Tyler (Year 2)
What made you choose this institution over all others? Did the university exceed your expectations?
In the university application process I was deciding between pursuing Aviation or Engineering. Upon reflecting on the passion and fascination I had for commercial aviation and aircraft ever since I was a kid, I decided to pursue Aviation. University of Waterloo has the largest university aviation program in Canada, and the reputation of both the university and the flight centre (Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre) were very good. I used to debate between getting a university degree or going into a college flight program, but UW's aviation program meant that I could graduate with both a commercial pilot's license, along with a Bachelor in Science. Personally, the university did exceed my expectations! You always hear about how morale at UW is not always high, but I found the atmosphere in my program and community to be very positive and encouraging. Although this depends on what program you're in, I found there to be many more opportunities and supports available for me as a first year student.
Do you have any lingering thoughts or regrets in your year as a whole (ex; application process, mistakes going into first year). If so, describe them.
Just one "what I wish I would've known" for any aviation prospective students! Flight training happens whenever you don't have class in the Winter semester, so you have to be very on top of your own calendar. One day you may have a 6:54 am flight, and a 5:21pm flight the next day. The flights all depend on the weather as well. Because of this, you have to always be ready to make plans or cancel plans depending on weather, as well as managing your time to allow for travel to and from the flight centre, as well as committing to your own academics and extracurriculars.
Briefly describe the academic rigour of your program (in terms of competitiveness, courses, professors, etc.)
Science and Aviation can be thought of as a double degree, with two different degrees happening at once. In terms of my science academics, the course selection is very flexible for aviation students. I could pursue science streams I was interested in studying, and decide my own path in the specific science courses. The courses themselves were quite challenging, but I did not find them incredibly difficult or overwhelming. On the aviation side, the courses are provided by the flight centre in affiliation with the university. I found ground school (aviation academics / theory) to be very fast paced and required a lot of personal discipline to complete the studies. There was a lot of aviation material covered in short periods of time, so studying on your own was essential to do well on the tests. Of course, aviation comes with physical flight training as well, and these required lots of studying and reviewing prior to entering the cockpit with your instructor. Although the material wasn't too hard, there was a lot of material at a fast pace.
Describe the social life at your campus based on your own experiences (making friends, clubs + extracurriculars, party culture etc.)
I actually had a very fruitful social experience at Waterloo and I made a lot of relationships and memories from my first year there. It was very easy to make friends within my program as well as in the huge amount of clubs at UW. I was personally in one of the A Cappella groups at UW, as well as the Chinese Christian group, and I was able to create really solid friendships there. I managed to find a great balance between academics and social life as well. I'm personally not a party person so I'm not a good person to ask about party culture at Waterloo. However, I found that the lack of party life at UW to be true, and it's hard to find good parties (you'll find them if you look though). Most people go over to Laurier for a more active party scene.
What are some of the best and worst parts of your university experience so far?
The greatest thing would have to be my experience with A Capella and my aviation flight training! A Capella was such a new experience for me, and the vibrant, expressive form of art was nothing I've ever done before! My group actually won 1st place at the quarterfinals of the ICCA competition, but because of COVID-19 we couldn't compete at semifinals in Buffalo. In any case, the memories and friendships made in that club were unreal. Because I've had a passion for aviation since childhood, being able to study it and experience flight training with other aviation fanatics was a dream come true! My lowest point in first year would have to be adjusting to the demanding schedule of aviation + academics + extracurriculars. It became very stressful for me to try and sort out all my commitments in the context of irregular and weather-dependent flight training, so I had to reach out to my friends for support.
List three effective study techniques and/or habits:
GOOGLE CALENDAR! If you're entering aviation, you will need some form of agenda to keep track of your commitments and flight training days. The reminders and organization in google calendar were a lifesaver for me.
Finding your study habits! Everyone learns and studies differently, so don't be afraid to use the first few weeks/months to experiment with how you learn, where you like to study, etc.
Put away your phone, and/or use study apps. It's crazy how much time can be wasted if you just pick your phone up while you study. I found myself wasting valuable time during study sessions just scrolling Instagram! Find a way to put away the distraction, or find apps that encourage you to stay focused.
List three pieces of advice for first-year students:
If you're curious like me, actively search for new places to study on campus! I would look for new, quiet study areas every few weeks, and sometimes I would land on some gems! This helped me not only to study in fresh spaces but also helped discover my university more.
Take advantage of your residence community! I had an amazing group of floor-mates and we made some really valuable friendships that will last us throughout your studies. Make an effort to make new friends in your residence in the first few weeks of school, and continue to greet them throughout the year!