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Life Sciences at the University of Toronto (St. George)

Christine (Year 4)

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 wish I put myself out there more, as it would have greatly helped to make university a more exciting experience. University of Toronto, specifically the St. George campus is huge and it contains many different facilities and often, that can scare people away - but if you look hard enough and are willing to take time to explore the different clubs, and opportunities, you’ll make great friends and memories. This was something I started doing in 3rd year and it made it a lot more memorable compared to my first and third year.

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.

Life sciences at UofT is a program that offers a wide variety of opportunities to major, minor or specialize in. However, I wish I knew how huge the classroom sizes would be as now that I am going into my fourth year, the classes have reduced dramatically and I greatly prefer the smaller class sizes. This makes interacting with professors and other students easier than sitting inside a huge classroom (Convocation Hall) with multiple students and not really having the opportunity to interact with one another (also it makes approaching professors and students a lot scarier than it actually is).

What was your favourite university experience?

The best experience at university is finding a core group of people that will support you throughout your journey at university. This makes a huge difference, especially if you’re quiet and shy like me (as I prefer to be independent and do my own thing) - it doesn’t always work. It can make university a lot more miserable and lonely than it actually is which is why it’s crucial to make friends throughout university!

What was your least favourite university experience?

The worst experience at university is the huge classroom sizes and limited 1:1 interactions with professors. Albeit, first and second year revolved a lot around learning general sciences courses hence the classroom sizes were larger but I think now that I’ve experienced smaller lab and classroom sizes, I feel more connected and intrigued in what I’m doing and learning compared to when I was stuck sitting in a large hall.

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

The hardest part about my program was the limited testing opportunities. By this I mean that in first and second year, a lot of the techniques the professors were using to mark the way you learn was through multiple choice and short answers. Albeit, there were over 1000 students that needed to be tested on the same material, this testing method didn’t truly reflect learning. Many students perform well in presentations, essays, and other methods which is why I felt that this should definitely be implemented more into first and second year. Aside from this challenge, I find that implementing a proper studying method in first year and finding individuals to study with (i.e. a support system) can help you to prepare for these multiple choice only tests/exams.

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 CSB350 as this gave me a great opportunity into a REAL one-on-one classroom experience that I felt like I missed out on for first and second year. It was also a great lab class where I got to learn a lot of different laboratory techniques etc. I also took this course with some of my best friends to this day, making it such a better experience.

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