Risika (Year 2)
What made you choose this institution over all others? Did the university exceed your expectations?
I chose U of Ottawa because of their criminology program and its location. Criminology at UOttawa goes deeper and more analytic than any of the other schools I was looking at. They also use it as a core to branch off and highly recommend connecting criminology to related minors like psychology, sociology, human conflict studies, etc... you get to be more specific in what you want to learn. Additionally, Ottawa is a great place to have a criminology/ law degree as it is the capital of the country and you get easier access to government jobs. I also didn't want to go to school in the middle of nowhere but didn't want to stay home so the fact that Ottawa is still a thriving city makes your out of school life much more interesting :)
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.
I think I just wished I did more research into residence, I chose an upper-year building because it had more amenities (own bathroom) but because of that, I think I sacrificed a lot more of my social life, something I would have gained if I was in a traditional residence.
Briefly describe the academic rigour of your program (in terms of competitiveness, courses, professors, etc.)
Everything depends on the professor, grading for my classes has never been the same. Some like readings and power points, while some like essays and lectures, it's all about finding out what kind of expectations your prof has for you and what's the best way to study for each class so you are not overextending yourself. As long as you keep organized and actively participate in your classes, you won't be at a disadvantage.
Describe the social life at your campus based on your own experiences (making friends, clubs + extracurriculars, party culture etc.)
I think frosh week really helped me with making friends, but other than that meeting people in classes and just expanding the people you know by meeting your friend's friends, etc. There are lots to do in downtown Ottawa so you will never be bored and there is so much to explore, all students can get UPasses for the trains which makes it that much easier. Res parties happen a lot on the weekend but there isn't as much as other schools because we have access to clubs in Quebec which aren't too far out of the way.
What are some of the best and worst parts of your university experience so far?
Exploring the city of Ottawa has been fun, I really like my program which helps a lot with motivation. Freedom has been such a great blessing, I really learned a lot about myself, and it makes making memories a lot easier. The only cons are that UOttawa is far from my hometown (Markham in the GTA) so it was harder for me to see my family as often as I would have liked. And Ottawa is a little bit colder than the GTA, the winters are a little harsher than in the GTA so it took a little getting used to, but UOttawa has the tunnels which means we don't have to spend as much time outside once we reach campus. The only bad thing about first year is probably caferteria food, if you can get a reduced meal plan I would because the food isn't that great.
List three effective study techniques and/or habits:
Getting an agenda/ marking all your due dates and setting a reminder on your phone
Finding a good and quiet study spot, somewhere you are not easily distracted but still doesn't bore you so much that you are uneducated
Finding the method that helps you understand the most information, mine was writing and rewriting notes and then summarizing notes, also making cue cards, but it's different for every person. (ALSO IF YOU'RE TYPING NOTES ON A LAPTOP, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND MICROSOFT ONE NOTE, you can get it on both mac and windows and it organizes your notes really simply so you can access them lecture by lecture, AND it's FREE)
List advice for first-year students:
Get involved in clubs
Find a good study spot for you!
Meet and befriend upperclassmen, they're good for advice and notes
Make sure that your email notifications are on for whatever class hub your school uses (Ottawa uses Brightspace)
Get tide pods for your laundry, they last longer and you don't have to hassle with carrying down the whole bottle of laundry detergent to the machines
Keep food/snacks in your room
Get shower shoes
Don't sign up for too many 8AM classes, especially if you're not a morning person
Always carry your chargers with you and make sure you find the seats near outlets
Talk to your profs and take advantage of office hours
Plan out your weeks so you can make sure you're balancing your time, making time to study is important but don't forget to live your life, make sure you have time to hang out with your friends :)
As scary and anxious as first year can seem, it is also a whole lot of fun, make sure you're always keeping the door open for opportunities and constantly network! get your name out there! Look into the student association for your program, see what kind of events and things they have and see how you can get involved. Look forward to having a good time :)