Vivian (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 Western over other institutions for its business program. It was my second best choice and my family supported it. An advantage of UWO is the student life on campus. Since the school's located in London, most people meet for the first time moving into residence, and people spend a lot of time together on campus, living away from parents for the first time. A disadvantage would be off campus. Since it's London after all, there won't be as many places to go to as Toronto, and everything is much farther away. For example, the closest bubble tea or Chinese supermarket was a solid 25 min bus ride from my residence. You'll also find that there's a Tims on every corner of campus though. Advice for incoming first years would be to rely on your friends at UWO. Most, if not everyone, is away from parents, from high school peers, and a long way from home. Another piece of advice would be to choose your electives wisely. You can't avoid hard or boring modular courses since your program requires them, but you can with electives. Electives should be there to alleviate your stress, not add to it, so enjoy those couple credits.
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.
I would've wanted to change my electives so badly. I picked a full term business course as one of my electives because of the reviews I read online, thought that it'd prepare me for a second year course and be useful. Before the drop deadline, I dropped it. The course was a big workload considering it was designated an essay course, fast pace, and incredibly interactive with participation marks in a small lecture. I figured that I wasn't willing to put in the same commitment or engagement as others and that it'd be a personal struggle, so I dropped it at the end of November. At the time, I had wasted 0.5 credit on first semester, and had to find a new elective to fill my 0.5 credit on second semester. With the only open options I found, I picked women's studies because of reviews online that it was an easy essay course and people enjoyed it. Women's studies tackles feminism, social justice, and politics. This course is actually structured very straightforward and simple to do well in. But it turns out I was not interested in the content at all, and did progressively worse near the end of the semester. I'm really glad I took some courses this summer because I took electives that I enjoyed learning, which gave me much better grades. An advantage of my program would be that the schedule is not nearly as jam-packed as say anyone in STEM. When you're in STEM it's honestly impossible to "make a good schedule" by picking the right courses, you're just going to have very little free time. As for my program BMOS, there's no labs and hardly any tutorials, so with only lectures you're very free. By planning ahead which classes you want to enroll in, plus a little luck from an early course enrollment date, you can build a schedule that works just for you. A disadvantage of my program would be that I've found course content dry. That could be a personal preference, and at least the courses aren't objectively hard, just hard to motivate myself.
What was your favourite university experience?
My best experience was eating good food together with friends. When we went out to a place for the first couple times or when the cafeteria was serving something good, eating together was particularly enjoyable. Celebrating people's birthdays together was also nice.
What was your least favourite university experience?
My worst experience was sitting through lectures I hated. There are lectures that become interesting because the prof delivers it well. There are lectures that are not as interesting but still very productive. But the opposite is also true, you may find some lectures dry or unproductive, since everyone has different likes and dislikes. It is up to you how to power through each of your courses. I just hope I can minimize the number of unfavourable experiences I have with courses by choosing the right ones and establishing suitable learning and studying methods depending on how I connect better with the course. Your performance or learning experience does not have to match your peers.
What is the hardest part about your program and what were the steps that you took to overcome any difficulties?
Many courses can become difficult when you find the course content dry. I think people would agree that Calculus 1000 was tough though. Calculus really is something you have to be on track with, practising every new concept with all the homework. It can be hard to catch up when you're behind. It'll start off with Grade 12 review but then you'll learn new stuff, and you'll only do well with the new concepts once you've established a solid foundation in your Grade 12 stuff. So try harder in the beginning or else you'll be picking up your slack after a poor midterm. Helpful study habits can depend on the person. Many people find studying in the dorm impossible, whether it be the noise of floormates or the distraction of your bed, so they find a study spot in the Weldon library or Social Science Centre. Anywhere on campus you can sit at a table quietly can be considered a study spot. As for lectures, aside from maths which are handwritten, all my other lectures it was best to bring a laptop. All those folders, binders, and stationary which were considered useful back in high school, I now found absolutely useless in university. On your laptop, how you take notes is your choice. I used to take notes on Microsoft Word until I found OneNote more comfortable. As for midterm and final exam seasons, you'll get the hang of it as you go. Your exam schedule will sometimes be inconvenient, make the best with what time you have.
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 course was either computer science CS1032 or bioanthropology & archaeology Anthro1026. I took both this summer and I found it refreshing to learn interesting things outside of my program. Picking the right electives really help relieve stress from the workload of your modular courses/program-specific courses. Choosing your electives should always be about picking something that you may find enjoyable, it'll have a positive impact on your grades and your sanity. You will realize that an easy bird course will not be so easy if it is boring to you, and there will be no incentive for you to work harder since your program does not require it. So have fun with electives, as there is so much offered outside your program, and having fun will be a natural motivator for success.