Life Science at Queen's University
Neelakshi (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 choosing Queen’s, I went to all of the university open houses and visited the university fair in Toronto which gave me all the information I needed to research and make my decision in choosing Queen's University. Some factors that I considered were location, academics, and campus environment. Personally, the environment was very welcoming and as soon as I entered the campus I felt very comfortable. Kingston is a small town and the community is very safe on campus, off-campus and other areas. The campus is also by the lake making a great study/hang out place. One advantage of this institution is the campus is considered medium-sized, which allows for easy access to all buildings within 5-7 minutes across campus. In addition, there is free bus transportation all over campus and off-campus with your student card and the busses come by very often. However, if you are entering General Sciences, in first-year most of the classes are on West Campus which is a 7-minute bus ride and 20-minute walk. One other advantage is that on-campus there is a grocery store and Drug Smart Pharmacy which is convenient for quick grocery runs and any medical needs such as prescriptions.
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.
Since first-year is general science, this gave me a whole extra year to explore my options and find my strengths in order to decide on my second year major. This program is also very large however, there are so many people to meet with different interests, making the transition a lot easier. One thing I do recommend is taking a lighter weight elective as all of the other courses (Math, Physics, Chemistry, Biology) can be overwhelming in first year. Also, this program has a lot of 6.0 credit courses meaning they continue on to the second semester, with this I was able to easily transition to my second semester making that transition easier as I knew what the courses were like. A mistake I would try to correct is keeping up with all the requirements for each course whether that was reading or practice questions. Taking the steps to complete these parts of the course can be extremely beneficial. Also taking time to review weekly notes allows you to stay on top of your work.
What was your favourite university experience?
One of my best experiences was frosh week. The events were extremely fun, interactive and the traditions are unmatched. In addition, I founded my own club called QuPunjab (Queens Punjabi Student Association) with 2 of my closest friends. The purpose of the club is to spread diversity and inclusivity to the Queen's Community by educating others on Punjabi culture and creating a safe space for students to embrace and spread culture. I really encourage getting involved on campus as it really enhances your experience here at Queen's!
What was your least favourite university experience?
At the beginning, I was very overwhelmed with the course load and being away from home. This was something I struggled with for some time, and if you feel this way it's very normal and is part of the transition. I then realized that many of my other peers were going through the same struggles. Once you overcome this barrier all other aspects fall into place and with peer support you can get through these times. On campus there are a multitude of resources for academic, peer support and for all of your other needs, that are there for you at no cost (If you would like to know some resources feel free to contact me).
What is the hardest part about your program and what were the steps that you took to overcome any difficulties?
Some of the hardest aspects of this program are dealing with the multiple components of each individual course. This includes lectures, labs, tutorial, online quizzes/assessments. Balancing all of these aspects is important as well as keeping some sort of planner whether is weekly, daily or monthly. I personally used a weekly and monthly calendar. Each week I created a schedule of due dates, classes, labs etc. so I was aware of how much time I had to complete different tasks and how to prioritize them. On a side note it is very important to give yourself time to take breaks and do some of the things you love! As you continue on in the year, you come to learn how to manage your time and what works best for you, it may take some time but keep in mind everyone studies and works differently at different paces! Another technique I used when studying is the Pomodoro technique. This is when you study for 25 minutes with no distractions and then take a 5-minute break and do something else (for ex. stretch, walk, fresh air or get water/snack) this method will prevent burn out and over exhaustion. Also, if you enjoy studying in groups focus on actively studying and not passively this will help you retain information. Working amongst people, but individually can also be helpful because if you have any questions you can easily ask them or create a group discussion. Chances are if you have a question they may be thinking the same thing. When studying for exams be sure to do lots of practice questions and look at previous exams to get an idea of what to expect on the exam.
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?
I really enjoyed most of the courses I took, however the ones that stood out the most were biology and chemistry. I found the content very interesting in biology as a lot of it applies to real-life applications. The course code for the first semester is BIO102 and the second semester course code is BIO103. In this case the course is not continuous through both semesters and BIO102 is a prerequisite for BIO103. For chemistry I really enjoyed the lab sessions, often the end result was quite interesting such as making/understanding the chemistry behind blueprints! The lab reports were quite time consuming however, they provide you with a template to make things easier for you. The course code for this course is CHEM112 and this course continues through first and second semester.
So far my experience here at Queen's has been amazing. There are a lot of clubs to join and I'm sure you will find one that fits your interests. Getting involved can really impact your time here at Queen's. The residence is based on a lottery system and there are many options so choose what's best for you. There are many resources to accommodate your needs, if you have any questions or concerns feel free to contact me, I am an Orientation Leader as well and would be happy to help you!
Ps, follow @qupunjab if you're interested in becoming a member of our club!