Adrian (Year 2)
What made you choose this institution over all others? Did the university exceed your expectations?
Interestingly, I actually declined Western's offer and was entering University of Hong Kong halfway across the globe for LLB & BBA (law & business joint degree). However, my family and I decided that it would be best to return to Canada for post-secondary due to the tensions that were present and which have only escalated since last year. After emailing the Canadian Universities that I initially applied to, I was fortunate that they were willing to "readmit" me and I ended up choosing Western University. Looking back, it does seem to have been the safer choice, but I still constantly wonder if that was indeed the right decision in the grand scheme.
Do you have any lingering thoughts or regrets in your year as a whole (ex; application process, mistakes going into first year). If so, describe them.
With so much to explore in University, I think that my regret is largely similar to those of my peers - not doing enough. The number of activities I could engage in each day always dwarfs the finite amount of time I have on hand. Perhaps I could have picked up a couple more skills over the year (such as coding, have always told myself I would self-learn it, but never gotten the motivation to do so). Perhaps I could have spent more time going out and meeting new people. Perhaps I could have accomplished more at the clubs/organizations I was in or rather joined more clubs. At the end of the day, everyone is bound to have regrets no matter what they have done over the years. I think it is important to know what you value and prioritize those things over others so you can diminish those guilty feelings and maximize your feelings of accomplishment.
Briefly describe the academic rigour of your program (in terms of competitiveness, courses, professors, etc.)
Course load was pretty light especially considering that I am in BMOS - an infamously bird program in the first year or two. If I were to give advice, it is to take the easiest professor available in terms of marking or assignments (ask upper year friends), then go to the lectures of the best professor available in terms of teaching.
Personal experience: I had a math prof with a thick accent and a super slow pace in whose class I have yet to stay awake for more than 10 minutes. About a month in, I decided to sneak into my friend's class whose prof gives second year homework as marked assignments, but is efficient in teaching.
Describe the social life at your campus based on your own experiences (making friends, clubs + extracurriculars, party culture etc.)
Given that I literally came back to Canada late August two days before school started, I was not given a choice for residence as the others were filled (turned out to be a big fat lie, administrators were just too lazy to go through the process and just told me I cannot switch). I was assigned to the rumoured party residence and almost dreaded coming to Western. Turns out my floor mates were extremely friendly (not as crazy as I imagined) and the year went by smoothly.
It is possible I just lucked out to have met these people and my friends, but at a university with tens of thousands of people, there is bound to be at least one that you click with. Don't be afraid to be the first one to say hi when you meet someone sitting next to you in the first class, at some club general meeting, etc. Worst comes to worst, the person thinks you are weird and you never meet again (who cares, not like they will remember after a week). Don't forget, all first-years are in the same situation as you are.
What was the best part of your university experience so far?
I was an adult and I got to choose what I wanted to do each day. I can skip a whole week of classes to do random things or I could spend the whole week grinding. All depends on your personal values and what you want to get out of each and every single day.
List three effective study techniques and/or habits:
TEST BANKS! This is literally the university equivalent of cheating, except everyone does it and there's nothing profs can or are willing to do (most of the time, they are lazy). Psst, it's actually very easy to cheat during exams but don't do it! Remember the uni average is around 70 so there's quite a high chance the person next to you worse than you or is in fact failing (if you are average)
Find some smart friends and ask them to help you. If you are the smart one, find some friends who aren't that dumb and try to teach them to reinforce your learning
Learning things for the second time is much easier. Try to do the readings required before class (unless you can't, in which case try to catch up soon)
List three pieces of advice for first-year students:
Know what you want and know what you need to do to get what you want so you do not regret it. The cognitive function to plan is what separates us from animals (I think) so use it to your advantage.
Say yes to everything at first, go to those clubs, apply for those positions, attend the parties etc. You can always reject them later on should you want to narrow the scope subsequently
Try and enjoy the process, you signed up and paid for it. Couple years down the road we are all likely going to be crying about our OSAP in our McDonald's hats.