Tips and Advice for Course Selection at University of Toronto

University of Toronto course selection timetable

In case anyone is wondering about course selection at University of Toronto. I have some tips on that and I’ve made a sample schedule for you to look at (mainly for Arts & Sciences, specifically for Life Sci). For those of you that don’t know what courses you should take, look at the 2018-2019 UofT Calendar. Find out what your intended majors are and choose required courses based on that.

1. Avoid 9 am classes for your soul.

When I first came into university, I thought I can wake up early and go to classes at such an early time like I did in high school. But then as the semester pass by, my will to wake up for these classes decreased drastically because either I stayed up too late studying assignments/studying, I went out to college events previous nights or just being up late for no reason. And even if I did wake up, my listening and note taking skills weren’t as effective. Eventually, I skipped a couple of classes… Also, I was living in res during my first year too. Commuters are even worse since there will be delays in the morning because of rush hour and possibly snow storms.

2. Don’t make your day too long and put many consecutive hours together.

I know some of you try to pack your schedules so you can take a day off. This is a good idea only if you have like insane concentrations skills. Personally, I can’t even sit through a 3 hour lecture and tend to skip the last hour. Even if I did stay for the 3 hour, I usually just start browsing on my phone for the last hour. My notes go from like super detailed in the beginning to blank lines at the end. Thus, I’d recommend breaks between classes to freshen up your mind for you next class.

3. Make time for breakfast and lunch

Include lunch and snack times so I don’t have to smell your poutine (shout out to the brown truck) in the classroom and make me want to get one after class.

4. Choose courses you are interested in

Choose courses that you like and not because other people say that it is a bird course. There are rarely any bird courses in UofT and just because other people say that it is bird, it really doesn’t mean that it will be easy to you. For me, I would say PHY131 is easy but most of the upper year will disagree with me. So instead of looking for the easiness level of an elective, actually read the description of the course and see if that interests you. Could ask upper years for their opinions on it as well.

5. Be smart in choosing your courses first year

As far as breadth requirement is concerned, for me, I only completed like 2.5/4 credits in my first year. I chose courses that I liked and I know that I can succeed in them. My electives were PHY131, PH132, PSY100 (only this really counted as breadth) and CSC108 (wanted to learn a little about computer science, which I highly recommend nowadays). Most people would say that you want to complete them in first year because in upper years, you will have your major/specialists courses which might conflict with timetables. This is true but if you just choose science courses or humanities courses only, you will already have more than half of your breadth credits covered. I am sure you can fit the rest in later years. When I completed my second year and I am a specialist in Pharm Chem, but I just need a half credit for br 1/3 in my last 2 years. I would recommend choosing courses that you are comfortable and capable of doing well so you can adapt better. First year is all about adapting to the new environment and finding your studying style.

6. Note on taking night classes

Night classes are usually good fits to your schedule but try to avoid them. This is mainly because midterms (for life sci) usually take place in weekday nights. You don’t want to have conflicts with those even though you can reschedule and take a make up test. But it is a hassle to do that. Also, extracurricular events and intramural (sports) usually take place during night times so you want to save those time slots for that. Your academic life is important but getting involved is just as important.

7. Make multiple backup timetables

It is rare for a first year to get an ideal timetable because the start times for each person are really random. It is really hard to even get into one of your top 3 timetables if you have a bad starting time. Worse comes to worst, have a shitty timetable prepared.

8. Note that all classes start 10 min pass the hour.

But if it’s on the half hour, it starts at the exact time. For example, if your class is at 10:00, it will start at 10:10, but if your lab is at 1:30, it will start at 1:30. This rule basically gives you time to travel between classes. So don’t fear that you might be late if you have consecutive hours of different classes. BUT if you combine like a humanities course and a life sci courses, you should check the distance between the classroom. The campus is gigantic!

9. Alternating biology and chemistry labs

You can alternate Bio and Chem labs as long as the last digits of the practicals are different. i.e. you want the last digit of the lab codes for the two courses to be different. So for bio, you might have P0101, but then for CHEM, you need to choose P0102 or vice versa. YOU CANNOT DO IT WITH CHM151 as this course has weekly labs

This is totally based on my own opinion and everyone is different. Just my two cents. 


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