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Jun 22 2017
by Nikki Frazer

A Freshman's Guide to the University of Toronto's Colleges

By Nikki Frazer - Jun 22 2017
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The University of Toronto in Canada is a unique school in that in addition to its three campuses, the main downtown campus, St. George, resembles Hogwarts. Sadly, there are no magic classes, but each student in the arts and science faculty belongs to a "college," a place where their residence, registrar's office and home-base is on the huge campus.

Incoming freshman must rank these colleges in order of preference before being “placed” by the sorting hat. This list will introduce the colleges with some fun facts and information, hopefully inspiring all that are interested to do some of their own research to choose their perfect home away from home!

1. Victoria College

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Victoria College, informally called Vic, is named after Queen Victoria and was founded in 1836. This historic college is located along the upper east side of the St. George campus, by the famous Bloor Street, which is known for its shopping and housing the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). Some of its famous alumni include Nobel laureate and prime minister Lester B. Pearson and author Margaret Atwood. Despite being located on the opposite corner of the campus from many science buildings, Vic is home to a wide variety of arts and science students. One of the attractions of this college is its emphasis on small seminar classes, which allow students to interact in classes of around 20, in contrast to many first year classes of a few hundred students. The dining hall here, Burwash Hall, is designed after the Great Hall used in the Harry Potter films, the Christ Church College dining hall at Oxford University, so maybe Vic really does have some magic in it! 

 2. St. Michael's College

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St. Mike's, being Victoria College's neighbor, is located in the same upper east corner of the campus, directly beside Queen's Park. Founded in 1852 by French priests, St. Mike's is known as a college with religious roots, but welcome to all. Also, despite being surrounded by the tall skyscrapers of Toronto, St. Mike's resembles a little village with all of its separate buildings close together, and has a close community feeling. One of their notable alumni is ice hockey Olympic gold medalist, Lori Dupuis. Along with holding the residence and lecture halls, the campus of St. Mikes also houses the Kelly Library, which happens to have a Rare Book Room — Restricted Section anybody?

3. Trinity College

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Trin, founded in 1851, is one of the smaller colleges at U of T. However, this means that it is easier to get involved with great organizations, such as "The Lit," one of the oldest university debating societies! Also, Trin has a famed student government that is deeply involved with the college's affairs and relies on its students to help make Trin run. Interestingly enough, Trin students have formal gowns which they wear to student government meetings and to formal meals. They would also be great Hogwarts robes! 

4. University College

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University College, with its confusing name, is often simply nicknamed UC. UC is the founding college at the University of Toronto, and suitably is located at the heart of the St. George Campus along King's College Circle. UC is proud of its many student organizations, including the oldest democratically elected student group in Canada, the Literacy and Athletic Society and its dragonboat team. UC also has the U of T Art Center inside of its buildings, which has rotating exhibits every year. You can also often see the University of Toronto St. George Quidditch team practicing on the lawn in front of UC (yes, there really is a Quidditch team)!

5. New College

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New College, as it may sound, is one of the youngest Colleges at U of T, and was founded in 1962 on the west side of campus. New prides itself on its diverse group of students, accommodating students from the arts and science faculty to music. New is also the headquarters of many U of T clubs and institutes, including the Black Students' Association and the Women and Gender Studies Institute. The buildings at New were built to accommodate the busy life of a student, as the first and second floors house academic spaces and admin offices, with the residence rooms above. Look out for moving staircases! 

6. Innis College

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Innis, founded in 1964, is located on the northwest side of campus, beside Robarts Library, which is the biggest library on campus. Innis presents the small-town community feel, with its Victorian-style-meets-modern architecture, among the large St. George campus. Innis even has a town hall, where Cinema Studies and Free Friday Films take place. Despite Innis being a young college, they have found a way to preserve U of T history by naming all of their residence floors after past U of T buildings and alumni. One of U of T's green spaces also lives at Innis, the Innis Green courtyard. Watch out for mandrakes!

7. Woodsworth College

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Woodsworth, established in 1974, was designed as a college for returning adult students pursuing degrees part-time. Present day, Woodsworth is known as a diverse and supportive college welcoming students of all ages and interests. Many clubs have Woodsworth as their headquarters, including the Criminology Students Association. As many of their students commute to school, Woodsworth has designed small lounges, like the Kruger Hall Commons, to allow group work and studying to take place on campus. Woodsworth is home to the summer abroad program at U of T as well, which allows students to take U of T courses in over 12 countries. Keep an eye out for Platform 9 3/4! 

And there you have it, the rundown of the college system. Of course, there are some honorable mentions to go over. For instance, engineering students don’t belong to a college, but rather the engineering faculty acts as their registrar, and they just decide on residence halls from the seven colleges. Plenty of students commute from other places of residence to the campus as well, yet still are an important part of their college. The key to making your chosen college your home is to take advantage of the opportunities and resources offered by your registrar and to learn your college cheers during frosh week! 

Lead Image Credit: Brendan Church via Unsplash

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Nikki Frazer - University of Toronto

Nikki is a student at the downtown campus of the University of Toronto studying Physics and Philosophy. She loves the wilderness of her home in B.C, as well as the energy of the biggest city in Canada!

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