Work/play balance lowest in the country?

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. Report Card 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. Money 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. -Jon

5 comments on “Work/play balance lowest in the country?

  1. Hi Jane,

    Thanks for the comment, and I completely agree that Toronto is not so friendly to those of us on the lower end of wealth. That is entirely the reason why in addition to going to school full time I have two part-time jobs – gotta pay the bills somehow!

    I suggest time management as a means to improve happiness in work/play balance because for me, if it is important, I make it work.

    I make sure I have time for clubs and friends and all the good things that university has to offer; it doesn’t have to all be books and theories and whatnot.

    Now, with that said, I know that there are a lot of people reading this blog that cannot fathom the idea of taking time away from their studies, as there are some pretty intense programs at U of T (engineering and life sciences pop in to mind right away).

    What is important though, is everyone needs to take some time and maintain some sort of balance in their life.


  2. hey Jon,

    i don’t get it why don’t you understand the report card published. It reflects the truth. I am in UofT 4th year and I try my level best to study plus get involved with campus activities. But still it is very hard for me to keep up with good grades.
    It is not hidden from everyone that the homecoming at UofT is pathetic and disappointing. While homecomings for Western, Queens etc. are phenomenal.
    I am a commerce student so I have been to tons of networking events. Do you know what the majority of the employers think about UofT? Well they say that UofT is a very tough and a technical school and the students just focus too much on studies to get high grades. They are also well aware that it is not the fault of the students but the difficulty level of the university itself.
    The problem that lies with UofT is that it is too harsh on its students. They accept tons of students in 1st year but they make it so tough (especially from the second year) that it takes a toll. Maybe you are some exceptional student who is able to party and get high grades (and by high I mean majority As and a few high Bs). But you have to accept the reality, not all students are like you.
    If you ask me, I think the survey reflects the truthh!

  3. Spoken like a true Artsi Jon, I do not mean any disrespect, but have you taken the time to talk to any engineers at UofT? Let’s say with 38 hours of class a week, 8 courses and barely any sleep, you might not even notice them. I absolutely agree with alk. What you are reflecting in your article is by no means false, but it is a narrow view of just a portion of the students while ignoring the rest. The survey reflects the absolute truth, and the best way that I confirm this is by talking to my friends from high school who are studying the same program as I am in other Canadian universities and their experience is totally different, they have way more time to relax and party and much less time-stress, something which UofT loves. I cannot believe how much I have had to give up in order to keep up here, so many extra-curricular activities I used to do, but don’t just have the time, partly because I’m in class from 9 to 6 everyday.

    So please broaden your horizons, if you still do not understand the results of this survey, find some engineers and go talk to them. Every arts and science student I talk to seems to be shocked by my workload, some even say it shouldn’t be allowed. And just to let you know, not everybody at UofT gets 1 month off for the winter break.

  4. Hi Keshav,

    I can understand your point that there are programs at the U of T which are intensive, which they should be; U of T is the premier institution for higher learning in Canada, and as such, should have higher standards than other universities.

    I do disagree that engineers in particular cannot find the time to get involved. In my many extra-cirricular activities I know several students of the engineering program, often in executive positions. Also, they have time to grab a drink or go for lunch. From this I gather it can be difficult to get involved and achieve some sort of balance, but not impossible as you make it seem.

    Further, every program at U of T has its workload; you may have 36 hours of class each week, but myself, being a history major with minors in writing & rhetoric and sexual diversity studies sees me in class 20 hours a week combined with an additional 20 hours of reading and/or writing papers. That is not to mention the cruch times when I have six ten page essays due all in the same week. We all have work to do and I think it is unfair to assume that because I am an “Artsi” I don’t have my share of work to do.

    One last point I want to make is that balance is important. When we are done with our university careers we will start our employment careers. Add having a family in there, and you will constantly be stuggling to find that balance that is needed. It is best to sort out a way to create balance in your life now, in school, then to burn yourself out by the time you hit 40.

    That is just my opinion on the matter.

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