Sabina (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 initially chose to attend Rotman Commerce due to the prestige of the program as I knew I wanted to attend one of the top ranked business programs in Canada. The choice for me was between Rotman and Ivey at Western, and one large determining factor in not selecting Ivey was because I was nervous about not being able to maintain the grades to be accepted into the program after the first two years, even though I did have AEO. However, what I did not know before entering Rotman is that there is a slightly similar procedure that takes place at UofT. In your first year you are considered an Arts & Science student (although you will take a few Rotman courses) and you must achieve a minimum grade in a required set of courses in order to continue in the program in second year. Although the requirements are different between the schools, this is still something to be cognizant of in your selection process as it's something I wish I had known as it certainly increased my stress levels in first year. I think that achieving both of the requirements are equally as feasible at either school and as such I wish I didn't place such a heavy weight of this factor into my decision process. On another note, I was very aware that the social life at UofT is quite different from other schools but I convinced myself that this didn't matter to me and I would be able to find ways to make it work. My best advice would be to be honest with yourself in terms of what is important to you in your university experience and don't settle on what those terms are. Due to the nature of UofT being in the city and largely a commuter school, the campus life is quite different than that of a school that is in a university town with a strong campus presence. While everyone's experience will be different and there are certainly ways to make your experience work for you, I think this was definitely more of a challenge for me than I had expected once I started at UofT.
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 that I considered pursuing a minor in another area of interest in first year. It is definitely feasible with the amount of electives we're able to take in the commerce program, however you have to be proactive about this and start thinking about it in first year so that you can take all the required courses for the minor. It's also a great option for commerce students to help you stand out when entering the workforce to have this differentiating experience! I would have also tried to get involved in the broader UofT community rather than tunnelling myself into strictly Rotman affiliated extra-curriculars. There's a lot of other really great opportunities at UofT and lots of interesting people to meet as well and I really wish I had taken better advantage of this.
What was your favourite university experience?
One of my best experiences at university has been being an executive member of the orientation team for my college (Woodsworth college). The year before taking my position as an executive member I participated in orientation as a leader and after having such a great experience I choose to come back on the exec team. I had the privilege of working with a really amazing exec team as well as a great cohort of energizing leaders. It really is the people who made this experience as great as it was, we quickly went from strangers to close friends and I definitely encourage everyone to consider getting involved in orientation in your upper years of university!
What was your least favourite university experience?
While there have been lots of really rough experiences in my university career, rather than just one instance, I think my worst experience would be navigating first year. I was extremely overwhelmed and stressed due to the pressures of my courses and managing the adjustment to all the differences university brings. Rather than focusing on the details of that year though, what I would say to those entering first year is that it's expected that your year will be bumpy but just know that all other first years at every university are navigating difficult times as well, whether they show it or not. Comparison really is the thief of joy so just try your best to take care of yourself, take the pressure off yourself and know that you're not alone in the process!
What is the hardest part about your program and what were the steps that you took to overcome any difficulties?
Rotman Commerce has a reputation for the difficulty of the program and that definitely holds true in reality. Our courses are very theoretical as opposed to application based which makes for a lot of content to learn and often quite complex content as well. My best advice for getting through this is to get through it with friends - have friends in all your courses so you can study together, share notes, answer each others questions and it really will make all the difference (oh and don't underestimate the benefit of past tests - most profs I've had will post them so use them!)
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?
Although I am a Rotman student, my favourite courses have been my economics courses (unpopular opinion so take this with a grain of salt). The professors in the economics department are, for the most part, really fantastic and have been what made these courses my favourite even though they have also been some of the most difficult courses I have taken. ECO101/102 with Professor Gazzale, ECO220 with Professor Murdoch, ECO324 with Professor Blouin.