Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Co-op at University of Toronto (Scarborough)
Anonymous (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 UTSC because it was close to home and transportation by car usually takes around half an hour. I also liked the fact that the university was one of the smaller universities. This meant that I wouldn't feel claustrophobic or feel overwhelmed from large crowds. I also liked how I could get to all my classes in less than a minute. A disadvantage that comes with a smaller university is the lack of social life and difficulty it is to make friends that you fit in with. Majority of the students were focused on studying, so there were rarely any spirit themed events.
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 wish I could have had a mentor from the program to help me sort out my courses. I ended up having to take summer school courses because I was unaware about the credit requirements for co-op (I wasn't the only one). I wish I knew how difficult it was to get in touch with counselling or staff members. I either had to wait for several days or they would keep redirecting me to other people (it just became a cycle). I wish I also never procrastinated in my first term. Also, please remember that exam questions are not trying to trick you (it's rare). I made the mistake of overthinking every question on my first exam because I was overwhelmed and it did not end well.
What was your favourite university experience?
My best experience was surprisingly physics tutorials. They were the most interactive and chill tutorials (for the most part). I got to bond with a lot of people because we had several hours to work on questions. This was also helpful, since I was learning from a student's perspective (easier to grasp material unless we're all stuck).
What was your least favourite university experience?
My worst experience at university was when a bio lab TA yelled at me in front of the entire class because I had trouble pipetting. It was really frustrating and affected my mental health especially since I was already having a bad week. Not all TAs are like this, but it just shows how important it is to have respectful and encouraging TAs.
What is the hardest part about your program and what were the steps that you took to overcome any difficulties?
The hardest part is the transition from high school. I definitely struggled because in high school classes were mandatory. In uni, I often found myself being behind because there was more freedom since the majority of my lectures were recorded. To overcome this, I made sure to stick to a schedule. I also made sure not to fall behind, because it just became a snowball effect.
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 my physics course (PHYA11 and PHYA22). As I have mentioned before, the environment was more interactive and encouraging. We were able to engage with material in a way that was more effective for students.
A lot of people don't know this at first (because UTSC sucks at informing people) but co-op courses automatically get enrolled in the winter semester (so don't stress).