga classes at the Athletic Centre, or even one of the creative classes at Hart House!

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Unfortunately there are no rocks for me to relax and wistfully gaze off over the water on in the middle of the city.

3) Watch fewer TV shows.  Okay, this one sounds like one of those generic New Year’s resolutions, but hear me out. I am not a casual TV watcher. I am a fangirling, fictional-character-loving, Netflix-binge-watching TV show enthusiast. I have spent an embarrassing number of hours catching up on the week’s shows at Robarts (yes, even during exam season) and I think it’s time I put a stop to it. So please, if you ever catch me trying to stifle my laughter while staring at my laptop in a quiet study area, remind of this post and my public declaration to stop.

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My reaction when people tell me to stop watching TV. Source: www.cokelame.tumblr.com

So tell me U of T, what are your goals or resolutions for the year? Let me know down in the comments, or tweet me @Api_UofT!

Blue Sky Solar Racing

The B7 car competing in the 2013 World Solar Challenge. (via flickr.com/photos/blueskysolar)

The B7 car competing in the 2013 World Solar Challenge. (via flickr.com/photos/blueskysolar)

I first saw one of Blue Sky Solar Racing’s cars at Science Rendezvous, an all-ages event designed to generate interest in science. The sleek solar panel-covered creation glided down the road, chased by a group of excited children. While the students and parents standing around did not join in the chase, they were clearly just as excited and fascinated by the sun-powered car. Let’s face it, solar racing is awesome!

Blue Sky Solar Racing has existed at U of T for 18 years, during which they have built seven different cars.

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The bottom half of B7. There’s a little stuffed koala clinging to the cockpit!

Their main goal is to compete in the World Solar Challenge in Australia every two years. It’s an impressive feat: six days of driving from 8 am to 5 pm from the north to south end of the continent, recharging the car’s battery with the sun each morning. They drive on actual roads (alongside real cars!) so have to deal with traffic, weather and road conditions. It’s a lot to think about for a team of 20 student scientists, but they’re good at it; in 2013, Blue Sky came eighth out of 40 cars.

When they aren’t in Australia, the full 120-person Blue Sky team is busy designing, building and teaching people about solar cars. Last week, I had the chance to tour their workshop in the Engineering Annex building. The B7 car, in two separate top and bottom parts, took up most of the space, though there were tools and materials scattered all over the room.

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The underside of the top half of B7.

They are currently in the process of designing their next car, to be raced in 2015. The driver will be off to one side, in line with the wheels instead of in the centre like a traditional vehicle. This should make the car more aerodynamic, and hopefully the new car will end up weighing less than the B7’s 250 pounds (which is already less than a quarter of the weight of a regular car!).

Managing director Zhe Gong’s favourite part of being involved with Blue Sky is “watching other people and himself become better engineers and professionals” (though going to Australia is a nice perk!). Blue Sky is an incredible learning experience for everyone involved – it’s a chance to work on a multi-disciplinary and entrepreneurial project while still an undergrad.

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Some design ideas taking form. Note the picture of the thumbs-up guy in the top left corner!

Technical skills are certainly necessary to design and build a solar car from scratch, though there is a diverse range of students on the team. The business team is responsible for forming partnerships with industry and alumni to get materials and consultations, as well as recruiting for the team and promoting sustainable transportation to the community at large. Gong estimates that 10 per cent of the team does not have an engineering background. They even once had a director who was a philosophy student!

Keep an eye out for Orientation Sessions in September, though this is a club where entrepreneurial students who like to learn on their own will excel.

As a reminder that solar racing is an exciting thing to learn about, a group of high school students from the DEEP summer academy streamed in for a tour as I was leaving, full of questions about different parts of the car. Clearly Blue Sky gets people excited about science!

Mental Health and YOUniversity

I’ve noticed that most (i.e. all) of my posts have been humour-centric, and that’s perfectly fine because that’s who I am!

via: http://tinyurl.com/klvkwkq

This week, though, I want to talk about a topic that affects a lot of students – including myself. Mental health. More specifically, balancing your mental health with university.

Because most people consider me the happy-go-luckiest person they know, they are almost always surprised to learn that I struggle with clinical depression. With that being said, I want to make it clear that mental illnesses can affect anyone.

I remember being STRESSED (Wowza! Capitalized, bolded, italicized, and underlined!) in first year. Now that I think about it, I wasn’t stressed from the work itself. Most of my anxiety came from the stress of procrastinating during my bouts of depression. I was physically and mentally unable to do anything productive. I didn’t even take the time to do anything fun – like Facebook stalk middle school pictures of friends. I would just lie down and try to sleep for hours on end, until I was too awake to sleep. Even then, I still felt too drained to pull the “all-nighters” that people wouldn’t stop raving about.

Consequently, my grades weren’t nearly as stellar as they could’ve been, partly because of what I was dealing with, but mostly because I didn’t make an effort to ask for help. Until late into first year, I never asked for extensions, I never explained my problems – I never actively sought help.

That was the problem.

NO, NOT THIS PROBLEM. via: http://tinyurl.com/q3qkr9r

So many students think that their mental illness is inconsequential. Mental illness is not a synonym for lazy. It’s not. Just like diabetes is an illness, just like addiction is an illness – mental disorders are an illness.

Yep. via: http://tinyurl.com/kkysb5l

Eventually, I sought help, although it took a lot of encouragement from the caring people in my life.

I want to assure you that it’s perfectly okay to not be okay 100% of the time. There are so many individuals who feel the same way you do, and the university knows that.

Professors aren’t robots, if you tell them what’s going on, they will listen. It’s not their mission to ruin your grades – they want to help you. If you’re going through distress, don’t be afraid to contact them. Whether it is through email or in-person, they will almost always understand, and together, you can decide on a mutually appropriate solution regarding an academic matter.

What I used to think professors were like. Whoops. via: http://tinyurl.com/kkysb5l

It doesn’t stop there. Never forget that in each college and faculty, there are wonderful registrars who can help guide you. They can help you with talking to your professors, and they can even aid you if you feel that you would benefit from CAPS (Counselling and Psychological Services) or Accessibility Services.

Never forget that you’re not alone, and there are people that care. Don’t lose out on your university experience because you think your problems aren’t real. I abandoned that mindset, and I think my life’s pretty rad right now.

And when in doubt, listen to Des’ree.

My Summer Bucket List

I think that we’re all inevitably guilty of using the phrase “oh, I really want to do that this summer.” Try that new class at the gym? I’ll do it when I have lots of free time over the summer. Go to that new food truck? Oh that sounds awesome, I’ll do it one weekend this summer. That new book everyone’s reading? Definitely sounds like the perfect thing to do by the pool over summer.

I am guilty of using this phrase, so when I woke up this morning and realized there are essentially 5 weeks left of summer, I couldn’t help but panic a little at all the things I had promised myself I would do. But between working two jobs and catching up with friends from home, it’s not that I haven’t wanted to do all these things – I just haven’t made the time.

Some of my summer adventures so far!

Some of my summer adventures so far!

Optimistically however, there are still five weeks left of summer. That’s 25 week days, 5 weekends, and hundreds of opportunities to make this the best summer yet, and hopefully I can inspire you to get started. Here are the Top 6 Things I want to do Before the End of the Summer.

1. Get food from a food truck on campus.

Whether it’s poutine from the fry truck or noodles from the Chinese food truck, I want to revel in the fact that I can sit outside in the sun and enjoy this without my fingers freezing off.

2. Get a book from a library and read it on a grassy space.

I mean taking a picture of it kind of defeats the whole "no technology thing" but still..

I mean taking a picture of it kind of defeats the whole “no technology thing” but still..

Luckily Amie has me covered with some beautiful hidden spaces at U of T, all I need to do is pick one and check out a book. There’s something novel about putting down your smart phone, taking out your earphones, and actually enjoying reading.

3. Attend a campus event.

If you’re like me you have a tendency to forget that campus life exists all 12 months of the year. Organizations like the USTU are always posting about summer events that get you back on campus, and getting involved. I haven’t checked this one off yet, but I think I’m going to start by attending the UTSU Caribana party and parade on July 30th.

4. Get your finances in order for next year.

This sounds like a boring one, it’s something that I promised myself I would do this summer and I still haven’t. If you’re like me and hearing the word budget sends shivers down your spine,  considering checking out different budgeting and financial resources, such as the Government of Canada budget planner or even these online tools from banks such as CIBC and TD Canada Trust It’s better to plan now, than stress later.

5. Greet incoming freshman using the #StartUofT hashtag!

See some familiar faces in there? Join the #StartUofT selfie gang. Images via. https://twitter.com/search?q=startuoft&src=typd

See some familiar faces in there? Join the #StartUofT selfie gang. Images via. https://twitter.com/search?q=startuoft&src=typ

I’ve made it my goal to check the #StartUofT hashtag every day and check out what incoming freshmen are saying about coming to U of T. It’s just a little way to remind myself how excited people are to be coming back to school, and letting it their excitement rub off on me. You can even join the #StartUofT selfie train by printing out this name tag and posting your selfie on twitter.

6. See an outdoor movie.

Toronto's awesome sail-In cinema. Image via. http://www.sailincinema.com/media.aspx

Toronto’s awesome sail-In cinema. Image via. http://www.sailincinema.com/media.aspx

Toronto has hundreds of different locations where you can catch a free flick outdoors. Everyone’s heard of classic events like TIFF in the park, but I’m dying to head down to the waterfront for the sail-in cinema. Check out a full list here, pack some popcorn, and enjoy this unique opportunity while you can.

So this is how I’m going to make the best of the rest of my summer. Is there anything missing off my list? Anything you’ve already done that you’re just dying to share? Leave it in the comments below or tweet it to me at @Rachael_UofT.

Navigating the Maze of Extracurriculars

I spent much of my first year in a daze of lectures, coffee and homework, so I wasn’t as involved as I would have liked. But eventually, I was able to participate in some clubs and now I’m even a member of Juxtaposition Global Health Magazine’s executive team! Looking back, I realize that it’s not always easy for everyone to find those one or two clubs that they are passionate about. So, I decided to map out my path so far to help navigate the maze of student organizations on our beautiful campus!

Try out everything. Seriously. – I bounced around a few clubs and I went to a few events before I came across Juxta. I searched through Ulife and the UTSU clubs directory to find things that suited my interests! I also got on a few mailing lists by signing up for every club in sight at the UTSU Annual Clubs fair. They also have free stuff, and if that isn’t reason enough to come, then I don’t know what is.

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Clubs fair AKA where Api likes to get free stuff (and crazily sign up for everything) – www.orientation.utsu.ca

 

Think about what YOU like – There are so many clubs at U of T you’re bound to find something you like. And once you find it, think about what you want to do with them. I have a lot of experience in planning events and it’s something I have a lot of fun doing, so I applied for the events co-director position with Juxta. That way I could do something I was good at and had experience in, while still being immersed in the global health community at U of T.

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Seriously though, do you understand why I love ulife? LOOK AT ALL THOSE CATEGORIES – www.ulife.utoronto.ca

Social media is your friend! – I found out about Juxta through a Facebook page of another group, and I found out about their executive team positions through their Twitter account. Social media is a great way to get a better idea of the club in question if they don’t have any upcoming events.

Get ready for some work! – This one is pretty obvious, but let me explain. If you take on any sort of leadership role, in entails a fair amount of work. The catch is that when you love what you’re doing it doesn’t feel like work. The last few months with Juxta, combined with my summer job and summer courses have felt overwhelming at times, but nothing is more rewarding than seeing the results of your hard work.

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Ulife asks the hard hitting questions.

You don’t need me to preach about joining clubs and getting involved because it’s an idea we encounter a lot as university students. It’s not the easiest thing to do when there are so many different opportunities, but I can assure you, navigating the clubs at U of T is worth it when you start to meet like-minded individuals, get invaluable experience and build a sense of community!

If you want to know more about Juxtaposition, then fear not, I will likely be tweeting about it nonstop!

Let me know down in the comments about how you found your favorite clubs or what clubs you want to join!

A Musical Treasure Hunt

John Southworth playing in St. Andrew's Church, Poor Pilgrim Island Show 2014.

John Southworth playing in St. Andrew’s Church, Poor Pilgrim Island Show 2014.

I spent this past Sunday on a musical treasure hunt on Toronto Island. The Poor Pilgrim Island show has been running for seven years, and I’ve made it a summer tradition for the past three. After a brisk ferry ride, a crowd of a hundred or so people gather at a series of scenic locations – Snake Island, Ward’s Beach, St. Andrew’s Church – to experience a diverse set of bands.

As I listened to Doomsquad build songs around windchimes, I found myself thinking about how live music has been the single most central and important part of my experience at U of T and in Toronto. Easy access to cultural events was a big part of why I chose to come here in the first place, and I’m glad that I’ve taken advantage of that!

I’ve always been a dedicated music fan, though my first forays into concert-going were defined by nervousness. I was still carrying many misperceptions: that all ages shows didn’t exist, that you had to go with friends, and that students can’t afford to go to many shows regularly.

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Prince Nifty circa 2013.

Yet a week after my 19th birthday I heard about a show that I didn’t want to miss. None of my friends were willing or able to come along, so I was faced with a choice to venture out solo or stay home and watch a movie. I mapped out my TTC routes and went anyway, bringing along a book to fill the time in between bands. Doing what is normally a social event by yourself can be nerve-wracking at first, but seeing new and familiar musicians create magic live made me feel so full that I just kept doing it.

I started to write about the shows I was seeing for a local music blog and U of T’s music magazine. Mostly in an attempt to share how excited I was about the music I was seeing, but also to give me motivation to keep seeing as many shows as I could. At my high point in second and third year, I was averaging 2-3 shows a week and binge-covering major festivals.

OG Melody at Poor Pilgrim 2012.

OG Melody at Poor Pilgrim 2012.

The misperceptions I had at the beginning disappeared: all ages shows are everywhere (check out anything that takes place in a record store, or outside), no one notices if you’re on your own (it can actually be even better to not have to worry whether the friend you dragged along is enjoying the music), and ticket prices run more in the $5-10 range if you explore venues like Handlebar or The Silver Dollar rather than the ACC.

And though I’ve slowed down a bit to focus on other writing (anyone want to hire a full-time concert reviewer? No?), the most important thing I found in Toronto’s music scene is community. It’s been amazing meeting like-minded people to share amazing cultural experiences with.

It’s so important to find your niche at a big school like U of T, and you’ll find it by exploring things that ignite a fire in you. Be brave! Explore!

In case you need some places to find concert listings, try NOW Magazine, blogTO’s music section and Mechanical Forest Sound’s weekly concert listing roundups.

A History Student’s Guide to UTSG Campus

The other day I was thinking about the summer before my first year and how excited I was to start at U of T; at this point 2 years ago, (2 weeks into my summer vacation) I already had a detailed packing list, thought I had my entire degree planned out, and was just all around super keen. I knew where I would be living and had toured my college a couple of times however one thing that I didn’t know much about was where my actual classes would be. I had heard a lot of History classes were at Sid Smith (which I vaguely remembered from my U of T tour) but aside from that I was clueless.

Now halfway through my History Specialist I’ve taken quite a lot of History classes in a variety of buildings so I thought I would put together a post showing some of the locations of History Classes. If you aren’t planning on being a History major you may still find this useful as a lot of VIC, English, History and Philosophy of Science, and French classes take place in these buildings at Victoria College as well.

 

Isabel Bader Theatre (BT) only has one lecture hall but it’s probably the nicest lecture hall I’ve been in at U of T. If you take HIS109 it will probably be in here along with some of the larger second year classes.DSCF3591DSCF3588  

Northrop Frye (NF) has a mixture of lecture halls and smaller classrooms plus a lot of professor’s offices.DSCF3613DSCF3615

Emmanuel College (EC) is also at Vic and is mainly used for tutorials. It’s super handy when you have a class at Bader or Northrop Frye and a tutorial right after at Emmanuel.DSCF35681

Sidney Smith Hall (SS) is where the History Department is located (up on the second floor) and also hosts quite a few classes and even more tutorials. I don’t think I’ve had a semester go by without a tutorial in here. Sid Smith also houses the Linguistics, Political Science, Psychology, Stats, and Geography departments and due to it’s location on St. George, it’s ample seating areas, and the Sid Smith Cafe it’s a pretty busy hub of student life. DSCF3644

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The history department (including the student lounge where TA’s will often hand back/accept essays) is behind these doors. It’s on the second floor when you go up the stairs at the north end of Sid Smith and took me about 20 minutes and 5 text messages to find it in first year.

Lash Miller Chemical Laboratories (LM) doesn’t seem like a spot in which you would find people learning about Russian History but because U of T is a mysterious place in which many things do not make sense many a history course takes place here right along side science classes. It’s right next to Sid Smith on St. George street so it’s pretty convenient if you have a block of classes in a row that are all in mysterious science buildings. DSCF3655

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mysterious window decorations

 McLennan Physical Laboratories (MP) is another example of U of T not making sense. There is a tiny little place in this building where you can buy snacks and also chocolate soymilk which is a necessity on days when you have long blocks of class and no time to eat. DSCF3661DSCF3666    

Lillian Massey Building is not a history building but I just love the history behind it. It used to be the department of household sciences for the women at U of T in the early 1900s but now houses the classics department (who couldn’t have picked a more appropriate building) and a Club Monaco. The inside is basically all marble and has really pretty stained glass windows.  DSCF3639 DSCF3627 DSCF3625        

Convocation Hall is also not a history building but if you’re entering your first year at U of T it is very likely that you will have a class in here. It’s big and imposing but if you sit near the front or on one of the sides you forget about the fact that there are 1200+ students sitting in there too. I’ve also heard many a tale of it having wifi now but I don’t know if I believe that. DSCF3672

So there you go! A little post that hopefully helps you see where you might be taking classes come September. Once you enrol in your courses on ROSI you’ll be able to see the location codes and plug them into this map so that you’re ready for September!

Ondiek’s Declassified Non-Res School Survival Guide

You’re finally done high school! But you have one “problem”… and no, it’s not that Ariana Grande song. The problem is that you’re not living on residence next fall. You’re probably experiencing a major case of the FOMO.

Well, don’t.

No, no, no! Trust me! via: http://tinyurl.com/cwfwhqt

You’ve got 99 problems, but not living on res won’t be one.

Once upon a time, when I was young, and thought quarter life crises’ were a joke – I too experienced the same first year non-res worries.

But, as tacky as it sounds, your university experience is shaped by how dedicated you are. Non-res or not!

Me getting ready for the non-res life. via: http://tinyurl.com/ngvvzor

Here’s what I did to make the most of my non-res experience!

1. FROSH WEEK!  You’ve probably heard the word ‘frosh week’ a zillion times now. I cannot stress how important frosh week was to me in having a brilliant non-res experience in my first year. It was especially vital considering the fact that I attend the very tight-knit Slyther—I mean Trinity College. Having a small community like Trin means it’ll inevitably be a little bit like high school – you’ll want to get a sense of comfortability, since you’ll end seeing these people very frequently. It’s at frosh week where you’ll meet your peers, and eventually break that metaphoric brick of ice. Now, I’m not saying you’ll meet all your friends at frosh week, or even stay friends with some of them, but what I am saying is that it’s important that you feel comfortable enough to visit your college or faculty after frosh week is over. If you feel comfortable enough to visit your home-away-from-home on a regular basis, then you will be able to avoid the dreaded non-res abyss! Also, I haven’t stated the obvious, frosh week is really, really fun!

For all you Trin frosh!

P.S. If you don’t feel comfortable attending frosh week at your college or faculty for personal reasons – don’t fret. U of T has a wonderful alternative orientation called Kickstart. It’s geared towards students who feel the same way you do. There you’ll meet people you have common interests with and you’ll experience your own version of fun.

2. GO TO EVENTS! GET INVOLVED!  No, not just your college or faculty sanctioned events (but try and go to those too!). One great thing about going to university is the magic of attending rad student-run parties on res. On top of having a really great time, you’ll feel like you’re a part of the res community. Like it or not, you will become a fixture!

Viva Adore Delano via: http://tinyurl.com/leengg2

And if you’re not the “party” type, there are other ways to get involved! Getting involved will make you more comfortable in establishing relations with your peers. This year, I started the Trinity College Finer Things Club, and I got to bond with my friends over Space Jam while eating McDonald’s Olympic boxes! Also, writing for the Varsity let me attend their many fun (and totally professional) holiday get-togethers!

3. STAY OVER! I know you’re all going to find friends; like, those attached-at-the-hip Zoey 101 type of friends. But, instead of talking about Vespas and LaSenza Girl clothing, they’ll probably be asking you if you want to stay over instead of relinquishing you to the mythical blue midnight buses. These friends will be your rocks. You’ll find solace in knowing you’ll have a place to sleep after a long night of first year shenanigans. Trust me – nothing builds camaraderie like walking around with in your pajamas with your peers at 3pm on a Sunday.

Sometimes your friends give you a whole cake to eat in the privacy of their rooms. Bad idea.

So, good luck my fellow non-res frosh! I hope to hear all your stories soon!

 

 

 

 

Choosing Your Courses for the First Time! 

It was only a year ago that I was an incoming freshmen, so when I say I “remember feeling anxious and nervous about choosing my courses” I actually mean it. It was literally only twelve months ago. I remember the uneasiness of not knowing which courses to take, the anxiety of waiting to find out your start time, and that feeling of disappointment when you don’t get into a class you really wanted to take.

But I’m here to tell you I survived, and you will too! I ensure you that it’s not as daunting as it seems, but you’re also not crazy for being anxious about it. I hear rumours that even the mystical fourth years (who often seen to us like they have this whole University thing down pat) get nervous and anxious too.

I survived course selection and even made it to my first day of class. (where I was clearly more concerned with getting the perfect instagram picture, I couldn't even remember how scary course selection had been!)

I survived course selection and even made it to my first day of class. (where I was clearly too concerned with getting the perfect instagram picture, I couldn’t even remember how scary course selection had been!)

So while this post won’t secure your a coveted early morning time slot, or help you choose between Intro to Mythology and Introduction to Physical Geography, here’s what I learned from going through course selection for the first time.

#1: Do Your Research! 

Course selection is different for every faculty, and even every program, so depending on what you’re studying plan to make one of the following websites your new best friend;

I learned the hard way that there’s nothing worse than spending the entire night before course selection trying to navigate through subjects and choose your courses! Get familiar with the calendar and write down the course codes of any and all the courses that interest you. You can go back and narrow down this list later, but it helps to feel comfortable navigating the abyss that is the U of T course calendar.

#2: Make a draft schedule! And then another… And then another… 

You can never have too many schedule options! Using tools like Griddy, or even just an excel document on your computer, make your perfect schedule. Now repeat this same process, but using almost entirely different courses. Now repeat this again. And again.

Griddy is an awesome tool that helps you plan our your schedule! Check it out by clicking this picture

Griddy is an awesome tool that helps you plan our your schedule! Check it out by clicking on this picture

I tried to have about four different variations of what my schedule and courses could look like. And while they got less and less appealing (the last schedule I made consisted of courses I would only take if I had to) I ended up with something in between my first and last choice.

#3: Check your times and set an alarm! 

Arts & Science students can use this webpage to find when their start time will appear on ROSI (ROSI will add another menu option on the left hand side of the page that says “view start time”).

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Once you have your start time, make sure to set a couple of alarms in case you need to get up early – or stop what you’re doing in the middle of the day. I know a lot of people also book off their course selection day from work. This may be a good option if you don’t have a flexible work environment with access to a computer and internet

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#4: Do the Prep Work! 

While it might seem a little crazy, last year I set up a work station. I laid out my essentials; a computer, a print-out of my potential schedules (a calendar version and a list of the course codes), and a list of some other courses that I could use as fillers and back-ups.

Then I made sure my computer is fully charged, my wifi connection was strong, and I began to brave course selection.

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I think I just really like organized work stations…

This is how I survived first year course selection, and it’s how I plan to survive again this year. Hopefully I was able to de-bunk some of the course selection myths, and give you a couple tips and resources to make the whole process go easier. If you still have questions, don’t forget that there are hundreds of resources out there designed to help you through this! You can always call or email your registrartalk to your program sponsor, or even check out tools like FastAnswers (for A&S students) where you can type in questions or choose from the most frequently asked!

How do you prepare for course selection? Is there anything I’m missing that I should add to my regime this year? Maybe some extensive finger stretching and strengthening in preparation? Or an ergonomic keyboard that allows me to type my course code 0.01 seconds faster? Leave them in the comments below or share them with me on twitter at @Rachael_UofT

An Ode to the Work-Study Program

As the summer unwinds, we get closer and closer to that time of year! No, I’m not talking about course selection, or frosh week or even Ribfest (although I should be, I mean have you tried those ribs?!). As the end of the summer draws closer, it means it’s time for…WORK-STUDY POSTINGS! Do you want to have a cool, fun job, where you can pretend to ‘adult’ (whatever that means), while still getting the most out of university? Then fear not my friends, for you have come to the right place!

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Nothing quite says ‘adult’ like taking selfies at your desk during work

A quick background on the work-study program: The work-study program is offered to help students develop their professional skills through various jobs on campus. The jobs run for the majority of the term (either summer or fall/winter). To be eligible, you need to be taking a minimum of a 40% course load. The best part is that you only have to work a maximum of 12 hours per week, so you have plenty of time to study, participate in student groups, or pursue other things you love!

In my first two years here, I didn’t think I would really benefit from a work-study position, since I already had a part time job. I finally decided to apply during my summer school term. and trust me, it was no easy task, but definitely worth it. The first day the positions opened on the Career Learning Network (CLN), there were over 500 postings. Thankfully, the CLN has some pretty nifty filters that you can use to find jobs that suit you. Cover letters and tailored resumes tend to feel like the bane of my existence, so I ended up using some of the online resources from the CLN and U of T’s career centre website. Tucked away in Koffler Student Services Centre is the Career Centre, where you can even get one-on-one help with a career educator!

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Actual early version of my cover letter.

After polishing up my resume and cover letter, and applying to about 12 different positions, I landed a few interviews. Finally, I got an amazing research assistant position at the the Institute for Health Policy, Management and Evalution (AKA my dream job as an undergraduate in health studies).

This is why I love the work-study program so much, and I regret not applying to it earlier. You get the same experience without the time commitment of a full-time job. Although some people take to balancing school, work and life really well, for me, it’s not the easiest thing to accomplish. The work-study allows you to have more time. I used my time this summer for another job, summer courses and some relaxing!

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#TBT to that time I relaxed a little too much

So mark your calendars, U of T! Postings go up on Monday, July 28th. Don’t miss out! If you have and questions or concerns about how to apply or how it works, let me know in the comments, or on Twitter at @Api_UofT!