Philosophy: Student Testimonials

Ashwinder Suden

Specialist: Philosophy

 What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?

To be honest I've been very curious about how humans interact with the world around us and Philosophy is a perfect subject of studying that through metaphysics: the study of the nature of reality around us (i.e. 'Why was the world not nothing?' or 'Problems of Self Identity' how do I know who *I* am??). Also, how humans ought to act in terms of morality also interested me greatly. For more detail come visit the Philosophy department!!

Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?
 
Imagine a place where you can ask any question pertaining to the subject matter without feeling like it will hinder the class - that is Philosophy! Close friends interested in your subject, people of all years discussing deep problems within philosophy, talking to Profs who actually know your name (not to bad mouth other programs) and will help you attain your goals, that is the philosophy program! Your writing will flourish: philosophy will teach you to color your writing with beautiful expressions and elegant explanations your S.T.E.M counterparts could only dream of doing.

What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?
 
Firstly, I will not lie. There is an immense amount of reading; accordingly, you will have to transform yourself into a reading machine: slicing through essays and papers, diving into the heart of every paper, and arguing against things that don't hold up to the test of logic.
 
Secondly, learn to be generous to people with opposing views. For example, you may not like Kant (or be like me and do!) but hang on his every word as though he was your friend; to truly fight an argument you must first understand and represent your intellectual opponents in the strongest light possible. This is, of course, to make your arguments shine even brighter.
 
Lastly, doubt everything. Okay maybe not everything, but a good chunk of what you know should be analyzed for any flaws. Doing a reading you seem to agree with? Find some objection, no paper is perfect. Doing a reading you seem to not agree with? Fantastic, even more reason to find an objection. Have an idea? Ask someone. Have an objection to something your prof says? Ask them in class. Always ask questions; I haven't met a philosophy professor unhappy to take a question, no matter how wacky it may be!
 
What will you do with your degree after graduation? (Future plans?)
 
Personally, I am aiming to become a Professor. This however isn't for anyone and even my future isn't set in stone. I may be a lawyer, or perhaps a business man (check how philosophy majors do in the business school entrance exam). No matter what happens in the future, I know that the analytical and comprehensive reading and writing skills developed through my program in Philosophy, will always make me a strong force to be reckoned with in any work force.
 
What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?
 
First year was not so good. A ton of reading and not understanding everything the first time. A lot of question asking. A lot of being lost. However, I got through it all. You will too. Second year is where I currently am. Much better and much more fair since you now know the rules of the game and you can adjust much better. However, this is no excuse to coast. Take charge of your education and be the best student possible!

Stephanie Brown

Majors: Philosophy and Political Science
 

What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?
 
I have been interested in politics since high school but taking my first course in Philosophy in my first year made me want to major in that as well. I felt that learning critical thinking, argumentation, and reason would also help me in law school and beyond, as those skills are transferable to just about any field of work.
 
Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?
 
Being in a philosophy program is really great for a number of reasons. At first, class sizes are quite large and the material might be very different from your other courses, but you will find very early on that you will have plenty of opportunity to form your own opinions based on the material in class. I went to a Catholic school, so for me it was exciting to be able to critically engage with topics such as religion or morality. As you go through the upper years, the topics get more in depth and the material is sometimes quite difficult, but your classes will be smaller and you will have a lot of opportunities to discuss the material with your professor and your peers. As a result, you tend to get to know the people in your classes and make friends along the way. Majoring in Philosophy requires that you be prepared to do a lot of reading and writing. Learning to read and write philosophy articles is critical to your success in the program and courses such as Writing for Philosophy are designed to give you the skills you need to be successful in a Philosophy program.
 
What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?
 
Tip #1 - Get to know the people in your program! The philosophy department is relatively small and you'll start to see familiar faces after taking a few classes. Your peers are a great resource to discuss ideas you might have for a paper or assignment. Plus it is really fun and interesting to get to know your fellow students and their views and opinions as well.
Tip #2 - Don't be afraid to start with the B-level philosophy courses right away! Many B level philosophy courses have no prerequisites and are accessible to students without much background in philosophy. If you ever run into trouble your TAs and your professor are always there to help.
 
What will you do with your degree after graduation?
 
I have applied to law school for the upcoming fall semester
 
What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?
 
In first year, I mainly took general courses at the A level as I was not yet completely sure what I wanted to focus on but settled on doing a double major of Political Science and Philosophy. In second year, I made more connections on campus and joined clubs on groups which led me to get to know a huge variety of people on campus. In third year, I became very involved with the philosophy department as the president of the Association of Philosophy Students. Now I am in fourth year and I am focusing on what I plan to do after I graduate.

Soaad Qahhār Hossain

Specialists:
Statistics: Statistical Machine Learning and Data Mining Stream
& Philosophy: Mind, Metaphysics and Epistemology Focus

What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?

I have an interested in many areas and industries. I find the mind, machines, brains, knowledge and learning fascinating. These are my primary reasons why I chose my programs. Additionally, the influences that contributed to the programs that I chose was through performing market research in my first two years as an undergraduate, learning about myself, and learning from others. I spoke to many individuals in the industry regarding what employers are seeking. After that, I spent time fully understanding where my strengths and weaknesses lie. During that time, I also found out what exactly I want to do with my life. Finally, those helped me finalize my decisions, leading to me pursuing a double specialist in statistics and philosophy.
 
Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?

For the statistics program, the way the program is designed is that the program first exposes you to introductory material during your first two years as an undergraduate student. Students are exposed to areas of computer science, mathematics, probability theory, and statistics. In both third and fourth year, students become exposed to more advanced material, specifically in areas in computer science, probability theory, and statistics. In the courses focused on areas probability theory and statistics, students will primarily learn the theory, reasoning, critical thinking and problem-solving skills required to create machine learning and data mining algorithms. In the courses focused on areas of computer science, students will be able to apply their critical thinking and analytical skills along with their knowledge in machine learning and data mining to create applications that utilizes complex algorithms.

What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?

1. Learn time management, organization, and to prioritization. I highly recommend mastering these three things as quick as possible. From my personal experience, while I am not an expert at these three yet, having learned how to manage my time, stay on top of things and prioritize what needed to be done as soon as possible allowed me to be maximize my time in a day. Not only was I able to get eight hours of sleep daily, but I was also able to be a full-time student, work three jobs at some point during my academic journey, and have time-off to socialize and relax.

2. Know your limits and learn from mistakes and failures. No one is perfect and no one can do everything. Mistakes and failing at things happen. It is how we learn from those mistakes and failures that matters. Learn from your mistakes so you do not make the same mistakes again. Failing is interesting as society sees it as something negative. However, from personal experience, I can confidently say that failing at things was the best thing that happened to me. I learned so much about myself and others that I did not know before. The most important lessons I learned from them was knowing my limits and when to stop and move on as well as learning how to stay strong during hard times and move forward. Through learning these, I learned exactly how real motivation, courage, confidence, happiness, and success feels like.

3. Get involved on and off-campus. The first organization that I was accepted to and joined was in University of Toronto St. George Campus known as Juxtaposition Global Health Magazine. Little did I know that by joining that organization, it would change my undergraduate experience and impact my life in every aspect directly. My positive experience from being part of that organization motivated me to join more organizations on both St. George and Scarborough Campus. I was able to meet many different people, exposed to multiple unique opportunities and made countless friends. I also learned many things that a textbook and classroom would never have and will never be able to teach me as well. Being involved with the community at the University of Toronto is one of the best things that happened in my life as it helped make positive changes in my life and made lifelong friends that I would have never met. I will always be grateful and thankful for making friends that the perfect combination of every positive thing from amazing to trustworthy.

What will you do with your degree after graduation? (Future plans?)

I have many plans for what I want to do with my degree. I have a strong interest in both research and entrepreneurship. My dream is to do research within artificial intelligence. After completing my first Independent Study in third year, I have developed a strong interest in operational research and interest in doing research in probabilistic computational psychology and neuroscience. Additionally, after second year when I competed in the Hult Prize competition at the Rotman School of Management in the University of Toronto, I have always wanted to start my own company. To decide between research and entrepreneurship is tough for me. Combining both together is extremely tough as both requires time, money, effort and commitment. I am still contemplating on whether to pursue a master’s program, start my own enterprise or continue my current job in project management for at least a year or two before considering doing a master’s program or starting my own company. Nonetheless, I like to keep my options open and see how things go and where life takes me.

What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?

My academic journey currently and has been tremendously different from other students. I had a very rough first and second year as an undergraduate student. Thankfully, it was through the help and support from six very dear and close friends of mine and assistance from my counselor that has helped me stay strong and motivated to help me get to where I am in my academic journey. I will admit that I am not the smartest and brightest student out there. I have failed many times during my academic journey. However, despite all the academic, social, professional, psychological, and personal challenges that I had to go through, I can proudly and confidently say that all these challenges and obstacles that I had to face and overcome during my academic journey has allowed me to transform into the person that I always wanted to be. Through my academic journey, I was able to experience thirty years’ worth of experiences in three years as an undergraduate student, positively impacting and changing my life forever.