Pro Tips for Making U of T Easier
By: Logan Blair
Coming to the University of Toronto is a rewarding challenge, but it can be equally daunting if you do not put in the effort to understand the institution. Here are my tricks to make the transition easier.
Tip 1: Understand the divisions of U of T
The university’s academic programs are organized into faculties, divisions, and other seemingly confusing terms. Most students get lost at the concept of a college. Here is an overview of how it all works.
The top-tier divisions of U of T are called Faculties. Some of them are called Schools, but that is a minor detail. You are likely already familiar with the Faculty of Arts & Science or the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering.
Here are the others: Architecture, Landscape, and Design, Dentistry, Education, Information, Kinesiology & Physical Education, Law, Management, Music, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health, and Social Work.
Students at U of T belong to a faculty, which is a higher level of academic administration. They also set degree requirements and provide academic services and support.
Departments, Centres, and Institutes
The various departments, centres, and institutes provide support for research into focused areas, such as the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, or the Institute for Aerospace Studies. These are largely housed within faculties, but some of them may branch across and between faculties in an interdisciplinary approach.
The real catch, and a relatively unique characteristic to U of T, is the college system. The colleges are deeply rooted in the history of the University, and they have evolved into the system as it operates today. They are Innis, New, St. Michael’s, Trinity, University, Victoria, and Woodsworth.
A common misconception is that everyone belongs to a college; only students within the Faculty of Arts & Science belong to one, however. They are a home base for students, providing a unique community of scholars and students. Some also sponsor specific academic programs, but those programs are open to students beyond the affiliated college. Each provides core student services, like registrars and orientation, as well as residence.
That is where we come in. In contrast to the other residences on campus, Chestnut is not affiliated with a college. We accommodate students from multiple faculties, and that is one of our defining qualities as a mosaic of students from various academic pursuits.
Tip 2: Use your student email
One of the most important points that I stress is to use the @mail.utoronto.ca account that the University provides for you. You will be able to activate if after getting your TCard (i.e. student card), and your student record will automatically update to this new reflect the new email.
What that means is that all communication from the University, whether it be for academics or residence, will be sent to your student email account. From that point on, you should check the account as you would normally for your personal account, perhaps even more often.
Another note to highlight is that when you contact a professor, TA, academic advisor, residence staff, or anyone within U of T, you should use your student email. It ensures that the email you send will not be filtered as junk, and it’s more professional. You wouldn’t use firstname.lastname@example.org for your work, so why use it for your school?
Tip 3: Ask for help
Learning how to recognize when you need support or advice is likely one of the biggest non-academic tasks you might have during your degree here. It may be tougher than you expect; most universities are. Once you realize that things seem a little off and you are a bit confused on something in lecture, with your degree or program requirements, or how to approach a roommate concern, just ask. U of T has over 20,000 faculty and staff members, and every single one of them is here to provide guidance and direction during your studies. Your professors, TAs, Residence Dons, financial advisors, Food Services staff, and many others all form the team that collectively aims to deliver the student experience.
Follow all of these tips, and I can almost promise that you’ll have a smoother student experience.