In a Globe & Mail article, “University Report Card 2012 Rankings”, the University of Toronto received a D for work/play balance, making it the lowest ranked university in the country.
I, to be honest, do not get this at all.
Most people I know at U of T are people I have either met through a club or other activity, or are in some way involved on campus. Everyone in my Facebook network seems to have time to go out with their friends, watch movies, play sports, or even go on vacation, all while keeping up with classes and studying.
Don’t get me wrong. I know that attending the U of T is a constant struggle to maintain good grades, but this does not mean that that is all we do. We are bombarded with events left, right and centre that are either incredibly inexpensive or absolutely free. We have student associations and the student unions which run a lot of these events, not to mention the 300+ clubs we have on campus that also host a whole slew of events. We also get a lot of breaks from classes (i.e. a month off for winter break), something that you definitely do not get working a 9-5 job.
Now, in a recent survey I did as part of a group project on student involvement for a class, we found that a lot of lower-year (1st and 2nd year) students are not participating in extra-curricular activities, primarily because they thought it would detract from their studies. Upper-year (3rd,+ year) students were more likely to get involved and felt that it was actually beneficial to their academic achievement.
Perhaps students were not just commenting on the work-load of school, but also the demands of part-time jobs, which can be understandable as well. It is very expensive in this city, with, according to the Globe & Mail Toronto surpassing Vancouver as the country’s most expensive city to live in, and 59th most expensive in the world. Rent is astronomical, and the price of food is also quite high.
The best advice I can give for those people who participated in the Globe & Mail rankings is to better focus your skills in time management. It is essential to maintaining balance while at university. Without a successful plan on how you are going to tackle each day, you will feel overwhelmed with responsibility and may not have time left over at the end to meet up with friends and go for a drink.
There are a ton of resources for learning how to better manage your time such as workshops from the Academic Success Centre, which should be rolling out workshops in the new year. Also, you might benefit from reading one of the thousands of books written about the topic.
There is plenty to do around campus and in Toronto in general, and if we realize that we need downtime to have fun, things can only get better. Perhaps if more of us try some of these things we can get the U of T a higher grade next year.