Chengye (Graduate Studies)
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.
That class sizes make a difference! UofT first year life sciences have huge classes with 1000 students, and uncomfortable chairs (Con Hall), which might not be a good learning environment for you if you're easily distracted, or prefer more opportunities to engage with the professor! In this case, perhaps choose the night-class instead since it's relatively smaller.
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 knew that it's more important to choose programs based on the departments and their values rather than the program/name itself (some professors have cross-appointments too), because you're going to be spending several years attending the courses offered and (hopefully) the events organized by the student union of that department! For example, some departments, like physiology, have a reputation of being more research-oriented, which is great for someone who would like go into research. And check out the faculty of the department and their research topics as well!
What was your favourite university experience?
Going to free food events around campus!
What was your least favourite university experience?
Pulling all-nighters (still hate them...).
What is the hardest part about your program and what were the steps that you took to overcome any difficulties?
The hardest part would be dealing (mental health) issues in my personal life which lead to me not being able to focus in class/effectively manage my time. Even now as a grad student it sometimes feel like I'm always busy, which is sometimes good if you're the type of person that relish that environment. I would say to don't be too hard on yourself, take a break sometimes, and put off some projects until later if it doesn't have to be done immediately.
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 might be CHM151Y, I took this instead of its counterpart because I was (and still am) interested in chemistry and wanted to expand my options program-wise. I found the professors were helpful, and the smaller (about 50 people) class-size felt more like a community.
I would highly recommend applying to research opportunities, whether it be ROP (Research Opportunity Program), REP (Research Excursion Program), or work-study, and don't be discouraged if you don't get accepted. Apply to as many as you're interested in, it only takes one! Also, take up some extracurricular activities, whether it be sports, volunteering; there are all kinds of clubs/programs on campus (just search for them)! Lastly, don't be too stressed out about things, like program selection, it all works out in the end!