Life Science at University of Toronto (St. George)
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 chose U of T because of its research opportunities, and I'm glad I did. Being taught by people who are experts in their fields and who are actively conducting research on the subjects they teach makes a huge difference. It is hard to make friends in the first year, but I found first year foundation seminars to be great courses for meeting people and getting a good introduction to the services available on campus. They're also a great way to meet and connect with professors. Overall, U of T is a huge campus but also has a lot of resources available, so make sure you take advantage of them.
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.
Make sure you prepare well for labs, and take advantage of Chem Club tutoring to help with lab reports and the general problems, they are life savers! The Math Learning Centre is also very helpful, but if you find a TA you like, take note of their name and find them in the schedule. I would also say try and find a few people to study with in your courses. Labs and tutorials are great places to find those people.
What was your favourite university experience?
Probably the first year foundations course ANT199H1. It covered material very different from my other courses and allowed me to meet people in a smaller class setting.
What was your least favourite university experience?
Probably my first Organic Chemistry Lab. I was very nervous and realized later that I shouldn't have been. Chemistry labs are fun, and not as scary as they might seem at first. I also realized my TA was very helpful and learnt to ask questions, so the rest of the labs went much better.
What is the hardest part about your program and what were the steps that you took to overcome any difficulties?
The hardest part I've found has been time-management. Labs take up a lot of time and some courses have a lot of readings. Eventually I realized not all the readings were essential and sometimes it's more worth it to spend time studying with others or working through practice questions than to do every single reading thoroughly. First year chemistry courses are hard, but I found practice questions to be the best way to understand the material. I would also say try to pay attention during lectures and take good notes so you don't have to spend time rewatching lectures or filling in missing notes when it comes to studying.
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?
ANT199H1. It's a first year foundations seminar so the class was very small. I learnt about things I hadn't even realized I was interested in, and got to go on some cool field trips.
Try to have fun. Remember First Year is a completely new experience so don't expect to get everything perfect right away.