Jonathan (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 chose University of Waterloo initially because of their co-op program (I initially applied for University of Waterloo's medicinal chemistry major under their physical sciences program, co-op is not available for biomedical sciences majors). As you will alternate between work and study terms, you would have the chance to explore different areas of your field of study and find out what will interest you the most.
Another reason why I chose University of Waterloo was because this institution provides a lot of resources and in-person help in regards to improving and editing your resume and cover letters. Though I have switched out into a program that does not have co-op, they still offered many services that have greatly benefited me. For instance, I have used their service when I wanted to get my resume checked over before applying for a part-time job in order to help pay off my monthly rent. The people who helped me provided feedback that was very specific and informative! (I ended up getting the job too!)
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.
One thing that I really love about studying biomedical sciences at University of Waterloo is the flexibility of the degree. As I switched into biomedical sciences from medicinal chemistry, there were some courses that I have taken in my previous major which were not so relevant to my current career goals. But thankfully, due to the large number of electives, studying biomedical sciences does give me enough space to take all the required courses for optometry school as well as other courses for a back up career in case my first choice does not work out.
What is really great about biomedical sciences is that not only do many of the core courses align with prerequisite classes for professional school, you can also study in this program if you want to pursue graduate school. Due to the large number of electives, you can tailor your courses to many areas of science (such as molecular biology or bioinformatics) that you may find interesting.
A disadvantage about this program would be the lack of co-op. If you are someone who wants to go straight into the workforce after receiving your bachelor's degree, you may potentially have less prior work experience if you were to study biomedical sciences compared to someone who has studied biology and was in the co-op stream, for instance, at University of Waterloo.
What was your favourite university experience?
One of my best university experiences is meeting new people during my lab courses. As you are paired with the same person for the rest of the term for that specific course, you get to spend time building a friendly relationship with them! All of my lab partners were really fun to talk to and thanks to them, performing the laboratory experiments were extremely enjoyable.
What was your least favourite university experience?
One of my worst experiences would be realizing that I did not get picked to be an executive member for a club. I really wanted to be more involved within the university community and use these experiences to enhance my leadership and time management skills. It was definitely discouraging, but you have to be resilient in university and find other ways to meet your goals.
What is the hardest part about your program and what were the steps that you took to overcome any difficulties?
The hardest part of my program would be the quantity of information being presented to you in each course. I always tried to make sure that I completely understood all the concepts presented to me in the previous lecture before attending the next one since for many if not all of my classes, the next lecture's content is usually connected with the previous one. There have been times when I slacked off and did not bother to fully absorb what was taught in the previous lecture which resulted in a snowball effect with me being behind multiple lectures forcing me to relearn a lot of the material a week before large evaluations.
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 would be ENGL 193/SPCOM 193 (the course codes are different but they are the exact same course) (it is a core course for all science majors). The reason being is that with the small class size, there were a lot of group work activities which allowed me to interact with much more students than I would compared to other traditional science courses. Furthermore, the content of the course is very useful for a science student as there is a large emphasis on communicating your ideas concisely and being able to transmit scientific findings to the general public effectively by limiting the use of scientific terminology.
If you are planning to come to University of Waterloo to study science, I strongly suggest that you volunteer for the university's Let's Talk Science Outreach events. You get to run workshops for elementary and high school students and share your love for science with them! It is really really fun! This is a great opportunity to improve your leadership and public speaking abilities as well!