Physical and Chemical Sciences at University of Toronto (St. George)
Sumaiya (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 wish I actually knew how to efficiently and effectively study. From highschool, the concept of getting good grades was something obviously everyone strived for but getting 90s was stupidly easy (now that I look back). I think building healthy studying habits before coming to Uoft would have made my transition from highschool to university much easier. The disadvantages of UTSG is that there are so many people it's somewhat hard to find friends and connect with people in clubs. I highly recommend joining university affiliated facebook groups and joining first-year course group chats on messenger.
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.
The concept of PoSt was really unclear as a first year. At UofT, everyone enters a ~general first year even if you believe you're in a specialized program (ex. computer science). With your grades from first year, you can officially APPLY to a program for second year and only then do you have the chance to actually be in the program you wanna be in. I advise for future UTSG students to check out the sidneysmithcommons website for info about program requirements and all the different types of programs that the university offers. Also talk to your TAs, professors, and faculty members in the field you're interested in to get an idea of what to expect in upper years.
What was your favourite university experience?
Making friends that I could immediately connect to, as well as doing chem labs!
What was your least favourite university experience?
Midterm and exam season.
What is the hardest part about your program and what were the steps that you took to overcome any difficulties?
Midterms and final exams are extremely content-heavy. In highschool we have biweekly tests which weren't really cumulative so they were easy to study for. At uni, midterms cover about ~2 months of content and final exams are usually cumulative so there's a LOT you need to remember from the beginning to the end of term. I recommend active recall and spaced repetition as these are really effective studying habits, as well as to avoid cramming. A common thing that professors recommend is for every hour of lecture/lab, spend 2-3 hours a week studying. So if a student has 15 hours of lectures/week, then studying and watching lectures should take up about 45hrs/week. Time management is also really important!
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?
CHM136 (Intro to Organic Chemistry) was really fun with Prof. Quinlan and Prof. Morra.