Thinking Ahead: Getting the Most Out of York’s College System

Posted by Megan on February 17, 2014

Journey to the Centre of York

As some of you might know, York is one of a few universities that offers a College system.

Today I’m going to spend some time talking about the College system and how to get the most out of it.

First things first, being assigned to a college does not mean that you are IN college. This was a common misunderstanding in my first year at York.

The college system is also used in the UK (and other places I’m sure) and rather than being an actual college (in the sense of a more practical/applied institute), it is a system that breaks up our huge campus into smaller communities.

Each college is connected with programs and a residence. Because of this, if you decide to live on campus you can choose to have your college be your program (the default) or by your residence. While it can work out both ways I strongly recommend that you stick with the college of your program. Try to get your residence to line up with that also, but it isn’t necessary.

Why should you line it up with your program? Because each college offers resources tailored to the programs within it. For example, Calumet (my college) offers free tutoring for Psych students. You can certainly still use some of these resources if you aren’t affiliated with the college, but it’s more convenient if you are.

Another reason you should go with your progam’s college is the fact that the majority of students in your degree-specific classes will be in the college for their program. This means that you will likely be able to network better with people already in your program. This might not make a huge difference in first year when class sizes are so big, but as you progress through university you will realise you know more and more people and these connections can help you in numerous ways. And don’t forget – if you are living in residence they are going to have their own events so it’s not like you won’t meet people there throughout the year also.

So what colleges are there? Note: Most of these are connected with a residence of the same name, but I’ll mark the ones that don’t line up.

  • Founders – shares with Winters residence.
  • Winters 
  • Glendon – any student at Glendon is automatically part of Glendon college. The campus is small enough that there is already a beautiful community here so further colleges aren’t necessary 🙂
  • Calumet
  • Stong
  • Bethune
  • McLaughlin (also known as Mac) –  connected with Tatham Hall residence.
  • New – connected with Pond residence.
  • Vanier

To find out which college you are connected with (by program) you can click here.

If your faculty is Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LAPS) than you should definitely take a look because the programs are divided between the colleges. However, the other faculties have been neatly divided such that: Faculty of Environmental Studies is linked with FoundersFaculty of Fine Arts is connected to WintersFaculty of Health is connected with Calumet (Psych, Health Info/Management/Policy) and Stong (Kines/Nursing); Lassonde School of Engineering is connected with BethuneSchulich is connected with Calumet; and lastly, Faculty of Science is connected with Bethune.

So when do you first connect with your college?

In late summer, likely around the end of July or beginning of August, your college will mail you a package. It will contain information about your academic and social orientations. Make sure you try your hardest to attend BOTH.

Academic orientation is ESSENTIAL to understanding the administrative side of your degree – knowing what credits you need, where to go for advising, etc.

Social orientation  is also NECESSARY because it helps you network with your peers. Frosh can be intimidating to think about for those of us that are introverts however if you go into it with an open mind, you’ll have a great time. Your college will prepare tons of icebreakers to make you comfortable and likely within the first day or two you will start connecting with your first friends. As the week progresses you will participate in all sorts of fun activities and day trips (like Wonderland, Wasaga beach, etc.). Note: Make sure you set aside around $80-130 because social orientation is not free. However you will MORE than get your worth out of the week (between events and your frosh ‘kit’ which contains a bunch of goodies) and it does make a big difference as to whether or not you will enjoy and have success in your first year.

Having a social life (which doesn’t necessarily mean partying for the concerned parents out there, there is so much that goes on at York that doesn’t involve partying) is 100% ESSENTIAL to having a successful time at university. It helps relieve stress, gives you new experiences and perspectives, increases your support network, etc.

After frosh your college will also host a bunch of events throughout the year. There will be movie and game nights, trips over Reading week, Frost week (like social orientation but during the winter), and so on. Every college also has a Facebook page so make sure to look them up and give them a like to keep updated with events! Just double check that there are current posts because I noticed a couple colleges have ghost pages.

Finally, remember the title of this post. These are important points that I think you need to get the MOST out of the college system. You can certainly get through university without it and you can do what some students do in coming to school for classes and then leaving right away. But I can guarantee that you won’t be as happy or successful as you could have been. You won’t have the same experience and connection to the school. So please keep these implications in mind 🙂

Well, that’s it. Do you have any questions, comments, or concerns about York’s college system? Write to me below!



Megan is a third-year Psychology student. Follow her on her journey of self-development as she explores and ventures through campus.

See other posts by Megan