Nine tips for getting the most out of your U of T experience

Photo of students at U of T
(photo by Randy Landicho)

Between acclimatizing to roommates, searching for food on a budget, trying to make lasting friendships and rushing to get to your next class on time – all while carrying what seems like 20 kilograms of textbooks on your back – the first few weeks of life at the University of Toronto can be intimidating.

But there’s no need to panic. Whether you’re a first-year student transitioning out of high school or a fifth-year student returning from a lavish four-month summer holiday, here are nine ways to make this year as stress-free as possible.

(photo by Diana Tyszko)

1. Figure out your campus route before school starts

U of T can be difficult even for long-time students to navigate – not to mention first-year students, especially those who have never been to Toronto. To avoid the confusion, explore campus before your first day of class. Plan your route using these interactive maps of the three campuses – U of T's St. George campus, U of T Mississauga and U of T Scarborough – which are brimming with helpful tips for new students, such as information on the nearest washrooms, food spots, recycling facilities and places to lock your bike.

Commuters should consider their transit options, whether you’re commuting to the St. George campus, U of T Mississauga or U of T Scarborough. If you’re still not sure where you’ll be commuting from, familiarize yourself with U of T’s student housing resources, including emergency student housing.

2. Create a list of go-to food spots for any occasion

You’ll be grateful you did when you need to grab a quick coffee near your 9 a.m. exam or when a new friend wants to go for an impromptu lunch date. Curate your own personalized list or check out this one from U of T News, so that, regardless of your budget and taste, you’ll know a place around campus that will satisfy that craving.  

In the past few years, U of T has been offering healthier, fresher, more sustainable and more diverse food choices – be sure to check out the on-campus selections, which go far beyond hot dog stands and fast food. Whether you’re at the St. George campus, U of T Mississauga or U of T Scarborough, there are plenty of delicious options to choose from.

(photo by Ken Jones)

3.  Immerse yourself in the U of T community

U of T orientation week can be exciting, as well as overwhelming – campus is flocked by engineers dyed purple and someone just might whisk you away from your orientation group as part of a campus-wide scavenger hunt. Both fun and informative, orientation is a useful resource when it comes to campus life, from activities designed to make you an expert in all things U of T to your orientation leader’s helpful tips. Map out your orientation week and see what’s planned at the St. George campus, U of T Mississauga and U of T Scarborough.

First-years aren’t the only new students at U of T. International and exchange students should check out the Centre for International Experience for supports and resources – as should domestic students who are on the lookout for international opportunities.

(photo by Strategic Communications)

4. Check out U of T’s lit(erature) library scene

With more than 40 libraries, U of T’s library scene is a cache of hidden gems – for example, visit the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library to flip through unique items such as the world’s first gay magazine. Check out U of T Libraries for resources on research projects, or to borrow the latest bestseller – a cheaper alternative to parting with $25 at a bookstore. If you prefer your books brand new, visit one of U of T’s Bookstores and complement your purchase with U of T merch that’s sure to get you excited about the upcoming school year.

(photo by Nick Iwanyshyn)

5. Show your school spirit

With 44 Varsity sports teams and literally hundreds of clubs (more than 350 recognized by the UTSU), U of T is brimming with school spirit. Cheer on the Varsity Blues or join a club – from book clubs to beatboxing, there’s something for everyone. Stay up-to-date on events around campus for new ways to engage with the U of T community.

(photo by Nick Iwanyshyn)

6. Take advantage of every student discount you can

Attention all U of T students: Your TCard comes with a ton of underused perks. Skip the fees at your local gym and drop by one of U of T’s athletic centres, located on all three campuses: St. George, U of T Mississauga and U of T Scarborough. Registered students can use the space and equipment or can de-stress with a yoga class. If you want to learn a new skill while working out, try a discounted instructional fitness class, with diverse offerings like belly dancing and parkour. Hart House also hosts a variety of creative workshops at affordable rates, from Photoshop to puppetry.

U of T offers a number of free and cheap entertainment options for your much-needed free time: Stop by the Faculty of Music for a free concert, catch a flick on-campus (St. Mike’s and Innis College  both offer free film nights during the year), visit one of U of T’s art galleries or purchase discounted theatre tickets with a student ID. These deals give U of T students the chance to experience Toronto’s cultural scene without breaking the bank.

(photo by Ken Jones)

 7. Take breaks for self-care

Whether you’re out partying with new friends during orientation week or struggling through stacks of readings during exam season, self-care and wellness are tri-campus priorities. For physical and mental health-related needs, visit the health and wellness centres at the St. George campus, U of T Mississauga and U of T Scarborough.

U of T offers a host of accessibility services for students with disabilities. There are a wealth of resources designed to make students’ transitions to university life as seamless as possible, located at the St. George, U of T Mississauga and U of T Scarborough campuses.  

Supplement these resources with a list of the essential supports and services provided by U of T.

(photo by Student Life)

8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Starting at a new school – and for many of you, a new city or country – can be daunting. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from those who’ve been there. During orientation week, reach out to anyone wearing an orange “ASKme Anything” t-shirt with any questions you might have. You can also check out the askastudent blog to consult upper years and alumni on anything from tips for choosing courses to advice on whether or not to live in residence.

9. Stay connected

There’s no better way to stay in the know than keeping up with U of T News. You can follow us on Instagram, Facebook and on Twitter: tri-campus, U of T Mississauga or U of T Scarborough.

Read more about Back to School at U of T