Chemical Engineering at University of Toronto (St. George)
Eleanor (Year 2)
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.
One thing I wish I knew before going to university is how much I'd be challenged academically. I entered university believing that I wouldn't struggle because I took the international baccalaureate program. It took me until the second semester to become better adjusted to the university learning style. And that's okay! There are many advantages to the University of Toronto Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering (FASE). The community consists of some of the brightest, creative, and kindest people. Everyone supports one another through their academic journey and there's something for everyone! U of T is constantly innovating in research, fostering a positive learning environment, and keeping the campus clean. FASE also has a great co-op program for engineers. One disadvantage is that living on campus is extremely expensive and I commute. Commuting isn't very difficult and there are many other commuters at the school but for anyone out there, consider the cost of residence!
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 that I had nothing to fear. I was nervous that I might have selected the wrong program. As a ChemE, many people claim "we can't get jobs''. That is entirely false. Chemical engineering, and all engineering for that matter, provides you with broad-based training. We are in every industry you could think of; from TTC to Data and analytics. My advice to first years would be to not choose a discipline known for "making you the most money". The notion that certain engineering disciplines make more money or have more job options is false. It will be difficult to succeed in engineering if you don't have a natural passion or excitement for the content you are learning. Choose your discipline because it interests you, and the success will follow if you work hard.
What was your favourite university experience?
My best experience at university was meeting new people and enjoying engineering culture. With my friends, I got to explore Toronto, struggle through problem sets, and participate in fun engineering events. There is more to university than studying and it's good to take a step back and enjoy socializing with friends.
What was your least favourite university experience?
My worst experience was waiting for final grades to be released. It is intense and worrisome because you're always paranoid about how you performed in your final exams or projects.
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 was figuring out what study habits worked for me. I struggled a lot with Calculus 1 and Linear Algebra. Reflecting on my performance, I now understand that I made a crucial error. I did not do my homework practice questions. In university, it is easy to dedicate yourself to assignments but you should also make time for extra practice. I didn't do additional practice and instead studied off past midterms/exams. This technique can work for some courses but it is more helpful to study lecture notes and do homework questions before reviewing past papers. When I had uncooperative group members, I would communicate my frustrations with them. I would also check to see if they had completed the work before their deadline. However, sometimes you just can't force people to do their fair share. When I had to do someone else's work, it would be reflected in a signed sheet called a contribution table that was submitted to the TA. They didn't get credit for work they didn't do.
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?
APS106 or Introduction to Python. I was so nervous about this course and was dreading taking it. In the end, I loved it! As someone with zero coding experience before university, I was worried about the difficulty level of the course. However, they teach everything at a great pace and cater to beginners in Python. This is a course some engineering disciplines must take. Others will take APS105. In first year engineering, you don't get to select courses, it is done for you.