Nathan (Year 1) *Previously enrolled in HBSc with CAP status*
Nathan Wu (Youtube)
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 (UW) for it's highly regarded School of Pharmacy. UW's School of Pharmacy is the only Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program that has integrated co-op, which will allow me to graduate with more work experience than any other pharmacy student in Canada.
An advantage of attending Waterloo is the confidence of knowing that you are at a world-leading university with excellent teaching and fantastic facilities. You are being taught by the best of best, and when it comes time to graduate, you will be prepared for success. A disadvantage (which can also be a positive feature) is the competitiveness among students. It can be intimidating at times, but it also motivates one to work that much harder.
Advice for incoming Waterloo students:
Know what kind of student/learner you are
Prioritize your mental health
Understand that you will encounter difficulties & even failure
Surround yourself with positive people
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.
If I could go back in time, I would avoid crafting expectations. This goes for expectations about campus life, academics, friendships, and the list goes on. Be open-minded and encounter your experiences as they come.
An advantage of the PharmD program at Waterloo is the integrated co-op, as mentioned previously. The disadvantage is that the School of Pharmacy is located further from UW's main campus, which can be inconvenient. However, the reason for its separate location is due to its neighbouring facilities, such as a hospital, eye clinic, and family health care centre.
Advice for incoming pre-pharm/pharmacy students:
Expect to be challenged and pushed to your limit
Appreciate everything you learn in and outside the classroom
What was your favourite university experience?
My best experience at Waterloo is the moments of academic success, as well as the unforgettable moments with friends.
Academic success would be studying hard and persevering even though the material feels impossible to understand. And then acing your exam, knowing that you put everything into it and your efforts paid off.
The unforgettable moments are pretty self-explanatory. You'll make life-long friends in university, and all the moments that come with it will be incredible. From the inside jokes that make your stomach hurt to screaming songs at the top of your lungs on nights out, university is an experience like no other.
What was your least favourite university experience?
My worst university experiences usually involve performing poorly in my classes. Throughout your studies, you will take classes where no matter how hard you study, you still won't get the desired grade. Whether you get an 80 or 60, if you tried your best, that's all anyone can ask for. Be proud of your efforts, regardless of the result. I learned this ideology in my first year of university and have remembered it ever since.
What is the hardest part about your program and what were the steps that you took to overcome any difficulties?
Pre-pharm was hard. You are required to take challenging courses that often dictate whether you are a fit for pharmacy school, and that adds a lot of stress. However, I was able to make school easier, with these two steps:
1. Work smart, not hard
I learned that I was a morning person, and so I would get up early, be productive, and then reserve my evenings for me to relax. I was able to work less yet study more effectively.
2. A good support system
I developed a circle of friends that would encourage me, motivate me, but also cheer me up when I was feeling down. School is not easy, and it's impossible for you to succeed alone, so make sure that you have someone to help you in times of need.
I know that pharmacy school will be even more tough, but I'm excited and ready to take it on!
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 from my undergraduate studies had to have been Latin. I love learning languages and it was refreshing to have a non-science course in my schedule.
I hope you enjoyed hearing about my experience at the University of Waterloo. I have a YouTube channel (Nathan Wu) where I share my life as a student, provide study tips, and create other fun content. Check it out and subscribe! You can also follow me on Instagram (@nathan.wu) to stay connected! Lastly, I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavours.