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Commerce at University of British Columbia

Queenie (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.

Although I applied to schools out east as well, I knew that I was most likely going to stay in BC. As I visited UBC and SFU (Beedie is also a great business school with a really good co-op program), I realized that the visual aesthetic of the school really mattered to me. UBC had more greenery, modernized buildings, and generally more natural light, which was a huge plus for me. This university also had many more clubs and teams than I had imagined, and I wish I had looked into them prior to the club days in or–der to make a more informed decision on which ones to join. Now I'm involved with multiple clubs as an executive member, but I do regret not immersing myself earlier on last year.

Something that people may not know (this is advice for when school resumes on campus), is that around lunchtime, Subway has a little table in Life where they sell $4 pre-made sandwiches! You can save lots of time from skipping the super long line, as well as money.

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.

One of the reasons I chose to stay local and study at UBC because of the financial benefits I had, but more importantly, Sauder is also one of the top business schools in Canada which many of my role models and mentors went to. The BCom is a very flexible program, allowing students to choose basically as many business specializations as we would like (although usually, people choose one or two).

Something that I highly recommend incoming first years to do is to research their profs on, as well as ask upper years in the same program about profs to avoid/look for who might be particularly amazing or terrible. Although it may be common knowledge to some, I was not aware of this and probably could have ended up with better profs in my first year.

One tip that should be taken with a grain of salt is to be aware of the importance of grades in this program - depending on what specialization, career/graduate path you want to go down after undergrad, and if you are aiming for prestigious programs such as Sauder's PMF program (Portfolio Management Foundation), GPAs could vary in importance. Listen to multitudes of perspectives from peers, upper years, profs, and professionals, and you will probably hear that experiences outside of class (being an executive for a club, managing an event, attending networking events and then FOLLOWING UP with those you clicked with, etc.) is where you really learn! Obviously, try not to fail any classes, but just remember to stay involved as best as you can.

What was your favourite university experience?

All of my favourite memories from first year were based around friends and food. Vancouver is arguably one of the best places in Canada to get a diverse range of food, desserts, and drinks, and I sure took advantage of that with my friends. I would suggest keeping an eye out for various food events that happen on campus too!

What was your least favourite university experience?

So far, my university experience has been nothing short of fun, engaging, and challenging. One moment that made me briefly discouraged was when my first semester French professor handed back our first round of papers. I had always been pretty good at French in high school, which was partly the reason that I chose to pursue a French minor, but as I checked my mark on the front page, my heart dropped. The red "C" was menacing, but it encouraged me to adapt to my new academic environment, and achieve my goal grade for all the next assignments. I'm quite grateful that I had this shock, as it forced me to act upon my goals, instead of just having empty expectations.

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

If you are going into Sauder, you may have already heard of COMM101. Although it is overall not too bad of a course, it really depends on the composition of your group project team - you are together for the entire semester. I went into Sauder with a certain expectation of my peers, but I was quite mistaken. As groups are randomized, you may have teammates that will not regularly communicate with you, miss deadlines, or have different standards of work quality. I learned quickly to deal with these "social loafers" by learning how to be honest and rigid while hurting their feelings as little as possible.

This course also has quite a lot of in-class participation. In person, you would've had to speak into a microphone and have a camera zoom into your face to be displayed on a large screen at the front of the lecture hall. Over Zoom, do your best to say whatever value-adding points you can, and just have fun in the class!

I am not really a "numbers person", so I was not particularly fond of COMM290 and COMM291 (both statistics-related courses). Make sure to do and understand the practice exams, ask upper years for any practice exams they have (many are very very similar to the actual exam!!), and create a fully comprehensive Excel sheet that is easy to navigate (291 specific).

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 this isn't a first year course, COMM204, Introduction to Operations and Logistics, is a required second-year course that pulls some topics from COMM290 and 291 (stats). It is quite math heavy, but the material is very logical and I would highly suggest registering with Sha Liao, as she is a very thorough professor and truly cares about her students' learning.

Additional Comments

UBC's dragonboat team, UBC Current, is really cool! Check us out on IG @ubc.current :)

An amazing opportunity for musicians: MusicBox Children's Charity offers fully-funded music lessons and workshops for children in vulnerable situations all across Canada! They will be online due to the pandemic, and new volunteers are welcome - take a look at

UBC Chinese Students' Association will also be hosting many virtual events based around food, gaming, culture, and more! You can meet new people, make some friends, and have a great time in the comfort of your own home. Keep an eye out for updates on IG @ubccsa or on FaceBook.

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