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U of T Hub: A course selection tool for new and returning students

Two winners of the U of T Student Engagement Award create course rating website
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SHANNON YU/THE VARSITY
SHANNON YU/THE VARSITY

If you have ever tried to find a course that is interesting, taught by a good professor, teaches useful skills and fits your timetable, you know how difficult the search for such a course can be. 

U of T Hub aims to make this process much simpler. Created by two of the winners of the U of T Student Engagement Award, Johnson Zhuxin Wang and Jerry An Yu, it provides course reviews and ratings from students. It also lets students upload course resources such as textbooks and syllabi. 

As of now, the website only covers courses from the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, as well as a few programs within the Faculty of Arts and Science such as English, computer science, and Rotman Commerce. However, after the website gets more activity, Yu tells The Varsity that more courses will be added so that more students will be able to use the platform. 

Difficult decisions made easy 

The website allows you to search for a specific course by entering its course code. If you are interested in browsing all available courses, U of T Hub also allows you to search by faculty, program, and year. Its user-friendly interface provides course descriptions that go beyond the information provided by the university and feature honest reviews from students who have taken the courses. If you comment on five courses, a $10 Starbucks gift card is emailed to you within 24 hours.

The Varsity spoke with Yu to find out more about how the website came to be. Yu said that it can be hard to tell what a course will be like just based on its description. When choosing courses, he would often ask himself, “Is [this course] hard or not? Is it going to take a lot of time? Is it interesting? Am I going to use this in industry or not?” 

He also often used Reddit to assess courses he was interested in, and spoke with those that had already taken each course to find out any information that he could. Yu added that he was in a lot of student Facebook groups where he saw many of his peers also asking about which courses they should take, and looking for more course feedback. He thought that a centralized platform would simplify the process.

For students, by students 

Yu explained that students’ previous experiences in classes they’ve already taken is valuable information for other students considering taking those classes. The feelings of past students will most likely mirror the feelings of future students. “I think this is the most accurate information that they can get,” he said. 

This information is often more useful to students than what they can find on official course descriptions and from talking to professors, said Yu. He explained that students can share if they thought a course was interesting, if they found it difficult, and if they were taught skills they could then transfer into the workplace. 

Yu pointed out that many first-year students were visiting the website. First-year students might find reviews especially useful, since they can use them to get a sense of how courses are run at U of T. 

Yu told The Varsity he sees many reviews that give advice on how to excel in a course. For example, some reviews stress the importance of attending tutorials in a particular class, since they end up covering many of the questions that will be on the exam. “If I had this kind of information before coming into university, I think that would definitely have helped, because as a first-year, I [didn’t] know what to put focus on. It [was] a brand new experience for me from high school,” said Yu.