Uncensored: UTSG v. UTSC

I always hear it: “St. George campus is too difficult” or “UTSC is too much like a high school”.

Well, here it is! The uncensored perspectives of students who study at downtown St. George campus (UTSG) and Scarborough campus (UTSC), and a student who has studied at both. It all comes straight from the horses’ mouths, and is intended to give you a perspective of both the campuses from outside the administrative position.

A series of nine questions have been asked to a student from UTSC, UTSG, and both.


Q1: Tell me about yourself. What campus do you study at, what year are you in, and what do you study?

Student (UTSC): I am a second year International Management student from Malaysia at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus.

Student (UTSG): I study at UTSG, I am in 2nd year, and I’m doing a double major in Sociology and Criminology.

Both: I spent one year at UTSC, and one year at St. George campus. Currently, I study downtown as a Criminology Major, with a minor in Political Science and Dramatic Arts.

Q2: Have you ever visited St.George/UTSC (whichever campus you don’t study at)? What do you think of the campus and the students?
Student (UTSC): Yes i have! The campus is amazing in terms of resources and architecture. It is what students would imagine and expect a university to be like. I’ve noticed that at the St. George campus, student life doesn’t seem to be as coherent as at Scarborough. I don’t know much about it, because I haven’t experienced it.
Student (UTSG): I have visited Scarborough campus! I think it has its pros and cons. Being able to travel through a few buildings that are fairly close together is definitely a positive aspect in comparison to UTSG’s huge campus. On the other hand, I definitely noticed a difference in the student atmosphere at Scarborough. Students seem to be more united as a university. There’s more of a community feeling there, which is something I wish UTSG had.
Both: As I’ve studied at both campuses, I’m very comfortable with both. When I think of UTSC, I think the campus is intimate and has a communal student body. I think UTSG is a beautiful campus with a very academic student body. I find the student body at UTSC to be communal but the student life to be a bit dull, and I find the student body at St. George to be overtly confident and very competitive.
Q3: When you applied, what made you choose your campus to study at?
Student (UTSC): It was a second choice for me, but I’m glad I ended up here because of the diversity and communal feeling that exists on this campus.
Student (UTSG): My parents were a heavy influence on my decision to attend this campus, and my sister completed her degree here. I had been to the campus on P.A. days and I knew it was a beautiful campus which had the atmosphere of a university.
Both: Initially, when I chose Scarborough campus I chose it for the Dramatic Arts prgram. When I decided to couple with that with Criminology, the only option was to attend St.George campus (because Scarborough didn’t offer that program).
Q4: What is the student experience like at your campus?
Student (UTSC): Student-professor relationships are easier to create here, I think, because class sizes are smaller, and the professor has plenty of time to provide individual help. Some of the professors take time to care and look out for the students who need help and/or support.
Student (UTSG): Academically, I find it very isolating. In every class, I’d say the professor might “know” 5% of the students, and the word “know” is used loosely. Most professors don’t know students by name, but might recognize a student’s face outside of class. In some cases, the TAs compensate for this lack of connection, by making personal relationships with students, but this not close the gap by very much. It’s definitely a shock, jumping from high school to university. In high school the teacher knows your name, your writing style, your friends, and various details about your personal life! I think I preferred high school. But I understand that university is preparing you for the “real world”, where you have to work hard to be in that top 5% that gets noticed.
Both: During the year I spent at UTSC, I enjoyed the experience because it was a good transition from high school. It was a university, but it wasn’t an overwhelming experience. UTSC provided me with the opportunity, even as a commuter student, to get involved with clubs and school events. There weren’t many clubs as there are at downtown campus, but whatever was available was very accessible to students. Moving to St. George campus really changed my perspective on student life. At St. George, there were so many more clubs, so many more perspectives, but it was more difficult to get involved. Ironically, I had more of a student life experience at Scarborough campus as a commuter than I do as a student in residence at St. George campus.
Q5. What are three strengths about your campus?
Student (UTSC): A strength about Scarborough campus is a diversity that we can enjoy and celebrate as one group because we have a smaller community, As well, have a decent-size campus where, after a while, faces become familiar. It becomes more like big communal family even if you don’t know everyone.
Student (UTSG): One strength is that the campus is beautiful, and wonderful to look at. Competitive grading is another aspect – and while it can seem like a weakness, when you receive an 80%, you know you really deserved it. Third, students are taught by very knowledgable Professors. I’m always surprised to hear the amount of research, and the types of degrees that my professors have. It really makes you feel like you’re learning from the best.
Both: One strength is that almost all of the buildings at Scarborough campus are connected underground. That is such a blessing, especially when I have to walk for almost 30 minutes downtown in the freezing cold. An underground path system is a brilliant addition to a campus. Second, the professors at Scarborough campus show so much more interest in student development. In many (but not all) cases, the professors know the students names, make an extra effort to extend office hours, and take the time to get to know students. I found, as a student at Scarborough, that professors and TAs were much more willing to discuss assignments and provide clarity. Professors/TAs appeared to be less concerned about keeping the class average low than those at downtown campus, and if you took the initiative, professors at Scarborough were more than willing to help. Third, at UTSC, students care a lot more about each other. There is an effort extended from students to make friends, student groups, and studying partners. Sharing notes, old test papers and studying tips came with no strings attached.
From St. George campus, the strengths include an aesthetic campus which looks and feels like a university, and provides a setting which is inspiring to learn 🙂 St. George campus has incredible breadth for courses and resources. Its remarkable how many academic opportunities are available for students on this campus. The worst thing for a student is to attend university and settle for a course you didn’t really want because it wasn’t available. Many times at Scarborough, I would look through the handbook and find courses I liked, only to discover they hadn’t been offered for three years, or they were only offered every other year. Downtown never has a shortage of interesting and stimulating courses. The resources are abundant as well – great study spaces, easy wireless internet access, incredible sources of books, videos and online journals. Third, St. George campus has an incredible teaching core. Most of my professors this year have been stellar, and have shown not only a duty to, but a passion to teach well. The quality of teaching is significantly higher, in my experience, at downtown campus.
Q6: What are three weaknesses about your campus?
Student (UTSC): Because the campus is located in a very different area than downtown, its harder to go out and have fun. Other problems include some buildings have no [wireless] reception or enough electrical outlets in them, and that there are too many liability restrictions when holding social events.
Student (UTSG): Competitive grading can be a weakness. Professors and TAs tend to get caught up in the idea that UTSG has a high standard, and that sometimes turns into unfair marking. The campus, in regards to number of students, is too large. I think that everyone would benefit from a learning environment if it was smaller. UTSG also lacks a balance between extra-curricular activities and academics. There are plenty of clubs to join and many ways to get involved in this school, but it doesn’t match up with the excessive course load. There just isn’t enough time to do all the work and get involved.
Both: At UTSC, the many of the teachers don’t seem passionate about teaching. Don’t get me wrong – they are highly qualified and very knowledgable, but they seem more interested in researching than teaching. They are very helpful with students, but not very passionate about teaching and their lack of interest in the material transfers onto students, which makes the students less passionate. Another problem I had with UTSC was it was too small. There was nowhere I could go to really get lost in the school – to go somewhere private to hang out, study, or relax. Third, I constantly found that there wasn’t enough study space. I was always waiting in line for a computer, or a study place, or a quiet space, and on top of that, there was NEVER enough outlets. That was a BIG problem.
Q7: Describe a myth about your campus, or an unfair perception that students at other UofT campus have about UTSC which is not true.
Student (UTSC): A common myth that I hear is that we’re more of a high school than a university. We have more students that are adjusting to being in a new environment and for international students like myself, a new country. University may not seem like a big change from high school, but after the first semester, its surprising how different it is, how it becomes a place where people are constantly growing academically and as individuals.
Student (UTSC): Well I’m not sure if this applies between UTSC and UTSG, but whenever I tell someone from any university that I go to UTSG, they automatically assume I’m some sort of super nerd. I won’t deny that there is a strong emphasis on academics, but I dont think that necessarily means everyone here is smart, or that it’s particularly difficult to get in. The admission average was around low 70s for many Social Sciences programs, and that’s reflected in many of the students. I think I’m trying to sugarcoat it, but my point is: not everyone who goes to UTSG is smart.
Both: Goodness, where do I begin? The myths that students have about their own campus, other campuses…its crazy!
First of all, UTSC is not a high school. Its a real university. My psychology class made up 1,500 students, my philosophy class was made up of 500 students, and I had more tutorials and labs than I do downtown. I had essays, assignments, tests, exams and everything else that students have at St.George.
Second, UTSG is not as hard as students think it is. Whenever I tell people I come from Scarborough Campus, they always say to me “oh, downtown must have been so difficult for you. We have such a high standard here”. I always get so annoyed when people say that me. I thought I’d clearly get it out now – the only reasons St. George is exessively hard is because this campus seems more obsessed with keeping a low average than promoting student learning, because this campus is more concerned about keeping assignments ambiguous so that only a few do well, because this campus is less helpful and less academically supportive than Scarborough.
On the other hand, Scarborough campus students tend to think everyone at St. George has no life. Guess what? We’re hard working, talented, ambitious AND we have lives! We like to go out, and attend events, and have fun. Its important that Scarborough students know that the university experience here downtown is different from Scarborough, and that students from other campuses can learn from our experiences.
As well, we’re able to make friends, and experience our classes even if we don’t have as many tutorials or small class sizes. As a student at St. George, the university feel is more present.
Q8: What does St.George/UTSC (whichever you don’t study at) have that you would like to see at your own campus?
Student (UTSC): Better looking buildings.
Student (UTSG): I don’t know too much about the mechanics of UTSC, but if the magical compound which creates better socializing between students could be bottled and sent to UTSG, that would be great! I think students at UTSC get more involved in things outside of the classroom, even if it’s just utilizing the gym. Every student at UTSG pays a fee to use our gym, but half the students don’t know where it is!
Both: When I look at UTSC, I feel they are missing out on the university experience that comes from St. George – that ability to get lost in the crowd, to have resources at your fingertips, and to feel part of the university breadth and variety.
St. George campus misses out the communal experience – this campus needs more caring. Students need to be more caring, more involved and the campus needs to be better suited to suit commuter students. Did you know, UTSC has a common room accessible to all students which has a large TV?! Anyone can walk in and hang out! Its fabulous. We don’t have anything like that here…and if we do, no one knows about it. That isn’t any better.
Q9: Overall, how would you rate your campus in comparison of St.George or UTM (based on whatever knowledge you have)?
Student (UTSG): I’d say we’re a pretty awesome campus!
Student (UTSG): I don’t know anything about UTM, but, I would say UTSC is better than UTSG. At the end of the day, they are both degrees from the all-powerful “University of Toronto”, so you might as well have some fun while getting the degree from UTSC, rather than pulling your hair out at UTSG.
Both:: I think every campus is special and wonderful in their own way.
Each campus has something wonderful to offer. Above is the perspective from students to students for students. Read it, think about it, enjoy it, and learn from it.
‘Til Next Week!
Disclaimer: These are solely the perspectives of these three students who study at different campuses. These do not reflect the perspectives of all students, and they are not intended to reflect or limit the perspectives from students at other campuses.

19 comments on “Uncensored: UTSG v. UTSC

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  1. Interesting. At the end of the day, the campus life is what you make of it though. You can utilize your resources – or not. You can go to the gym – or not. For me this has changed dramatically from first to third year (I’m at UTSG). I’ve become much more balanced in terms of work and me-time as time went by. I think it depends on priorities. Overall what is said above is probably true, but person by person basis, certainly not. UTSG is not as cold as people make it out to be, I think and it is not as unfriendly. I feel like people in my program generally care about each other, people share lecture recordings and notes (transcripts!), and in general I feel like people are pretty friendly. It may be ‘hardcore’, but it is only as hardcore as you want it to be. Certainly people who ‘fit in’, stay here, those who don’t, find other places to go. It is not bad to have three very different campuses, in that you can pick whatever suits you most. Although why not just make them 3 different Universities, but anyway.

  2. Hey Tanya,
    Thanks for the wonderful comment…i think you make some interesting points. Student experience is based on the student themself – the level in which they choose to engage themselves in the available student life. I think the perspective is, especially by the student who studied at both campuses, that St.George campus may be less condusive to student life as a whole, not in particular specialized programs…………
    Interesting point about the campuses being separate universities as well. Its possible the campuses are all part of the same university to offer students more programs, choices and opportunities under the same solid, reputable U of T name.

  3. What a great read! I can relate as a student who is in courses on both campuses. It’s amazing/hilarious what students from each campus think of one another.

  4. Hey thanks for this great post!
    I’m at UTSC and well what you posted, it’s true! UTSC may seem like a high school but in the end, it’s actually not that bad. You really get used to the environment. You learn to accept the fact that it’s not a party school and commuting, not so bad. I’m glad I found some comments that was positive about UTSC. Most of the other stuff I’ve read on forums is atrocious stuff. Especially about the overblown management program. What about us Arts kids huh?

  5. @Dylan: I agree, its funny how different the perspectives are from one student to the next about the other campuses!

    @ Artemis: thanks for the comment – I think there are some wonderful aspects to UTSC, particularly that the campus encourages learning rather than just marks …

  6. Hi,
    I am gonna be attending UFTSC next year, and I must say I was quite nervous about moving from a high school to a university, but your questions have helped a lot. Thank-you.

  7. Hello To Be A UFTSC Student!

    I’m so glad my article helped – if you have any questions, feel free to post them and I can get some answers for you 🙂

  8. Truly a great read and quite hilarious too (I luv how the UTSG students says tht “he/she’d rather study at UTSC than pull their hait out at UTSG!”

    But I agree that both the campuses have very different experiences to offer and at the end of the day, it is an individual’s opinion of why/what they like better. But hey… we r the same university, we are all a part of the same bunch!

  9. Hey, thank you very much for this article.

    There was one issue I expected to see here, and it seems that it was only batted around the bush about.

    I want to know the straight dope about it, I plan to attend UTSC, but am not sure yet.

    What I want to know, is just how much spare time one would have while taking a full course load in the humanities? (psych, philo, linguistics, that sort of thing)

    I hope you answer me soon (before frosh week) because I need to decide if I’m going at all.

    Thanks a lot,

  10. Dear Chris,

    I apologize – I got your comment much too late. I didn’t realize comments were open on last years posts, but for future readers, Chris brings up a great question. How much time would someone have taking a full course load in humanities?

    Well, it really depends on the courses. For example, I found psychology and philosophy to be very heavy reads, especially at UTSC. It was very interesting, but I dont think the psych or philo courses were too light. I had friends taking linguistics that found those courses to be better for spare time…

    What did you experience end up being like?

  11. Hey Fariya
    Thanks 4 posting this it REALLY helps to know the pros and cons of U of T
    I have Recently been accepted and I’m really happy 😀

    I’ve been to UTSG in the summer of 09 and I was in awe of its beauty and diverse student body. Let’s not forget that it’s in the heart of downtown very lively area that’s always on the move.

    However like “Chris” I am also in the Humanities program which is only given in UTSC. I aspire to become a successful Journalist, Correspondent, Writer, Reporter etc… And I’m moving back to Canada from the U.A.E. After graduation. I also live in Burlington but wish to get away from home to live a little, so my question is the following

    Since I am already in the Journalist program which is offered only in UTSC, how do I get myself to UTSG? Like to attend courses on both campuses, I want to be closer to the city and Scarborough seems like a secluded area from what I hear and have read here. The city just seems more my niche since I’ve lived in Dubai, and Toronto half my life. I’m super new to this as you can see and don’t know how university functions and how the courses work either :-/

    But from your esoteric experience and knowledge I’m sure you can point me in the right direction 🙂

    Thanks Anais 😀

  12. Hello Anais!

    Thank you so much for your comment! I am delighted you have been accepted to U of T, and I hope you love it here!

    First of all, I should say the Journalism program at UTSC is fantastic, and you should be thrilled to be in the program. I think you will really like UTSC – it is really community, connected through a network of student relationships.

    I completely understand your concern to be connected to the city – certainly, living/studying in Toronto has been exhilarating for me – a wonderful, vibrant experience for students. The level of involvement you wish to have at UTSG is up to you. A friend of mine is goes to UTSC, but he is always downtown studying – it gives him his “big-city”-fix, while being able to study at the campus he wants.

    Sometimes, you may want to take a course here. I would recommend you talk to your registrar and university, but you can also look online http://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/~registrar/current_students/courses about the rules for taking courses at other campuses. I highly recommend it – a number of my friends have tried to take courses downtown from UTSC or vice-versa, and have found it to be a “best of both worlds” experience.

    Please feel free to ask me any more questions!


  13. Hello! I’m a first year geology/bio anthropology major at UTM and I love all three campuses, but to be biased, UTM has a lot of greenery, raccoons, deer, rabbits, foxes, a lot of wildlife, and all of my Profs know me personally and know what kind of pupil I am. The only thing I really don’t like is how under-appreciated (?) the Chem-Phys Sciences are at UTM. Perhaps there could be three reps one from each campus and then there could be a cross-campus comparison. We’re all a united institution: U of T!

  14. Hi i just have one more question

    okay lets say you have been accepted on a conditional acceptance into the Humanities program, all your grades are okay
    but then you fail a subject like physics that has NOTHING to do with your desired major. So you do your final retake and then you pass, but your average does not drop below a C- (like requested in your acceptance)

    My question is…Do you get Rejected if this happens? (like you fail a subject, but then have a retake and pass do you still get rejected?)


    You only get rejected if your total average drops?

    Can someone help me out with this question because i’m really lost
    Thank You

  15. @Anais: …I personally have no idea, but it would be better to direct a question like this to a registrar’s office, or… try Askastudent! –> http://askastudent.utoronto.ca/

    Someone may have already submitted a question similar to yours, or you can submit what you’ve typed here… Godspeed.

  16. Hey Anais!

    Thank you for your question! I thought it was fantastic – and more than that, it is post-worthy. A lot of students probably have a similar or the same question as you, and it deserves a long answer. Unfortunately, I’m not writing for UpbeaT for the summer, and I don’t think the comment is quite be-fitting for this post, which is about comparing campuses. I did, however, submit your question to Surviving Studenthood, which does a lot of research for students, and they were kind enough to create a post just for your question! Yay! Way to be resourceful, me! 🙂 (I take credit for co-contributing to the post!)

    I strongly encourage you to view it and read it carefully. A quick summary of the post, in answer to your question is:

    1. read your acceptance letter carefully, to ensure you didn’t breach any conditions
    2. remember the prerequisites for the program
    3. talk to a school guidance councilor
    4. call/visit the university

    The post goes into a lot of detail, and is catered to your question. You can read the post here, and get answers to any follow up questions you may have.




  17. I live in Scarborough and I attend the St. George Campus, but when I have free time and I need to study I frequently go to UTSC, since it’s less stressful of a commute home late at night with my laptop and books (I’m able to call for a ride home if I need to).

    The views in this article of UTSG vs. UTSC are EXACTLY how I feel about both campuses, and this is based on the first 2 months of my first year. Although UTSG is quite the beauty to traverse through, there is something magical about UTSC that makes me wish I attended there (albeit it can be a little more dreary than St. George). Thank you for this article!

  18. A very interesting look at the comparison of the two campuses. I found it quite useful, but I’m still applying to UTSG at my first 😛 Thank you for writing this Fariya!

  19. Dear Brandon & Thomas

    You are very welcome! Glad to see the post was reflective of your personal views, Brandon, and that it provided an insightful comparison into the two campuses for you Thomas.