Health Studies Co-op at University of Waterloo
Melanie (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.
Before going into university, I wish I knew how to study more effectively, due to the significantly heavier course-load in university. The pace in which material is taught is quite different from what is experienced in high school, and it is important to know how to take effective notes. Oftentimes I struggled with the amount of material that was being taught, and fell behind because I did not have effective study strategies. I chose the University of Waterloo due to its world-renowned co-op program. I wasn't too sure what career I wanted to go into in high school, but knew I wanted something in the health care sector. Waterloo offers a good balance between academics and being able to apply what you've learned to the real world setting. Some advantages of coming to the University of Waterloo is the enormous amount of support available for students; especially when applying for co-op jobs and helping students discover their interests. I would say Waterloo does live up to its reputation of being very competitive amongst students, but you'll also find that many people are so supportive of one another.
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 chose the Health Studies Co-operative Program due to its multidisciplinary aspect, in that I take a combination of basic science courses (i.e. biology, chemistry) and social science courses (i.e. sociology, psychology). I found these types of courses were a good mix for me, because I could learn about how to treat someone when they are ill, but more importantly, how to prevent someone from becoming sick in the first place. A lot of people interested in going into healthcare not only need a strong background in the medical sciences, but also need strong communication and interpersonal skills that are taught in the social sciences. I also liked the fact that my program had a co-op option, as I wasn't too sure of what career I wanted to go into. It will allow me to apply what I've learned in classes, explore my interests, and even pay off student loans.
What was your favourite university experience?
My best university experience would have to be orientation week and the first week of classes. I was nervous meeting people in university, but orientation week allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and try new things. I was able to meet new friends during this week, and become more confident when starting classes. I also made many friends with the people I lived with in residence. Another experience I enjoyed in university was my volunteer work at the Centre for Community, Clinical and Applied Research Excellence. I took part in a volunteer program called the UW Well-Fit Program from September to March of my first year. In this program, I worked with cancer patients with personalized exercise programs aimed to reduce the negative side effects associated with cancer treatment. This experience was very special to me, as it was so rewarding and something I learned a lot from.
What was your least favourite university experience?
My worst university experience would have to be the time when the school announced all in-person classes would be cancelled due to COVID-19. I was sad that I could not finish my entire first-year on campus, and that I would have to move out of residence sooner. It was tough saying goodbye to friends and floor-mates.
What is the hardest part about your program and what were the steps that you took to overcome any difficulties?
The hardest part about my program is the amount of work that is required weekly for certain assignments and readings. Taking a combination of science and social sciences, means there is a lot of content to review from lectures, readings, and tutorials. It was hard to balance how much time I spent reviewing lectures from my science courses, and the amount of time that was required to read many chapters of a textbook. To overcome these difficulties, it is important to prioritize in advance how much time you will spend on a certain course. Mapping out a calendar for each subject helps in planning your study strategies.
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 would have to be HLTH 101 - Introduction to Health 1, which is mandatory for all first-year Health Studies students. I really liked the topics covered in this course, and it provided a good overview of future courses that will be required for our degree. My favourite topics in this course are learning about the stress pathway and immunity and infection!
Waterloo is a great school for those who are interested in going into healthcare. The academic and co-op aspect is a unique experience that is invaluable. I would suggest students who are interested in going into healthcare to research early on ways to get involved on campus and being part of things that they are interested in.