So, you’ve made it to the University of Toronto — congratulations! Whether you’re a native to ‘The Six’ or a newcomer to the big city, U of T welcomes you to an exciting new academic and social frontier. That being said, you’ve just arrived at the country’s largest postsecondary institution, which can be a little intimidating. To help you get settled, here are my top tips to get you through your first semester.
1. Find your crew
Get involved! Transitions are always easier when you join ready-made groups of people that share your interests. Interested in geopolitics? Check out the United Nations Society! Want to get involved in dance? Audition for the Silhouettes Dance Company! Heck, you can even contribute to The Varsity! There are over 1000 clubs at U of T, and Clubs Day makes it easy for you to pick and choose a group that is right for you. Don’t miss your opportunity to explore interests and meet new people during the “Week of Welcome” hosted by the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) at King’s College Circle.
If you’re a student at the St. George campus and in the Faculty of Arts & Science, try getting involved in your college. The college system forms smaller communities within this large institution, making it less daunting. Each has its own culture, government, and set of clubs. Why not look into college-specific activities and institutions to help yourself feel more at home in your own little corner of the university? Most colleges boast their own publication; for example — The Gargoyle at University College, and The Strand at Victoria College. And always remember to keep an eye out for events throughout the year and during your college’s orientation week.
2. Explore the city
Take advantage of our location — we are in the biggest city in Canada, and Toronto is bursting at the seams with things to see and do. Each neighbourhood in Toronto has a diverse culture, and with it a wealth of student budget-friendly things to do on weekends and after class. Take a stroll through Kensington Market, check out the Art Gallery of Ontario (free if you’re under 25), or visit the animals at Riverdale Farm. As you discover all that Toronto has to offer, you’ll begin to feel more at home in the city.
3. Study (unfortunately)
It can’t all be fun and games: you’ve come to an academically-rigorous school, notorious for its high course loads and subsequent unofficial nickname, ‘U of Tears.’ That being said, there are plenty of resources available to help you succeed. For example, take advantage of the aid centres for disciplines like statistics, economics, and philosophy, and check out your college’s writing centre for help with essays. Your registrar is also always there to help, so book an appointment or visit during drop-in hours to sort out your degree planning. Finally, don’t forget that there are 42 libraries to choose from at U of T, so do some sleuthing and find the right one for your studying needs.
With all that Toronto and the university has to offer, first year can be incredible, but it can also be very overwhelming. If you are feeling particularly stressed by school or the transition into first year, check if your college, department, or program offers counseling services, or contact a Distress Centre of Toronto at 416-408-HELP (4357).
Best of luck and a warm welcome to U of T!