Mechanical Engineering at University of Toronto (St. George)
Natalia (Year 2)
What made you choose this institution over all others? Did the university exceed your expectations?
UofT has an incredible reputation and met all the expectations I had set for the institute. I picked it primarily for their well recognized Applied Science Faculty and program variety. But the school as a whole made me feel welcome and I am truly proud to be a small part of such a wonderful university.
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.
Treat every exam like it's the only one that matters. If you really set your focus you can achieve miraculous deeds. For exam season in the fall semester. My roommate and I studied night and day for our first exam (also perceived to be the most difficult) and we got outstanding results that I wasn't even expecting. Though... the rest of my courses didn't go as planned since we'd spent all our time on that one course. Long story short, it is important to really spend the time to study hard because I promise everyone is capable of that amazing GPA, but also know how to delegate your limited time so that all your tasks get attention. Sometimes certain assignments are going to need to be missed because there is simply too much and that is okay, but make the tasks that you are able to complete the best work you could have ever accomplished.
Briefly describe the academic rigour of your program (in terms of competitiveness, courses, professors, etc.)
Any program within the Faculty of Applied Science is extremely demanding. The course material is advanced and takes a lot of commitment to find academic success. My schedule this past year was packed Monday to Friday, 9:00-5:00 with class. In addition to this mandatory time commitment, there were tens of hours to be spent studying and completing assignments and projects. I needed to put a lot of extra effort in to ensure I was understanding material. My professors were excellent and all from a wide variety of backgrounds.
Describe the social life at your campus based on your own experiences (making friends, clubs + extracurriculars, party culture etc.)
Although most students are constantly hitting the books in the library, somehow the Engineering student body manages to be the life of the party. There are hundreds of clubs to be a part of and so many events happening daily on campus, it is impossible not to participate in campus culture even if you're a commuter. From fitness, to literature, to robots to even vegetables there's a club or some organization that welcomes anyone to join. There are university run programs as well that offer career guidance or help with course selections, deciding your major. So many mentorship opportunities. And every Friday there are always folks hanging out at the student bar looking for a good time. Just a wonderful group of people who are so welcoming and supportive.
What are some of the best and worst parts of your university experience so far?
There has not been even a bad experience to tell. I loved every moment of my first year. Of course there were stressors and moments of absolute confusion as to why I was putting myself through this experience. But without those lows I would never have found the means to experience the highs. And wow were there wonderful things to appreciate from UofT. The campus is beautiful and its location could not be more perfect, right downtown. All the social events like Frosh Week and sports games and even mini study sessions were great ways to make lasting memories. I adored getting to know the other students in my residence as well. Learning about different cultures and everyone's different paths that got us all to the same spot.
List three effective study techniques and/or habits:
Wait to buy your textbooks. Often there are used sales or even online PDFs that upper years can help you out with.
Go to the library. Seriously. You aren't going to be productive studying while your roommate has the football team over. Go to a library right after class even if it's only for an hour or two and go home after with a bit of an accomplished feeling and join the pep rally. (Also switch up your study spots. Find a few that work and rotate through them [I love Knox college library, small but a little hidden).
Make a friend in your program so you have someone to keep you motivated and remind you of both your academic/life goals and even upcoming assignments.
List three pieces of advice for first-year students:
Don't be nervous to meet new people because everyone is in the same boat.
Go out and try that new thing you are too worried about doing because (not to sound harsh) no one else is actually gonna care. Do what feels right for you and forget about the judgement because most of it might be in your head anyways.
Study hard, and I mean very hard. But also know your limits and know that it is completely natural and acceptable to take breaks and let loose. Balance is key.
Do what you have a passion for. And even if you don't know yet, try little bits of a lot. Eventually something will stick and it'll be something you'd never expected.