Biology at Wilfred Laurier University
Nathan (Year 3)
What did you wish you knew before going to your university? What made you choose this institution over all others? What are advantages and disadvantages of your institution or campus? List any advice for incoming first-year students about your university.
I initially had no intention of going to Laurier and ended up here through a series of circumstances. In fact, I hadn't even visited the campus until the day I moved into residence. I had literally known nothing about Laurier before coming here. Despite that, I ended up really loving Laurier’s environment and atmosphere. It never felt competitive and everyone is always willing to help each other out, which I really enjoy. However, I do find that there are some things I did not like all that much. One of the biggest things was the meal plan for first year students. It was an "all you can eat buffet style" meal plan so although I never was hungry, I also felt like I was always over eating in order to make up for the cost. I also didn’t enjoy the food on some days, although most days were okay and some days were very good. In addition, our library isn’t quite as nice as other universities and I, personally, don’t study there very much. The campus itself is also very small which seems like a downside but it’s one of things I love the most about Laurier. Everything is close and it’s so easy to get to classes which is especially helpful in the winter. This also means we don’t have a lot of iconic buildings or that big campus experience that a lot of other universities have. Another downside to Laurier is that it’s very business oriented and the business buildings are a lot nicer than the science buildings. The science buildings aren’t bad, but the business buildings are very modern and new compared to the older science buildings. I also found that a lot of my professors had strong accents and it can make lectures more difficult to listen to and learn. Despite these negatives, I’ve had an amazing time at Laurier and I continue to enjoy my time there today.
What did you wish you knew before choosing your specific program? What are the advantages and disadvantages of your program? List any advice for incoming first-year students about your program of study.
I was originally in chemistry, however I recently switched to biology. I wish I knew how much lab time there was for chemistry majors before starting. In second year, the lab time was very overwhelming especially when lab reports are due on top of that. It becomes even more difficult to balance all that when it's midterm season. It’s still possible to get good grades, but lab reports were never a strength of mine and I did struggle a bit. It takes a lot of extra time to manage, so just be wary of that. However, all the chemistry professors and lab coordinators that I’ve had were all really good mentors for me and I’ve always enjoyed learning from them. It’s still a good program that just requires a bit more work and time than others.
What was your favourite university experience?
A few friends and I were studying for an exam the next day and we were all burnt out. We were sitting in the study room and just started going crazy laughing because we were just so tired. It was a really good moment because I hadn’t known these people for very long and it felt like I had known them forever with how crazy we were being. It’s always been memorable for me and reminded me that it’s not hard to connect with others if you’re willing to put yourself out there and be a little crazy.
What was your worst university experience?
My least favourite experience was getting a bad mark on one of my tutorials in biology. It seems kinda stupid but it was because in all the other tutorials, everyone had been doing well and this one tutorial, everyone had done poorly. It was completely up to the discretion of the TA’s and it reminded me of how unfair marking can be sometimes and how your grade can be at the mercy of whichever TA is marking it.
What is the hardest part about your program and what were the steps that you took to overcome any difficulties?
I had a lot of lab time and a lot of lab reports to write in second year. It takes a lot more time management and you really need to be on top of your work. I started using an agenda for only important assignments and dates, and another for weekly tasks. It helped to organize me and prioritize what needs to be done.
If you were able to take electives, what was your favourite elective? If you were not able to take electives, what was your favourite course and why?
I didn’t really enjoy any of the electives I had taken and wish I could redo some of them. However, the course I enjoyed most was statistics for life sciences. It came naturally to me and I felt really comfortable working with stats and numbers.