Vicky (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.
Before coming to UofT, I wish I had better prepared myself for being in a foreign environment and setting. Highschool and university are vastly different. Personally, I had a hard time trying to adapt to a new environment but mentally preparing myself by doing research beforehand would have certainly eased the transition. For the most part, I came to UofT to gain access to the abundance of resources and facilities it offers to support the academic learning of its students. Also, as a business student, networking and expanding personal connections are extremely important - UofT is located at the heart of Toronto which puts you in close proximity with huge firms and a number of career opportunities. Since Rotman Commerce has a widespread reputation for being a tough program, I also wanted to challenge myself and build a stable foundation for post-graduation. However, UofT is a commuter school so it will put you in a difficult position to make friends since many students leave the campus after their classes end. But if you put in the effort to talk to people, you will find a solid group of friends that you can rely on during the school year.
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.
Rotman Commerce, as well as UofT as a whole, has many diverse events and clubs that are catered toward specific interests and academic pursuits. I wish I knew the importance of partaking in events and joining clubs during the first year. Although I personally did not join and attend many extracurriculars in the first year and very much regret now, I know for a fact that there are numerous positive takeaways that will definitely heighten your university experience (making long-lasting connections, building valuable experience, exploring your occupational interests, etc). In terms of social life, being in the Rotman Commerce program poses an advantage since it is a very tight-knit community. Everyone I have met in this program has been friendly and approachable that in part greatly helped me with finding a sense of belonging on the large campus. As with many programs at UofT, Rotman Commerce is an academically rigorous program that you need to put in the hard work to stay in, but if you work hard, it will pay off.
What was your favourite university experience?
My best university experience is meeting with friends during breaks or after class. Because UofT is downtown, students are not limited to the spaces provided by the institution. You can explore the various cafes and libraries that are near the campus. I valued this time as I got to know friends on a personal level outside of an academic environment and also engage in activities apart from our studies. This helped put my mind away from studying and was a stress-relieving mechanism I used to cope with school-related stress.
What was your least favourite university experience?
My worst university experience so far are during midterm and exam seasons. These were stressful periods of time I had to dedicate towards going through multiple notes, doing practice questions, making sure I memorized formulas, etc. to ensure I was comfortable with the content and was prepared for any questions that were going to be thrown at me. Especially during my first midterm at UofT, I did not know what to expect and was meticulous about studying.
What is the hardest part about your program and what were the steps that you took to overcome any difficulties?
Along with the competitive nature of the program, students have to meet certain admission requirements during the first year to secure a place in Rotman Commerce in the second year. I was someone that struggled to meet requirements so I had to alter my studying habits to maximize studying benefits but also use time efficiently since I was so accustomed to my methods of studying in high school. This included committing more of my time in studying than in highschool and realizing that it is almost impossible to be thorough and on top of your work for every class. Completing all my readings has been a major challenge for me since I tend to not retain a large portion of the material so it was important for me to identify where to skim and where to actually read to pick up the most important information. In terms of uncooperative group work, communication is always essential to understand your group members and to resolve conflicts.
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 at UofT so far is ‘Media Worlds and East Asia’ (EAS197). I took this course as an elective and really enjoyed it due to its focus on East Asian studies which I take a particular interest in and have pre-existing knowledge of. The course connects media producers to their respective audiences and focuses on the importance of media in understanding history and culture in East Asian society. A large aspect of why I liked this course is because it is a seminar - a classroom setup of a small number of students similar to classes in highschool. This increased engagement between the professor and students but also provided a learning experience outside of the typical confined lectures.
Studying and getting good grades is important but a healthy mental state is even more important. Find a balance and don’t internalize your stress - try to find time outside of your studies and learn to mitigate it. Whether it be talking to a friend or family member, seeking help from available campus resources, or exercising, there are many ways to prevent the accumulation of stress from school. Also, don’t be afraid to talk to people. Developing connections in university will definitely make your university experience much better and worthwhile!