The Ultimate University Survival Guide

It’s that time of the year again: back to school and time to hit the books, and time to make the most of the resources available to you. We are both University of Toronto graduates here at The Girls on Bloor, and include some great advice in our University Survival Guide! Read on for our tips & tricks.

Ultimate University Guide

Get to know your Profs

I’m normally an A student, and was having trouble with one of my courses a couple of years ago. I had received 60% on a paper that I spent weeks working on, and so I finally emailed the prof to ask where I went wrong. We ended up having such a great conversation at his office, and he ended up offering to regrade my paper which resulted in a drastically different 77% re-mark. The prof also gave me some helpful pointers for the final exam, which I later aced, and this ultimately brought up my final grade.

After that experience, I started going to see my professors more, and my grades improved even further. I also made amazing connections and appreciated my courses more. You never know when you will need a reference for a job, or further education about a certain subject. Being able to network with such highly accomplished people is a rare opportunity and comes with the price of tuition, so take advantage of it!

Wait to buy your books

Too many times, students go out and buy books online from Amazon (which take weeks to be delivered by the way), or wait in a huge long line-up for an overpriced textbook. There are soooo many other options. The Toronto Public Library has a huge variety and often times you can keep renewing the same book over and over again–I was able to keep a book for 2 months once!

Ultimate University Survival Guide

There are also usually student book exchange websites like Tusbe & Ryebooksthat allow you to sell your used books for a reasonable price to another student, so that you can get most out of your money back after you move on to another class, unlike the bookstore that will buy a $100 book (in pristine condition) back from you for about $20.


This is definitely underrated advice. Volunteering not only helps you meet new people, gain a reference, and introduce you to new skills that may be helpful for your resume, but it often allows you time to get outside of your own bubble and put your personal problems aside to help others. I have volunteer-tutored high school kids and it’s always been an activity that brings purpose and meaning to my life. Check your university’s career centre for some really cool opportunities.

Get Involved

You don’t have to join every student group, but it’s helpful to join groups that will assist you in future career choices. I wrote for plenty of different student newspapers and co-edited a student blog, and while I didn’t necessarily make any close friends from joining these groups, I definitely broadened my social network. I also expanded my opportunities to learn more about a field I’m passionate about, which in turn assisted with my application for my Masters degree.

Research student discounts

More often than not, your student union should give you discounts on public transit, movie tickets, etc. What you may not know however, is that most local businesses are also more than happy to offer you a student discount. Sobey’s has a policy of 10% off groceries for post-secondary students at certain locations from Tues-Thurs, and the SPC card will save you 10-20% off at stores and fast food restaurants. And don’t forget to sign up for discounted internet service with Bell orRogers as it’s a significant savings.

Ultimate University Survival Guide SPC Card

Investing in your education is perhaps one of the most important things you can do in life, and one of the most expensive, so you might as well give it your all!

Did I miss anything in my university survival guide? What are your tips & tricks to surviving student life?


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