Life Sciences at University of Toronto (St. George)
Samantha (Year 2)
What made you choose this institution over all others? Did the university exceed your expectations?
As a life science student, research opportunities are very important to your experience! Studying in downtown allows me to access UHN - the largest health research organization in North America and ranks first in Canada for total research funding. On top of the above opportunities, UofT provides us with Work-Study, Research Programs and On-/Off- campus positions that allow us to gain knowledge, practical skills and paid work.
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 regret from first year was that I did not use my resources to its best! For example, MLC (Math Learning Centre) provides free math peer tutoring, UC (University College) provides free essay editing, several free on-campus events (resume writing, mental health sessions etc) and many more that I could have taken advantage of!
Briefly describe the academic rigour of your program (in terms of competitiveness, courses, professors, etc.)
Talk to upper years, check RateMyProfs or ask on Reddit for some advice on courses, grading, TAs or professors. DO NOT take it too seriously as everyone has different experiences!
Here are some of my general rating of my experience (ask me for specifics):
Professors: 8/10 I loved most of them - teaching styles, pace and passion
TAs: 9.5/10 Great experience with grading and approachability
Courses: 9/10 Loved all my first year classes! Interesting and not too hard
Describe the social life at your campus based on your own experiences (making friends, clubs + extracurriculars, party culture etc.)
Residence: You make so many floor-mates! I did not have a roommate but my house (Landsberg-Lewis) was very friendly. I recommend you to join house-/res- wide activities!
Clubs + Extracurriculars: I am part of GSGGB (Global Society For Genetics and Genome Biology), CUBE (Club for Undergraduate Biomedical Engineering), UTSB (University of Toronto Sports Business), IAAM (It's All About Math) and Math Department's Girls in STEM on campus. I meet so many like-minded peers from different disciplines and they are so brilliant - they give the best advice on courses and profs! If you live on res (or not), play on your intramurals team! I was on the UC Women's and Coed Div 1 Volleyball teams and made so many friends (people not in my year and college, some even in their masters program!). 10/10 GO TO DROP-IN!! FREE AND YOU MEET SO MANY PEOPLE. Living on res allows you to attend more games because some of them are at night (9-10pm).
Party: I go to frat parties with my friends every Friday (when they host). They are mostly in the beginning of the school year and less frequent throughout but ask your friends if they know anything going on! STAY SAFE AND HAVE FUN!
Courses: Join study groups or form your own from tutorials! You sit next to new people every lecture, so make sure you save their contacts if you want to keep in touch!
What are some of the best and worst parts of your university experience so far?
Intramurals! Represent your college/faculty and play your favourite sports! I was on the UC Women's and Coed Div 1 Volleyball teams and made so many friends (people not in my year and college, some even in their masters program!). I even unexpectedly won an athletic award with my participation.
Be involved (on/off campus)! Join clubs and teams that you enjoy! Explore your interests as a general member or become an exec. I am part of GSGGB (Global Society For Genetics and Genome Biology), CUBE (Club for Undergraduate Biomedical Engineering), UTSB (University of Toronto Sports Business), IAAM (It's All About Math) and Math Department's Girls in STEM on campus. I meet so many like-minded peers from different disciplines and they are so brilliant - they give the best advice on courses and profs!
Explore your interests! Other than the typical life sci courses, I find myself indulged in computer science, statistics, geology, urban cities, east asian studies and many other diverse disciplines!
School is tough, you have to work for your grade. It is not easy - you cannot maintain high 90s for all courses, study the night before your test, or procrastinate. You must have realistic expectations and take your time to develop your study habits!
List three effective study techniques and/or habits:
**Review right after class, not just before an assessment!!
Regular Note-taking, then posting my notes on the wall (not sure why but I love using this method for bio, it allows me to look at everything in a glance!!)
List three pieces of advice for first-year students:
TALK TO UPPER YEARS! They have been through it all - course selection, residence, buying textbooks, resources and many more. You might even find yourself some life hacks and free advice! Hit me up for the best study spots on campus, best food trucks and study tips haha :)
MAKE GOOD USE OF YOUR RESOURCES! Campus always has free events, clubs have free seminars, ASSU or your college provides free editing/tutoring sessions and there's sooo many more. Let me know if you want to learn more on how to find and take advantage of these amazing events!
DO NOT BE SCARED WHEN YOU MAKE MISTAKES! It is your first year in university, your professors' teaching might not fit your learning the best. It is okay to make mistakes and let's say, get a 70 on a test. It is normal, it is very rare to get your high school grades all over again! So be open-minded, understand that this is new to you and people are struggling just like you! BE REALISTIC WITH YOUR EXPECTATIONS! You can always reach out for help from academic advisors, upper years, TAs, professors and learn from your lesson. Do not stress too much and make sure you have a balance in your life.
Buy second-hand textbooks from your upper years! UofT bookstores are overpriced sometimes :(