Glossary of U of T terms
Academic Calendar: Not a calendar, despite the name! A large document, usually found online, that tells you everything you need to know about graduation requirements and lists every single course offered in a faculty. Pour over it to plan your future courses, explore electives and generally get excited about the school year ahead!
Academic Unit: The academic unit that conducts research and hosts courses in a particular subject is called a department. U of T has 90 departments across all three campuses!
ACORN: Accessible Campus Online Resource Network. Make like a squirrel and dig into this system: it includes online resources such as ROSI, Course Finder, Degree Explorer (which can track your progress toward graduation), the CCR, CLN and more.
APUS: Association of Part-Time Undergraduate Students. If you are taking fewer than 3.0 FCEs on any of the three campuses, this is your student union. They provide health and dental plans, bursaries and scholarships, a tax clinic and more. Run to be a Class Representative, volunteer or participate in their campaigns to become engaged with campus.
ASC: Academic Success Centre. You got into U of T, which means you were a great student in high school! You have the potential to be a great student at U of T too, but for many that might mean seeking help, which may be a new experience. Fortunately, the ASC is on your side. You can be counselled individually or attend workshops to learn skills such as time management, exam preparation or stress and anxiety management. Even if you are not struggling, everybody can benefit from a little skill sharpening.
back campus: Informal name for the green space between Hoskin Avenue and University College. It is currently under construction to be outfitted with synthetic turf, but will soon be available for sports and merriment.
Big Ideas courses: Interdisciplinary courses exclusively for first-year students that tackle societal issues. This is your chance to learn about something topical and fascinating starting in your first week on campus. A sample course title: “The Internet: Saving Civilization or Trashing the Planet?”
Blackboard: see Portal.
breadth requirement: A course taken outside of your program to learn new skills and broaden your knowledge base. Most faculties require some breadth requirements to be met before graduation.
bursar: A staff member at some colleges responsible for financial affairs. If you are a part of Trinity or Victoria, the Office of the Bursar is where you will go to get information about scholarships and bursaries, which are non-repayable grants given based on financial need. For other colleges and faculties, visit your registrar for this information.
Career Centre: You came to U of T to learn skills and grow, but also to invest in your future. Connect with our Career Centre to have your resume and cover letter critiqued, to learn about opportunities to shadow professionals and to attend workshops to beef up your knowledge and confidence about how to take your next steps. They also run the CLN website through which you can search for volunteer, part-time and full-time positions both on campus and off.
CCR: Co-curricular record. Search the database for opportunities to get involved on campus, learn how to describe the skills that you have gained through your involvement and create an official record of your experiences to show to future employers or graduate schools. What you do outside of the classroom is often just as important as what you learn in lecture halls, so explore, get involved and recognize how valuable your experiences are.
CIE: Centre for International Experience. You’ll want to head here if you’re an international student or looking to study abroad. They run programs to help international students acclimatize to their new home on campus including an English Communication program, a mentorship program and advising. And if you’ve ever dreamed of spending a semester in countries such as England, Turkey or New Zealand, visit them to find out how to make that dream a reality.
CIUT: Our campus radio station, which can be found at 89.5 FM. They feature 24/7 programming of diverse genres and interesting talk shows and provide an alternative voice to mainstream radio stations. Ever dreamed of hearing your voice on the radio? Volunteer with the station and this could become your reality.
college: Arts & Science students are split into seven colleges: Innis, New, St. Michael’s, Trinity, University, Victoria and Woodsworth, each with their own distinct atmosphere and architecture. Your college is your home base – you will visit the registrar and writing centre there, and may stay in one of their residences. Each college has their own form of student government and a variety of extracurricular activities and clubs to get involved with. Your college is your smaller community within the larger university.
Community Crew: The coolest people ever. These students will be blogging, tweeting, facebooking and instagramming all year to share their U of T experience, answer your questions and introduce you to the U of T community.
Con Hall: Convocation Hall. The name for this building comes from the fact that you will experience graduate between its walls, but you will probably meet it four years earlier for some of your entry level classes. It holds 1,600 people, so either get there early or be prepared to move like a turtle on your way to a seat on one of its three levels. And yes, it was where the math competition in Mean Girls was filmed!
convocation: The formal ceremony at the end of your time at U of T where you will get your diploma (the piece of paper listing your name, the date and your degree). You’ll wear a cap and gown, pose for pictures with your loved ones and feel incredibly proud at how far you’ve come.
co-requisite: If a course has a co-requisite listed in the Academic Calendar, the co-requisite course must be taken at the same time (unless it has been taken already).
Course Finder: An online tool to search for courses available in Arts & Science and engineering at St. George, and all courses at UTM and UTSC. It displays information like the course description, prerequisites and lecture time, and you can filter the results by day of the week or time of day to find a course to fill a hole in your schedule.
course load: A term for how many courses a student is taking.
course union: A student-run group that all members of a program are automatically a part of. They provide academic services, as well as run social events to help classmates get to know each other and have fun.
credit/no credit: An option where your transcript will only show if you gained the credit, regardless of whether you got 51 or 99%. This is awesome for taking courses outside of your program that make you simultaneously shake with excitement about the material and fear of not doing well!
Degree Explorer: A planning tool that tracks the courses you have taken and your progress toward fulfilling you program requirements. Enter in courses you want to take in the future to see if your plan will lead you to graduation.
department: The academic unit that conducts research and hosts courses in a particular subject. U of T has 90 departments across all three campuses!
drop date: The last day to drop a course without it appearing on your transcript and affecting your GPA. Check the Academic Calendar for the specific dates each term, although they fall after your first midterm/assignment. This is different from the refund date, the date you must drop a course by to get your money back, which occurs much earlier in the semester.
exchange: A program, accessed through the CIE, in which students spend a semester or more taking courses at another university, usually in another country. U of T students have the opportunity to take courses in countries as diverse as Germany to Kenya, and students from other institutions around the world can do an exchange at U of T.
faculty: A group of academic departments at the university. Which faculty you are a part of influences which courses you can take and what degree you will graduate with, as well as provides unique extracurricular opportunities. The first-entry faculties — which you can enter directly from high school — include Applied Science & Engineering, Architecture, Landscape and Design, Arts & Science, Kinesiology & Physical Education and Music.
first year seminar: These small-group setting classes can only be taken by first year students. Why wait until third year to experience the benefits of seminar classes? You’ll be able to explore a topic in depth, deeply get to know your classmates and professor and engage in discussion and debate.
FLC: (pronounced “flick”) First Year Learning Communities. These are groups of about 30 new students in the same area of study in the Faculty of Arts & Science. Members have core classes together, meet with an upper-year mentor for workshops and get to know fellow students through a range of social activities.
Gerstein: The Gerstein Science Information Centre is the main science library. Besides having over a million volumes to read and research, it is a gorgeous place to study with large windows overlooking the nearby provincial parliament buildings.
Governing Council: A 50-member group comprised of staff, faculty, students, alumni and community members responsible for academic, business and student affairs. Make sure to vote for your student representatives in the spring!
GPA: Grade Point Average. This is calculated by converting each mark to a four-point scale and then finding a weighted average. It is the summary of your academic achievement at U of T, though it is important to remember to find balance and that there is more to life (and success!) than a 4.0 GPA.
Hart House: The co-curricular centre at U of T. It has a gym, a beautiful library, study spaces and Sammy’s Student Exchange for quick snacks or meals. You can take creative or fitness classes, join a club or committee or volunteer at CIUT, the campus radio station hosted on the first floor.
LEC: Lecture. You’ll see this abbreviation in the timetable when choosing courses. Almost every course has a lecture component, either in multiple hour blocks or in smaller chunks throughout the week. You’ll be meeting with your instructor to learn, though the exact format varies. They can either be small (less than 10 people) or rather large (1,600 people), and you could either be taking notes from a delivered lecture or participating in class discussion.
life sci: A casual term for Life Sciences, the general area of study including biology, ecology, psychology and related disciplines. If you’re a first year in this area of study, you’re probably enjoying Con Hall and taking chemistry, biology, physics and calculus.
LWD: Late withdrawal. A way for a student to drop a course in the Faculty of Arts & Science after the drop date if they become irreparably behind, usually for personal reasons. If this option is used for a course, it will appear on the transcript as “LWD,” but will not affect the GPA. If you think you may need to do this, visit your registrar as soon as you can!
mentorship: A mentor is traditionally someone with more experience who guides and provides advice to someone starting out on their path. At U of T, you can be matched with a peer mentor (an upper-year student) or a career mentor whose direction you want to emulate. Visit mentorship.utoronto.ca for more information – you could find life-changing advice and get to know someone who has experience studying at U of T.
OISE: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Students here study the education system and how people learn.
Old Vic: Nickname for the main building of Victoria University. Did you know that when it was first built it was called “New Vic”?
OSAP: Ontario Student Assistance Program. A financial aid program that awards scholarships, grants and loans to postsecondary students who meet their eligibility requirements. You can apply for it online before the school year starts whether you think you need it or not – you may be eligible for grants you did not know about and an application also considers you for the provincial government’s 30% tuition rebate.
PEY: Professional Experience Year. U of T students, especially in engineering and computer science, are given the opportunity to gain industry experience and money by working for 12-16 months after their second or third year.
Portal: The Learning Portal (run through software called Blackboard) is where you can find information on your courses (including assignment grades, PowerPoint slides and announcements from your professors) as well as various other resources.
PRA: Practical. An abbreviation in the timetable. Mostly associated with science courses, a practical is a session of hands-on learning, sometimes in pairs or groups, under the supervision of TAs. Often, this takes the form of conducting experiments in a lab. Bring on the test tubes!
pre-requisite: A (often lower-level) course that you must have taken and passed before starting a course to ensure that you are prepared. Pre-requisites for each course can be found in the Academic Calendar. Speak to the department if you have questions about prerequisites, but plan ahead and take the courses you need now to get to where you want to be in later years!
priority enrolment: To make sure that students can get the courses they need to graduate, for the first part of course selection only certain students (based on their entry stream or Subject POSt) are able to enrol in specific courses. These students have priority! Priority controls are lifted at a later date when any student can enroll in any remaining spaces or join a waitlist.
program: A set of courses that must be completed to earn a certain degree.
quad: An outdoor area in the inner part of a building, often surrounded by four walls. These are arguably the most beautiful places on campus, and can be found in locations such as Trinity College, University College and Hart House. Be prepared to get involved in many debates about which quad is your favourite!
registrar: Your registrar is like your guardian angel and wise older sibling at the same time. You can visit their office at your college or faculty. They’re your first stop for questions about academics, school policies or concerns about fees. They know how the university works inside and out, so if you find yourself wondering something, the person to ask is probably your registrar.
restricted: A restricted course is one that only a certain group of students is able to enrol in, whether due to Subject POSt or year of study. The only way students who do not meet the requirements can take the course is with special permission from the department.
Robarts: The John P. Robarts Library is home to 4.5 million books about the humanities and social sciences, as well as countless other resources (for instance, check out Media Commons on the third floor! You can rent out entire seasons of Mad Men). You will probably hear that it looks like a turkey or a peacock, though the one thing that it definitely looks like is a whole lot of concrete.
ROP: Research Opportunity Program. Courses, restricted to second years, that pair students with professors to work on original research in their discipline. It runs in both the summer and during the year and requires an application the winter before. The perfect opportunity to dip your toe into research! See if you might want to pursue an academic career, get to know a professor and contribute to your field.
Subject POSt: Your program of study in the Faculty of Arts & Science. They are either specialists, majors or minors and involve a different number of credits. You can have up to three Subject POSts and must have either a specialist, a specialist and a minor, a major and two minors or two majors to graduate. You enroll in these starting at the end of second year, and each has different entrance requirements such as specific courses taken, marks earned or even a supplementary application.
syllabus: A document with the outline/rules for a course, usually given by a professor on the first day of class and/or posted on Portal. Read it! It will answer many of your questions, keep you on track with your readings and get you excited about what you’ll be learning in the months ahead.
TA: Teaching Assistants. These are graduate students who will be leading your tutorials, marking your essays and often grading your exams. Get to know them – they’re a great source of advice about what you can do with your degree and what graduate school is actually like.
TCard: Your TCard is your student ID, and your picture will probably look nicer than your driver’s license because you’re allowed to smile. It gets you into libraries, allows you to use your meal plan and can be filled with cash to use for printing and photocopying. You’ll also need to bring it to final exams to sign in. It’s even magical outside of U of T – it can get you discounts (like 10% off on Tuesdays at the Metro grocery store at Bloor and Robert!) or even free things, like admission to the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) on Tuesdays.
timetable: Large document listing the times, locations and professors for all classes in a faculty. Use it to plan your schedule!
TTC: Toronto Transit Commission. They are responsible for the subways, streetcars and busses that you can use to get around the city. If you’re commuting, you’re probably already good friends with the TTC. But even if you’re living on campus, it can be a convenient way to explore Toronto’s neighbourhoods. Cash fare is $3, though we would recommend buying tokens in bulk (at any station) for $2.70 each or visiting the UTSU’s website to learn about discounted passes for post-secondary students.
TUT: Tutorial. This is the abbreviation you will see in the timetable when choosing your courses (be aware that some courses sign up for tutorial times on Portal after classes start. But if you see an option to enroll in one when doing course selection on ROSI, do so!). Not all courses have tutorials, but many use them to provide a small discussion-based setting. These are usually run by TAs, who are often the ones grading your work. A great place to meet people in your program, engage more deeply with the material and talk about the course with your TA.
UHIP: University Health Insurance Plan. This is a mandatory plan for all international students to ensure they have access to proper healthcare while in Ontario. Undergraduate students are also enrolled in supplementary healthcare plans that cover dental, eye exams and prescription drugs, though you can opt out of the supplementary plan through your student union if you are already covered by another source.
Ulife: A directory of clubs and student organizations at U of T. Search or browse by category to find out about the exciting, fulfilling and fun things you could be doing after class. Connect to groups’ websites or e-mail their executive members to find out how to get involved.
UTAPS: U of T Advance Planning for Students. A financial aid program for full-time Canadian citizens, permanent residents and protected persons that is based on financial need. Funding is provided to students whose need surpasses the maximum amount given by governmental sources (such as OSAP).
UTARMS: University of Toronto Archives and Records Management Services. UTARMS is responsible for preserving records associated with the university. They’re a great resource if you’re doing research on the university, but they are also fun for everyone. Browse through the image bank on their website to see what student life looked like as far back as the 1800s!
UTmail+: Your U of T email account, ending in @mail.utoronto.ca. Make sure to check it regularly if you don’t. You’ll receive announcements from your professors, newsletters for your program and official announcements from the school. It’s so important that I’ll say it again: check your e-mail or you could miss out on important information or awesome opportunities!
UTSU: University of Toronto Students’ Union. If you are a full-time student at the St. George or Mississauga campuses, this is your student union. UTSU provides health and dental plans, sells discounted TTC passes and are responsible for representing the interests of the student body.
waitlist: Once a course is full, you can add your name to this first-come-first-served list. If someone drops the course, the person who is first on the waitlist will be automatically enrolled. This process continues for about two weeks, after which waitlists disappear and any open spaces become open for grabs to those checking at the right time on ROSI.
Walk Safe: Staying late on campus in class or at the library? This program runs all day every dayof the year. All you need to do is call 416-978-SAFE (7233) and patrollers will escort you to another U of T building or nearby TTC location. Look out for yourself, U of T!
work-study: All students taking courses at U of T are eligible for these on campus job opportunities. They are for a maximum of 12 hours a week and are great opportunities for students to gain work experience and make money in a setting considerate of their class schedule.
writing centre: Each college and most professional faculties have a writing centre where you can meet with instructors to discuss any part of your essay-writing process, as well as attend workshops and sessions to improve skills ranging from researching to editing.