• Matt Parkin

#MyFirstYear in Western Economics

As you may know from my post about mentorship, I chose Western’s Economics program after watching a YouTube video about economics from Crash Course Economics. I had recently decided that science wasn’t for me and was looking for something else to study. This video peaked my interest and prompted me to submit my application - I’m so glad I did! I had an amazing first year experience, learned a ton, and met some great people that I’m still close friends with 3 years later. Here’s a brief overview of the academic and social aspects of #MyFirstYearinWesternEconomics:



ACADEMIC


Completing your first year of studies in The Faculty of Social Science allows you to take many electives to explore your interests. I was interested in theEconomics Specialization module, so I only had 3 required courses (1.5 credits) in my first year, allowing me to take 5 elective courses (3.5 credits). You don’t need to choose your module until the end of first year, but it is a good idea to think about which one you’re interested in so you can plan your courses accordingly (see Undergraduate Economics site for a list of other Economics programs).


The Social Science Reading Room - a great place to study with lots of natural lighting


Here is a brief overview of my first year courses:

Required First-Year Courses

  • Econ 1021 (Principles of Microeconomics)

  • Half year course

  • Covers demand and supply, utility analysis, production, costs, pricing, and government regulations at an individual company level

  • Econ 1022 (Principles of Macroeconomics)

  • Half year course

  • Focuses on the performance of the national and global economy

  • Calc 1000 (Calculus)

  • Half year course

  • Reviews high school calculus and introduces new concepts

Elective Courses

  • Business 1220 (Intro to Business)

  • Full year course

  • Solve business problems through interactive case discussions

  • Learn about different areas of business (Accounting, Marketing, Organizational Behaviour, Operations, General Management)

  • Spanish 1030 (Beginner Spanish)

  • Full year course, small class (20-30 ppl)

  • Great introduction to the language for those with limited/no prior knowledge

  • Community Engaged Learning opportunity to volunteer in the London community or travel abroad to teach English in the Dominican Republic

  • Comp Sci 1032 (Information Systems & Design)

  • Half year course

  • Learn about Excel, Access, SQL, XML, and how businesses leverage information systems

  • Very useful course content

  • Comp Sci 1033 (Intro to Multimedia & Communications)

  • Half year course

  • Learn about website and poster design

  • Typically known as a “bird course”

  • Act Sci 1021 (Intro to Financial Security Systems)

  • Half year course

  • Learn about TFSAs, RRSPs, Pensions, Health & Life Insurance

  • Very useful course content

If you’re choosing courses this year, ensure you do your research by searching [Course Name + School Name + Syllabus] and speaking with students who have taken the courses before. Western has a Facebook group “Must Knows for Courses at UWO” with 33 000+ people where you can search your course name and see previous conversations about that course.


Popular Facebook group for Western students to join


Overall, I am very happy with the courses I took as I broadened my knowledge in many different fields of study. I found my professors to be easily accessible before/after class, via email, and during office hours for any questions I had. One of them even gave me a motivational pep talk when I was having a rough week.

Academics aside, let’s touch on the social aspect of my first-year experience.



SOCIAL


I lived in Delaware Hall, a traditional style residence building in the heart of campus. Our hallway had 30 students in a mix of single and double rooms with 3 communal washrooms on the floor. My floormates and I did everything together and we formed very close bonds, with some of them still being my closest friends 3 years later. Our doors opened right out onto the hallway, so you could often just poke your head in and say hi to people as you’re going off to class or the library. The building's Residence Council hosted events such as karaoke nights, paint nights, dances, volleyball, ping pong, and pool tournaments, and more, so there was always something to do in residence.


A typical double room in Delaware Hall


Outside of residence, there’s a vibrant nightlife scene in London with a large mall and several bars, clubs, and restaurants that are a 10-min bus ride away (your student card is your bus pass). The campus itself also has a movie theatre, and various concerts, dances, and events hosted by The University Students’ Council.

On the extracurricular front, there are over 200 clubs at Western and they provide a great opportunity to meet new friends and explore your interests. I also participated in hockey and ultimate frisbee intramurals once a week to stay active with friends.


Western University Student Recreation Centre


It can be scary moving away from your family and friends back home to start this new chapter of your life. Western has residence and faculty sophs, upper-year student orientation leaders who are there to direct you to resources and help support you throughout your first year.


Remember that everyone is in the same boat and is as equally excited and nervous to make new friends as you are. Take that first step and introduce yourself to someone. Some go-to icebreakers include asking them their name, their program, their hometown and if they’re in residence or off-campus.


Hope this helps provide some insight into what your first year in Western’s Economics program can look like. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions!


Matt Parkin

Co-Founder & CHRO @ LEAP Canada