Immunology and Neuroscience at University of Toronto (St. George)
Weyman (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.
Being a part of UofT, I recognize the prestige that comes from that name and its influence on student decision. However, another big part of this institution is it's notoriety for its difficult classes and GPA killing nature. Some advice I'd have for incoming first-years is that rumours will always just be rumours and while they may be based on some merit, overall they are grossly exaggerated.
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.
LifeSci is among the largest faculties in UofT and as a result of this, class sizes are quite large. It is often hard to familiarize yourself with a professor the same way one would have in high-school. I highly recommend visiting office hours to clarify any questions you may have as well as to simply introduce yourself to said professor - this can be used as a gateway to other opportunities like research positions. (something that I admittedly should've taken more advantage of).
What was your best experience at university?
University provides you with a lot of freedom and liberty with regards to how you manage your time. I believe this experience to be very valuable and allows one to learn how to partition their time efficiently. This also allows students to explore other avenues without feeling the conventional schedule constraints that students have experienced up to this point.
What was your least favourite experience at university?
Given that course selection is much like a race for enrolment, oftentimes one might find that their planned time slot has been filled before they can even enroll. I personally experienced this in the first semester and as a result, had a horrible schedule in which I had early morning classes with large breaks that would carry me into night classes. While it may sound nice to have a lot of breaks on paper, it was a horrible experience in practice and forces you to stay on campus much longer than one would like. I recommend all incoming students try their best to block their schedules accordingly.
What is the hardest part about your program and what were the steps that you took to overcome these hardships?
Online forums like reddit may list potential "bird courses" when planning your schedule but don't be fooled. There is no "bird course" in the literal sense that you can coast by and get an easy 4.0. All courses require effort and if you choose a bird course for a subject you're not interested in, you may find yourself investing more effort into it than even your core classes and still have it be your lowest mark. (An excerpt from first semester) Choose classes that you have a personal interest in and attend all the lectures. Make notes as much as you can and try not to rely on recordings (chances are you won't rewatch them)
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 elective was NFS284. This was a nutrition class with basic science that ties in closely with my program. It has practical applications to real life and is relatively easy and interesting. Overall, a pleasant experience for a LifeSci student.
Get involved - don't be discouraged by first year. Try to join clubs. It'll enable you to meet and socialize with others as well as pad up your resume.