Mental Health Co-op at University of Toronto (Scarborough)
Faith (Year 4)
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 actually didn’t initially choose UTSC. I went to Western in 1st year and transferred because of the program. The professors in the Psychology department are amazing (or well, most of them are). I will say though, UTSC’s social life is kinda...meh
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.
Since I switched to this program, I made sure I knew what I was doing before applying. One advantage of this degree is that there are a lot of interesting courses that ONLY Mental Health Specialists can take (ex., Neuropsychology Lab, Psychotherapy). The disadvantage is that as a specialist, a lot of the courses you might want to take you wouldn’t be able too (ex., Other Psychology labs).
What was your favourite university experience?
My first co-op position was my favourite. I worked as a Research Intern at TD for 4 months. Yes, TD Bank has psychologists conducting research that is, most definitely, psychology related. There are a lot more options for careers with psychology than you’d think and this position really opened me up to it. I learned a lot of technical and transferable skills that’ll be useful for any position I’ll take in the future!
What was your least favourite university experience?
To be frank, UTSC does not have much of a student life. It was hard for me to find friends (even harder since I transferred) but, now I’ve got a close circle of people in my program who are GREAT.
What is the hardest part about your program and what were the steps that you took to overcome any difficulties?
The exams for courses fall under two categories: pure memorization, and application. Figuring out which classes fell under which category is important to know how best to study. Though some classes are obvious, not all of them are so it took a while to figure that out. Almost every professor provides at least a few practice questions that usually give some indication. Studying with friends, teaching others concepts, and comparing notes were all methods I used to study!
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?
For me, PSYC02 with Professor Cooper was my favourite course. Professor Coopers is an amazing prof, and he does a really good job of simplifying concepts so they’re easy to comprehend.
Cognitive Neuroscience/Cognitive Psychology (PSYB55 and PSYB65 with Professor D’Souza are BOTH great courses! D’Souza’s exams are tricky (application-based), but if you study properly you’ll be fine! Any course with Professor Zakzanis and Professor Cooper will also be good courses because both of them are great profs. I find more so than course content, it’s the professor’s teaching style that makes or breaks a course.
Take advantage of office hours! I can NOT stress this enough! Make sure your professors know you! They’re willing to help, want to help AND getting to know the right profs can be immensely helpful for your future. They can get you in their labs or provide references for grad school which, as a psychology student, you probably would be going to. Everyone is a connection and you need to USE them.
As a Mental Health Specialist, ask Ainsley or Hanan (Psychology Department coordinators) about the bridging program with the Masters of Social Work!
If you’re doing co-op, keep your options open. I know you’d probably want to work at CAMH or something along those lines but there are so many opportunities OUTSIDE of the usual medical route, even for Mental Health Specialists! I did my first co-op position at TD and that was a blast!
If anything I’ve said sparks any interest, or questions, feel free to reach out! Start making those connections now!