Candice (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 choose this institution over others, as I had a great first impression of the university from attending the open house day and reading about its programs and communities. At the time, I also knew many Waterloo alumni who had enjoyed their experience at Waterloo and recommended me to go. For anyone who has a few universities in mind but are unsure of which to choose, I strongly suggest you visit the university if you have the chance. This will familiarize you with not only the community there but also the atmosphere of the university. It is very important that you feel comfortable and welcomed in a place that you will be spending your next few years.
Before going to university, I wish I knew more about how to study efficiently. In the beginning of my first year, I would usually be on top of my work and would have the time to look over my materials before class. However, when exams came along, I always had to cram the materials in order to finish reviewing everything on time. This led to a very unhealthy sleep schedule during the exam period, which affected my performance for some of these assessments.
An obvious advantage of Waterloo University is their renowned coop program and the experiences offered here. Although my program does not offer coop, I found that performing well on my courses opened many opportunities for me as well. These included an offer to assist in tutoring students after class and a higher chance of getting into teaching assistant positions. A disadvantage would be the price of living in Waterloo. Unless you live further away from campus or decide to find a sublease, finding a place that is walking distance from the university is very costly.
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 wish I knew how time consuming the lab courses were for my program. Although I have gained many important practical skills from these courses, the workload can sometimes get overwhelming. It is very important to give yourself enough time to prepare and complete the reports for every lab. I emphasize this point, as I made the mistake of underestimating the time it would take to research and complete reports for my lab courses. Since most of my labs required both pre-lab and post-lab work, not being able to manage your time well will lead you to easily fall behind in your other courses.
An advantage of my program would be that many of the required courses provide you with a good foundation for various medical professions. It is also easy to fit in additional courses to attain a minor in a related field. A disadvantage as stated before would be that my program does not offer a coop program.
What was your favourite university experience?
My best experience at university would be most of my first year, as the university offered many opportunities to meet new people and network. For your first year, I suggest living in the university residences if you can. During my time there, I was able to meet many new people, who I was able to become good friends with, as it was very convenient to meet up and there were always new events for us to participate in.
What was your least favourite university experience?
My worst university experience would be the stress that I felt during exam seasons as mentioned before. However, it is definitely manageable if you manage time efficiently and set a schedule for yourself ahead of time.
What is the hardest part about your program and what were the steps that you took to overcome any difficulties?
Aside from the difficulty of having to manage the lab and lecture work, which is a requirement for almost all science programs, I would say that it can be more difficult than other programs to find good job opportunities. These opportunities are definitely out there, but because of the lack of a cooperative program, you have to take extra initiative to grab opportunities as they come. It will be very helpful to visit your professors' office hours and get to know them. Useful opportunities can come from making good impressions on them and showing that you are interested in what they are teaching.
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?
One of my favourite courses is PSYCH 101 (Introductory to Psychology). As a side interest, I have always been fascinated with behavioral science. This course not only teaches many interesting concepts, but it also gives you the opportunity to partake and assist in research studies of your interest!