Surviving your First Year of CS @ UTM

Credit to /u/xalana0x on /r/UTM for this hilarious post!

What is POSt?

After applying for CS and being admitted to UTM, you’re not in the program yet. If you check Acorn, your program will be listed as “First Year Studies in Computer Sc. Math & Stats”.

What are the requirements?

For 2020–2021, the finalized requirements were:

  • 80% minimum grade in CSC148
  • 73% minimum grade in MAT102
  • 3.0 CGPA

How hard is it?

It’s difficult but definitely doable. For reference, 2019–2020 had identical requirements and ~23% of applicants got in (keep in mind that this is including applicants not only in 1st year).

Requirements

CS Specialist, from the Academic Calendar
  • a minimum of 4.0 credits
  • CSC108 (Intro to Computer Programming)
  • CSC148
  • MAT102
  • Calculus: MAT135+MAT136 or MAT137 or MAT157 or MAT132 + MAT134
  • EDIT: You also need ISP100

CSC108

CSC148

Written by: Naaz Sibia

Mathematics

Written by: Akira Takaki, edited by me

  • do: (MAT135, MAT136, MAT223, MAT232). Your focus here are on a very layman’s understanding of the theorems, and the main teaching objective is by assuming theorems, making you know how to do the computations. practicing the textbook problems is the key here.
  • understand: (MAT102, MAT137, MAT157, MAT240, MAT257). your focus here is about arguments, so the professor proves big theorems in class, and you need to understand how they related the visual logic with the symbolic logic. Meditating on theorems is as important as practicing problems here.
  • do: for MAT135/MAT136 (and similar courses), you want to make sure you understand the weird behaviour that happens in theorems. for example, the limit of a composition of functions given by a graph!
  • The first time you might look at these problems it might look easy, but you should not passively learn. Practice, practice and practice on your own. It doesn’t need to be a lot of time, but if you can dedicate a focused amount of time each day (start with 15–30 minutes!) to doing practice and/or assignments, you’ll go far.
  • understand: for MAT137/MAT240 (and similar courses), you want to make sure you understand the dance (yes, dance!) between the symbols and the visuals. The dance between these two is a fundamental theme in mathematics, where you’re able to translate words into symbols and vice-versa.
  • in this vein, you should really clarify any confusions you have with TAs and profs, since they have their own understanding tricks for each concept! personally, i end up spending shower time and toilet time really thinking about these concepts (haha nerd) and get eureka! moments

MAT102

For students coming from Ontario highschools, MAT102 is pretty difficult to wrap your head around. This is your first exposure to non-computational maths, where you use theorems and logic to prove things!

  • Be aware of the nit-picky stuff. just like in CSC108, there’s a lot of nit-picky details that us 102 TAs want you to state. Proofs are just arguments in math, and you should justify (with English!) how what you did is true, because it follows from other true things.
  • Stay on the ball. There’s usually a 10% quiz within one or two weeks of the class starting, and it’s going to hit you — hard. If it doesn’t, maybe math is your thing? Either way, you want to make sure you know your deadlines and don’t fall behind, because this course has a ton of deadlines.
  • Practice, a lot. You need to start practicing every day, early on, by doing practice problems. MAT102 has a decent amount of computational practice that you need to get down pat.
  • Start early! If something comes out, you need to look at it as early as possible. You can’t cram this course, and you need to really start asking questions early. Problem sets are a marathon, never a sprint.
  • If you end up liking this course, consider taking MAT240 (linear algebra for proofs), which is offered only in the winter. It’s a really fun continuation of some of the concepts you’ve now learnt, and is less pedantic.

General Advice

  • Do not procrastinate. Try to get into the habit of starting early!
  • Find friends that align with your goals and collaborate together
  • Use the resources available to you
  • Study from past materials

Conclusion

The last thing that I wanted to say is: you belong here. UofT is known for being academically rigorous, and during your time here you’ll be challenged and pushed to your limit. It happens to a lot of people — even some of my most accomplished peers experience imposter syndrome. But at the end of the day, grades are just a number. Your academics make up a small portion of what makes you you.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store