5 things students need to know as U of T gears up for classes this fall

From orientation events to community gatherings, there's a flurry of activity happening across the university's three campuses

Ela Dai, a recent grad and this year’s ASKme program assistant, says ASKme booths are a “campus compass” for new and returning students (photo by Johnny Guatto)

Ela Dai was too nervous to ask questions when she first arrived at the University of Toronto in 2018 – so, her father encouraged her to approach an ASKme booth on the St. George campus.

The booth’s volunteers helped Dai, who was arriving from Türkiye, and her father sort out a question about the University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP) – and now, four years later, Dai is a recent graduate of the Faculty of Arts & Science and this year’s ASKme program assistant.

“The ASKme booths have become the campus compass for a lot of students,” says Dai.

“The ambassadors are students or recent grads, so they know where you’re coming from because they experienced being a new student. It creates a safe environment.”

The booths are just one of the many resources that staff, faculty, librarians and student volunteers are rolling out on U of T’s three campuses over the next several weeks in preparation for the arrival of more than 90,000 new and returning students from across Canada and around the world.

That includes online and in-person workshops, seminars and orientation events focused on everything from academic skills to finances, housing and more.

Here’s a brief snapshot of the many ways U of T is rolling out the welcome mat for students this fall – and a few suggestions on how they can make the most of the upcoming year:

Get to know U of T

Attendees at last year’s Homecoming event at U of T Scarborough (photo via UTSC)

There’s a flurry of events scheduled at St. George, U of T Scarborough and U of T Mississauga during the month of September – but if there’s one day students won’t want to miss, it’s Sept. 6.

In the morning, a tri-campus “cheer-off” will take place at Varsity Stadium at 10:30 a.m., bringing together students from all three campuses in advance of a tri-campus student parade that will march – loudly – from Varsity Stadium to the intersection of St. George and College Streets.

Later in the day, the annual tri-campus clubs fair will take place on St. George Street between College and Harbord/Hoskin Streets from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Students are invited to explore hundreds of clubs at U of T – from eSports and K-pop to Afro-dance and culture – to find their community.

And that’s only the beginning. Here are just a few of the other events scheduled to take place at U of T Mississauga, U of T Scarborough and the St. George campus to welcome students to the fall term.

There's also a tri-campus Xplore Hart House event on Sept. 1 on the St. George campus that includes shuttle bus access from U of T Scarborough and U of T Mississauga.

Find more orientation events by using Student Life’s calendar (St. George), the orientation events page at U of T Mississauga and the orientation events page at U of T Scarborough.

Don’t be afraid to ASK(me)!

AskMe Anything booth at St. George Campus
ASKme Anything volunteers are on hand to answer all of students’ questions (photo by Johnny Guatto)

No matter how big or small the question, students can find help across all three campuses.

Dai stresses that the ASKme booths are there to provide essential information to make the transition to university – or getting reacquainted with campus – that much easier.

She says they get questions ranging from, “Where is Hart House?” to “How do I study as a new university student?”

On the St. George campus, there are four booths set up at the Koffler Student Services Centre, the campus gates at King’s College Road and College Street, near Sidney Smith Hall and at Robarts Library from Aug. 21 until Sept. 15.

At U of T Scarborough, ASKme Anything booths will be located by the bus loop outside Highland Hall, at the front of the Student Centre, at the front of the Instructional Centre and at the Bladen Wing Hallway.

Students at U of T Mississauga are encouraged to visit the Centre for Student Engagement front desk office to have their questions answered. The office is open from 9:30 to 5 p.m. and an available resource to students year around.

There are even welcome booths at Toronto Pearson International Airport in Terminals 1 and 3. They will be open from Aug. 21 to Sept. 10 from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Find your first class – and arrive on time

U of T Mississauga campus map

The first day of classes varies for each campus.

At U of T Scarborough, students will start on Sept. 5, while U of T Mississauga kicks off the fall semester on Sept. 6. Students on the St. George campus begin heading to class on Sept. 7.

U of T’s tri-campus map tool is a great resource when it comes to figuring out where to go – and don’t forget that most lectures start 10 minutes after the hour to make sure students have time to get where they need to be. And, when it finally comes time to hit the books, U of T Libraries has put together a helpful tip sheet about accessing its collections and other resources, as well as where to find study spaces across the three campuses. 

Find your community

Students from the LGBTOUT Centre for Queer, Questioning & Allied Students promote their organization at Clubs Day (photo by James Poremba)

One of the best things about attending U of T is that it’s located in a city renowned for its diversity, which is reflected in the university’s many groups and student associations.

From First Nations House to the Black Students’ Association to LGBTOUT and the Multi-Faith Centre, there is a wide range of opportunities on the three campuses for students to connect, share their experiences and make meaningful connections.

Joining a club at U of T also provides an avenue to try something new, or delve deeper into your hobbies, and fosters a sense of belonging within the university community. From eSports to art, there are literally hundreds of community-oriented clubs and student groups across the three campuses – meaning there’s something for everyone.

In addition to the Sept. 6 clubs fair, the Student Organization Portal – a clubs directory – is a great resource to discover campus groups and includes information on what each group does and how to go about joining it.

Make health, wellness and safety a priority

U of T Campus Safety App

U of T strives to provide a safe supportive environment where students, staff, faculty and librarians can thrive in their academic and personal pursuits.

The U of T Campus Safety app features emergency contacts, tips, support services, and a live chat feature that connects users with U of T safety staff in real-time. App users can also use a Mobile Bluelight feature which sends the user’s on-campus location to a safety team in case of a crisis. Other features include TravelSafer, enabling safety staff to monitor users’ on-campus walks, and Friend Walk, which allows a trusted contact to monitor your walk anywhere in the world.

Additionally, U of T community members are automatically enrolled in UTAlert – a service that allows the university to send important messages via email. Students can log into the UTAlert portal to ensure that their info is up to date, and add a phone number to receive text messages.

Students are also encouraged to stay safe online by practicing good password hygiene, using multifactor identification where available and generally being on the alert for suspicious websites, emails and texts. More information can be found on the university’s Security Matters website, including a tool to report phishing attempts.

Students seeking mental health support can visit the Student Mental Health Resource site or health and wellness at St. George, U of T Scarborough and U of T Mississauga.

More information about U of T can be found at UTogether

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