Course enrollment is done, and I’m sure that at least 70% of you first years will have at least one class in Con Hall. Its building code is CH– and, every time I see it, I shudder. You see, I’ve spent every day of two school years in Con Hall. Unfortunately, being a Life Sci student means that a good chunk of your first and second years will likely be spent sitting in there, watching your seemingly tiny professor lecture off three screens. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the 20-second clip below. Yes, people do mess with the screens when they’re bored.
A lot of popular 100-level courses take place in there, so it’s inevitable that most students won’t just graduate there; they’ll start their university careers there too. To get yourself off to a good start, there are a few things you might want to know.
1. There are no desks.
Well, Con Hall is where all the graduations happen, and you can’t expect the graduates and guests to write notes, right? That means that, when classes happen in there, students have to fend for themselves when it comes to note-taking. I suggest using a stiff notebook or a clipboard when writing. Printing off and writing on lecture slides, if they’re posted online, is also suggested. If you prefer to use a laptop to take notes, you might want to bring a binder or textbook to place the laptop on, or try stacking a few notebooks to elevate your computer so you’re more comfortable.
2. Seats are hot commodities.
There are two general patterns when it comes to seating in Con Hall. 1. The earlier on in the course, the hotter the seats. 2. The lower the course level, the hotter the seats. The reason behind the first pattern is because people drop or skip courses throughout the semester, so it gets less tight as the semester goes on. As for the second pattern, many 100-level courses are common prerequisites for programs and upper-level courses. As such, everyone has to take them. In order to get good seats, there are a few things you can try.
First, get there early. Then, think about your options. Front seats don’t always mean the best spot in the house. If you’re hard of hearing, look for the speakers along the first balcony. If you want a great view of the big screen, try the elevated seats in the center. If you want something comfortable and less claustrophobic (and if you’re feeling up for a hike), go to the very top or to the side balconies. Francesca wrote a post about seating earlier this year, which may help you find out which spot is right for you.
3. Internet sucks in there.
While we like to fancy ourselves as a totally connected campus, Con Hall has the absolute worst UTORwin wi-fi network. There is one place where internet is mildly usable, and that’s the very top balcony. If you like to ‘search things up as you go along’ (ahem), be sure to get a seat up there.
4. Make sure you know your professor’s email and office hours.
After class, you may not be able to get to talk to your professor. Remember, there are only 10 minutes before the next class begins, so talking to your professor after class isn’t really an option unless you sit in one of the first five rows, if there is no class after yours, or if you run like the wind as soon as class is dismissed. Even then, the crowds of people will hold you up. Knowing your professor’s email and office hours will help you get in touch with them if you ever need help. Office hours are posted to give you a chance to ask questions and have a conversation. Much better than rushing and lining up, in my opinion. If you’re afraid you may not be able to remember your question, write it down as soon as you can.
5. Try not to talk too much.
It’s inevitable that you will talk during class in Con Hall. It’s just so big that raising your voice won’t distract the prof from lecturing. As such, people tend to talk louder than you would normally think is polite. However, there have been many times when I’ve been distracted by someone’s talking (usually about some party where everyone but them got smashed) and missed everything my prof said. It gets annoying, so do yourself and your neighbours a courtesy and try to keep your voice down.
6. Don’t feel overwhelmed.
There are a lot of people at U of T. I remember my prof telling my BIO150 class on the first day of school that there were 1700 of us in our Con Hall class. When you get in there and see the hoards of people, keep calm and don’t run (too fast). The last thing you want is to get trampled. Because there are so many people, be prepared for backpacks accidentally hitting your head as people slide past you to get to the middle seats. Also, when this happens, try not to get too angry; chances are, your bag has smacked a couple of heads too. You can pack less, or just bring what you need for that class and store the rest of your things in rentable lockers around campus, just like in high school.
You may just spend one semester in there, or spend two years (and hopefully no more), like me. Either way, you’re spending time in the hall you will eventually graduate in. While it sucks being in there prematurely, it gives you plenty of time to plan an escape route for when you finally do graduate.
If any upper years have any more tips and tricks to Con Hall, comment below! In the meantime, enjoy Pacman running around during a biochemistry lecture.