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Chemical Engineering at University of Waterloo

Alisa (Year 3)

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 chose the University of Waterloo over other universities because it has a reputable engineering program and it gave me the opportunity to gain work experience and make money at the same time. UW is really great at providing support when applying to jobs. All job postings are available on Waterloo works which makes applying to jobs very simple. The coop program has given me real job experience and taught me skills that I would not have learned in school. 

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.

Engineering at Waterloo has cohort based classes which means that you're with the same group of people for the next 5 years. I wish I knew that before so I could get to know them a bit better and make more friends in my class. It's harder to make friends outside of the program unless you're part of clubs or teams. I had applied to computer engineering as a throughway to a software job and I hadn't anticipated how many hardware courses we would be taking or what they would be about, so I wish I had taken the time to look at the courses more carefully. The professors are very helpful and will take the time to answer your questions and give you necessary support during office hours or after class. When explaining new concepts, profs are very thorough and will give anyone a chance to ask questions.

What was your favourite university experience? 

Meeting people and moving into my first apartment. I made some really great friends in first year and they've been by my side since (I'm even living with two of them now). It's great being around people who have the same interests as you and are able to relate to you. I love the independence of living on my own/with my friends. 

What was your least favourite university experience?

I personally didn't enjoy frosh week. I felt like it was a big summer camp where upper years took us around to see campus and play games. It wasn't as much freedom as I would've liked and I didn't enjoy the activities. I ended up leaving early to go home with my brother that weekend. I didn't connect with a lot of people during frosh, I met all my friends in class or during coop.

What is the hardest part about your program and what were the steps that you took to overcome any difficulties?

The hardest part of my program is the amount of content and hours of class. On average we have about 30 hours of class a week and with that comes a lot of new content. It's difficult to manage my time sometimes, to be able to balance classes, study on my own and to socialize. To overcome it, I spend some time planning out my days and what my week might look like to keep track of due dates. It gives me an idea of what I have to do and allows me to focus on one thing at a time. Time management is really important.

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 was ECE140 which was our first year circuits course. This course was very similar to the circuits content that I had learned in high school therefore the initial part of the course was review. The content was interesting and it wasn't too hard to understand. The labs were engaging and allowed us to apply the knowledge we learned in class to real life scenarios.

Additional Comments

Residence is a great experience and allows you to meet a lot of people. There are organized activities from your don and it gives you a chance to meet people on different floors in different programs. The campus food was alright but it was very repetitive. After the first month I had already had all the food that was available and I had started cooking on my own. Residence was a good experience but I wouldn't do it again. I also have a podcast where I talk more about life as a university student (search Alisa Chang on Spotify, apple podcast, or google play, the name of the podcast is “generational”).



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