Savanna (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.
My institution was my first pick because of its course description and even the small assignment I was given as a test prior to my enrolment. When I got there I learned that even if you are afraid that you’re alone in your program, everyone is working towards the same goal. The difference between high school and University/College is that now you have a whole program full of people that can help you and vice versa. As well, do not be alarmed to see people that are not your age. People come from all sorts of backgrounds and lifetimes to achieve the same goal you are. These people have lived for longer than you and you’d be shocked to hear the tales that they carry with them. A tip about those tales: listen to them! They might help you in the future.
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.
Thinking a program was less work or easier because the subjects that surround this program were easy in high school is a big mistake. Learning to pace yourself in your work is extremely important otherwise you’ll be overwhelmed very quickly. Take criticism but do not take it personally; these professors and TAs are there to help you improve your work. Your peers are yet another powerful tool to use to better your work, push yourself to ask for their advice.
What was your favourite university experience?
It was a time where we had an assignment due and our profs gave us constant feedback on our work so that it could be the best possible, but I still wasn’t happy with the work I had produced so I scrapped the entire project and started again. This time, my prof said it was my best work yet. Moral of the story, it’s okay to start over even if you have gotten pretty far. If your gut is telling you to change something for the better, go for it.
What was your least favourite university experience?
When quarantine started our profs put a larger workload onto us thinking since we had more time we could do more work but I ended up skipping meals, not meeting deadlines, and having a complete mental breakdown that was so bad I had to send my department head a very emotional email. (That was really embarrassing if I read it now). Turns out the rest of my program had the same idea and our profs adjusted our workload appropriately. If something isn’t right, please email your profs, TAs or department head(s).
What is the hardest part about your program and what were the steps that you took to overcome any difficulties?
Receiving marks that were not as high as they were in high school really bummed me out. I remember in one of my subjects, I ended up getting a failing grade even though I worked incredibly hard on it. Instead of accepting the mark, I asked my prof if I could redo the assignment and luckily she agreed. I ended up with a much higher grade this time so it worked out in the end. With my program, working hard will not cut it. Taking advice and making changes is really important. I was incredibly stubborn and did not want to change my design because I liked it, but sometimes it isn’t about what you like.
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?
My favourite course was Drawing (GRA180). We did nothing to do with drawing, and it was actually how to retain information and present it in a way that others can understand it, aka sketch noting. Getting used to this form of giving information was very difficult but very rewarding. It was a great skill to learn and I will be using it a lot in the future.
A huge tip for going into first year: if you do not like your program PLEASE do not stay there. You are only wasting your time and energy. Please do what you want to do, otherwise your years of university AND your working years will only make you miserable.