Luke (Year 2)
What made you choose this institution over all others? Did the university exceed your expectations?
I chose to go to Laurier because it's the only school in Ontario that presents Music Therapy as a major, which is what I wanted to stream into in 3rd year after 2 years of the core comprehensive music program. In addition, my brother also attends Laurier, so while studying in Waterloo, I would still have some form of family connection while I was away from home. I would say that Laurier generally met all my expectations for what a classically focused music program should be.
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.
A mistake I made going into first year was expecting to still be the best at what I do, which is music. For most of high school I was top of the class, so at Laurier I wasn't ready for the reality that EVERYONE there would've been the top of their respective classes as well. It led to a very negative state of mind and as the year progressed, my excitement for studying music quickly diminished.
Briefly describe the academic rigour of your program (in terms of competitiveness, courses, professors, etc.)
For the most part, everyday I had between 1-3 music courses which include: technical skills, theory, history, ensemble, private lessons, masterclass, etc. In addition, I took both introductory psychology courses (PS101 and PS102) which would take place twice per week. There was about 1-2 hours of reading assigned pretty much everyday, on top of individual practice on my instrument, time spent learning new solo repertoire, ensemble rehearsals, and sectional rehearsals. It often seemed as if profs in the music faculty didn't communicate amongst each other as major assignments, tests or performances from different courses would often end up being due on the same day.
Describe the social life at your campus based on your own experiences (making friends, clubs + extracurriculars, party culture etc.)
At Laurier, there is plenty of opportunity to have an active social life. In residence pretty much every night one of the wings of the floors was partying or drinking. If you want to engage in that lifestyle, there is definitely opportunity for it. On the weekends it becomes exponentially more lively as quiet hours are moved to 1 am so the whole building pretty often is shaking. Outside of partying, there's a club fair at the beginning of Fall term where every club assembles a stand and pitches their club on the soccer field. Lots of variety from religious groups, to dance, KPOP, anything really.
What are some of the best and worst parts of your university experience so far?
I'd say the best part at Laurier was the friendships I made on my floor in residence. Because you're stuck together with 19 other people for the whole year, you can form close bonds with people that you may not have otherwise ever met. I was lucky to be in a residence learning community (RLC) which means that everyone fits into a specific interest, ours being music. Everyone on the floor could sing or play an instrument and a good number were also in the music program, so if I had a question about the reading or theory homework, I had someone to ask for help. The worst part would be the mental health and physical injury issues I sustained throughout the year. As a result of a diminishing view on music, and increasing confusion about my future, my mental health deteriorated, and I often felt that there wasn't enough support for mental illness on campus. I also fractured my ankle in March and dislocated my shoulder in January which prevented me from playing sports, which ended up becoming one of my outlets when I wanted to get away from the craziness of academic studies.
List three effective study techniques and/or habits:
Profs that are willing to invest into me as a student. My private instructor became sort of my therapist, and she gave me a safe place to air out my concerns without judgment.
A persistent mentality. I really hate being bad at something that I enjoy, and throughout the fall term I was able to find the drive within me to work hard and improve my ability in my instrument
Peers! Whereas UofT music is notorious for being super competitive and a very cutthroat atmosphere, Laurier's music community is very relaxed, and many people truly want to see you succeed.
List three pieces of advice for first-year students:
Get your work ethic in check before coming. There can be a lot of free time in between classes that you could either spend watching YouTube and playing video games, or reading your textbook. University can feel merciless in the pace at which profs go through content, so falling behind can be super detrimental to your time in uni.
Don't be afraid to ask for help. For the most part, your profs want to see you succeed. They want to help you if you have any questions. So if you're confused about something, ASK! I saw people on my floor dying because they didn't know how to approach an assignment, but they refused to email their profs for clarification or help. That's the worst thing you could do.
It's okay not to enjoy your program. After a mediocre fall term and a terrible winter term I decided to transfer schools to Tyndale University in Toronto. If you don't enjoy your program, don't waste your tuition money and time studying something you hate. I'm happy that I'm transferring after my first year, because the deeper I got into music at Laurier the more trapped I would feel. Everyone will go through post secondary at their own pace, so don't feel pressured to follow everyone else and stay in a 4 year program and then realize afterwards that you don't want to pursue that field.