Rotman Commerce at University of Toronto (St. George)
Laura (Year 2)
What did you wish you knew before going to your university? What made you choose this institution over all others? What are the advantages and disadvantages of your institution or campus? List any advice for incoming first-year students about your university.
I was actually very hesitant in joining UTSG at first because I am not a competitive person in nature but UofT is known to be very competitive in most aspects and fields. Ultimately, I decided on UofT because it was a reputable university that was close to where I live and I want to experience the amazing Downtown Toronto vibes. With that being said, the St.George campus is really massive so you should definitely take a day or two to explore downtown: Where is the Rotman school of management building? Where’s the nearest washroom? How will I commute there everyday? What does the inside of Robarts library look like? Where’s Hart House? Where is the cafeteria? Where’s my college?
Advice for first years:
Take the time to research about the professors and courses! Good professors can make a challenging course fun and interactive!
Because the St.George campus is so large, take the time to get familiar with it before school starts
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.
Before studying Rotman Commerce, I wish I knew about the first year intern opportunities at RC student groups. Rotman has tons of student groups and during August- September, they open applications for first years (incoming students) and ONLY first year students. By joining as a first year intern, it makes it easier to join that specific student group as a committee member later in the year. That doesn't mean they'll reject you because you aren't a first year intern at the group, but it is something that can elevate you and make you stand out from the rest because they will already know about you and your work ethic by the time for committee member recruitment in February.
Advice for first years:
If you are planning to engage in extracurriculars, definitely research about the different student groups, follow them on IG, go on RC portal and apply during the first year intern recruitment period.
Know the Guaranteed Admission requirements: As a first year, you are not in the Rotman program yet (you are an Arts&Sci student), until then, you have to complete 4 required courses with certain grade requirement [As of 2021, the GA requirement courses are: ECO101 (63%), ECO102 (63%) , MAT133 (63%) and RSM100 (67%)]
Make a LinkedIn and start building experiences (but do not put too much pressure on yourself to get a lot of experiences since you are only a first year!)
What was your favourite university experience?
My first year was all online so my best experience may seem very lame. I’d say my best experience at university was struggling with friends and peers. There’s a lot to say about the social life at UofT but by joining discord servers, facebook groups, etc and trying to connect, you’ll be able to make new friends. It may be a bit bumpy at the start but once you settle in, you realize how nice everyone actually is, there is the competitive and non competitive side to Rotman and I happen to land on the friendly, (somewhat) non-competitive. During the year, we had a lot of inspiration speeches and it was more of a “we’re in this together” and not “we’re in this on our own” We understood each other because we were taking the same hard exams and the same challenging projects and at some point during the winter semester, we were all really low on motivation and talking to my fellow rotman peers really gave me a boost of energy. Everyone was supportive and it gave me a sense of community.
What was your least favourite university experience?
My worst university experience was feeling overwhelmed, lost and lack of motivation. University is a whole different level than high school. Sometimes, it felt like I was alone, I didn’t know where to go, I had mental breakdowns, I lacked the motivation to study. Especially during winter where my excitement for university was at its lowest, I had no motivation to study for courses and during this time, I didn’t know if I could keep doing this for a few more years.
What is the hardest part about your program and what were the steps that you took to overcome any difficulties?
A few courses during the first year are meant to weave out students, for me, these courses were: ECO101, ECO102 and RSM100. These courses were a GA requirement so it made sense that it was difficult. Along with these challenging courses, it was also easy to lose yourself and lose motivation. University requires a lot of self-discipline and self-motivation, unlike high-school, professors wouldn’t reach out to you about upcoming deadlines or tests and if you miss an assignment, it is on you. What helped me a lot was talking to peers, friends and family members. By talking to peers, I realized I was not alone, we were all going through this together, we all had to pass with the same requirements and to advance to the second year, there wasn’t limited spots, so that did not create a competitive environment since there was unlimited spots for students to advance into second year. Everyone in first year was going through the same exact thing as you, lacking motivation, bad grades, exhaustion, etc and talking to my classmates made me feel better because I wasn’t the only one who felt this way, and we all understood what we were going through (+ it’s a great opportunity to network).
For more technical solutions, such as studying techniques/habits that may help with these challenging courses;
Keep an agenda or journal because you have to keep track of your upcoming deadlines and exams
Plan out an exam study schedule; on what days will you study for RSM100? What topics will you go through? Will you be going over test 1 and 2? Will you go over practice questions-- Make sure it is feasible and you don’t overwork yourself
Keeping a daily checklist/ to do list (checking off your tasks are so satisfying)
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?
RSM230: Financial Markets. This was an introduction to Finance course and I loved the professor, David Goldreich. He made the course so much fun and even on topics that were a little bit dry, it was very interesting because he was very enthusiastic about what he was teaching! He also likes to put old classics (beetles, queens, etc) at the beginning of the class and it made me enjoy the class even more! Amazing prof!