Human Biology & Immunology at University of Toronto (Scarborough)
Jinny (Year 3)
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.
I wish I knew the importance and benefit of going to office-hours to ask questions and getting to know the professors. In first-year, I did not attend class in person that often and reserved to watching online lectures for the most part. I did not take advantage of meeting my professors and making good connections that can later help me in finding research or just increasing my knowledge of the topics that I am studying. Without visiting my professors, I did not find value and purpose in my course materials which made me dread school. It was not until second-year that I began to visit my professors which made me see how I can make my course material interesting.
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 understood all of the pre-requisites that I am required to take in my first and second year. Some of the courses that I am required to take, like BIOB50 and BIOB51, are courses that seem to have little resemblance and contribution to the degree that I want to earn. These courses amongst some others are courses that I view as taking up time slots that I can be using to take another course that I am more interested in. This is especially true when you compare the UTSC Immunology program to the one at UTSG - UTSG students are required to take pre-requisites that are much more focused on their interests and contributes a lot to research skills as well.
What was your favourite university experience?
Meeting a large group of friends that share the same interests as I do.
What was your least favourite university experience?
My worst university experience was the fact that there are little to no out-of-school social events at UTSC such as parties, large get-togethers, etc. Since UTSC is a commuter school, there aren't a lot of people that actually stay on campus for a long period of time - most students take the bus to and from school while many others have to drive home at specific times to beat the traffic since they stay with family members. If you have envisioned your university life where you get to be studious on weekdays and go and party on Friday night, you'll probably have to look downtown for those types of events rather than around school.
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 two majors is that there is constantly so much to do all the time. The courses that you have to take for these programs are demanding and challenging and having a good schedule to make sure that you allocate your time properly is of utmost importance. You can't play catch-up with the courses that the program requires you to take - if you are one week behind on your content, then you will continue to be behind for the rest of the semester. To overcome these difficulties, I make sure that I always write down a to-do list for the day and complete it by the end of the day before I go to bed. Having friends who also share your interests, sense of responsibility and accountability also helps you to keep on track.
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 courses so far would be either BIOB34 or BIOC13, largely due to the fact that they are taught by the same professor Dr. Jason Brown. Instead of getting you to memorize useless information or read the textbook before the exam, the material that Dr. Brown lectures on is applicable to all aspects of daily life as well as biology. He will provide simple concepts with amazing examples and explanations that make information retention and studying effortless. He is also approachable and easy to speak to, welcoming any students into his office and embracing any sort of questions whether lecture related or not. Although his exams are thinking based and can be quite tough for some, I highly recommend any course that he teaches!
I do not think co-op for bio sci is all that worth it - most of the opportunities that the school provides you are the ones that you can easily achieve on your own without paying thousands of more dollars. Finding research amongst professors are easier than most people think. The most important thing is to be present during the lectures that your professor is holding and ask questions during office hours so that the professor can get to know you out of the hundreds of students that they teach. The more they know you, the easier it is for them to evaluate whether or not you are a suitable candidate for their research if you choose to ask them for it.