Life Sciences at University of Toronto (St. George)
Adrian (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.
I chose UofT mainly because it is close to home and it has a good reputation. Listed below are some advantages and disadvantages! I don't regret my choice at all. UofT is a great institution and I have made a ton of friends here. Social life is really not as bad as people say, as long as you actually put an effort towards making friends. If I could tell my pre-university self something, it would be -- to get an iPad and Apple Pencil. After beginning to use an iPad to take notes and study, I did a lot better and my grades went up. It's also very convenient and not very heavy. I mainly use it to add extra notes on the PowerPoint slides during lecture, and then review them when I am studying for midterms/finals.
Great research opportunities
Lots of clubs/extracurriculars available
Many different support services (such as writing centres, math learning centre, Victoria College peer tutoring, etc.)
Situated in Downtown Toronto (lots of entertainment and food places nearby!)
Huge class sizes so it's difficult to get to know your profs
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.
One thing I found to be very important is developing good study habits. In this program, you really have to take school seriously and study effectively in order to be successful. I think it is also important to note that you don't have to study for long periods of time, as long as you study EFFECTIVELY. Obviously, you shouldn't study only a few hours a week, but you don't have to be buried in the textbooks 24/7. It's very important to have a social life and get in some fun when you have time for it in order to maintain a balanced university experience.
What was your favourite university experience?
Honestly, my favourite part about university so far has been the friends I have made during my first year. I established quite a few friends from lectures, mutuals and parties. My favourite part about university is just hanging out with my friends, whether it be going to class together, going out to eat, or going to parties together.
What was your least favourite university experience?
My worst university experience was probably my PHY131 final in the fall semester. They allowed cheat sheets for the midterms/finals and I spent a lot of time making my cheat sheet but I forgot to actually do some of the homework. I showed up to the final with a decked out cheat sheet but I barely even knew which formula to use and got a bunch of questions wrong. On top of that, I had trouble sleeping the night before (because I was trying to fix my horrible sleep schedule) and I only got 2 hours of sleep before a 3 hour final.
What is the hardest part about your program and what were the steps that you took to overcome any difficulties?
Life Sciences at UofT has built up a reputation for being a highly competitive, almost cutthroat, and needlessly challenging program.Despite this, I don't think it's necessarily that cutthroat or anything but it is still fairly difficult and should be taken very seriously. I think for first year Life Sci kids, MAT136 is a pretty difficult course (mainly the second half). Despite doing very well in high school math and MAT135, I wasn't very good at calculus towards the end of MAT136.
Another thing to be mindful of is the fact that your marks will likely drop :( Don't be too sad if your marks drop 5-10% from your high school marks. University is difficult and it takes some time to get used to! Even if you get some bad marks here and there, you can always try your best to salvage them, and it is not the end of the world. In my first midterm wave in first semester, I didn't do that well for two of my midterms and was very sad about them. This was essentially a wake up call for me to change my study habits and after that I did a lot better in both those courses.
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?
Personally, my favourite course would be CHM136 (Organic Chemistry). I enjoyed learning about all the different chemical reactions and reaction mechanisms. I also liked learning from both the profs (Quinlan and Morra) because they were both pretty clear with their explanations in lecture. Also, I liked the lab component of this course since it was individual and you get to do everything by yourself.
I am looking forward to doing some more volunteering in the future! Also, I am looking forward to learning things related to my majors (Physiology and Pharmacology & Toxicology). I am also looking forward to joining some clubs in the upcoming years.
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