Goals of this post:
- Talk about my first year experiences
As summer is finishing up, I have decided to reflect on my first-year experiences and talk about what I am excited for about second year.
This is where I finally got a place to live at for the school year. All summer long, my high school friends and I searched everywhere in Toronto for a place. It seemed like we would not get a place for the school year when a phone call came. It was my roommate’s uncle, he said that he had a place in Toronto that we could rent out. I then quickly ordered my bed and desk on Ikea and was excited for the school year.
The long-awaited journey finally began. School did not begin right away since F!rosh Week comes before the first day of school. F!rosh Week costs $100 for early bird and is 100% worth the price. From the start of the week to the end, F!rosh Week has over 18 events in 7 days. It is a great way to experience the unique events, traditions, and Skule™ spirit. F!rosh Week is also a great place to make tons of new friends.
After F!rosh Week ends, classes begin with review material which leads into the second week where all first-year Engineering students are required to take a diagnostic math test.
At the beginning of October, I had my first midterm. Yes, I said midterm. At UofT Engineering, “midterms” or “term tests” are spread out over the semester and are not in one week like some other universities. At this point, classes were way past the review point and taught university level content. The workload was also starting to get more intense.
In the middle of October I joined the Skule™ intramural soccer team.
Days started to get shorter and also colder which meant one thing …. winter break is almost here! While every other program at UofT and at other universities had reading week, I attended classes and prepared for my midterm that week since we do not get a reading week in first semester. Schoolwork was at an all-time peak and it was hard not to get behind at this point. Time management was crucial to staying on track.
My first semester project was also finishing up. A company by the name of Tanvas instructed my Engineering team & I to utilize their hardware technology to design effective solutions to assist visually impaired users to track heart rate with a fitness app. Here was my first glimpse into some industry work where I got the chance to be a Product Manager.
Midterms finished, and I had some time to prepare for final exams which are usually 40% – 50% of your grade. After final exams, winter break starts. Typically, you get 2-3 weeks of winter break depending on when your last exam is. I spent most of my winter break in Vancouver, Canada.
Engineering dinner dances also start to come out around this time. They are great for getting your mind off school work and enjoying the night with your school friends and upper years in your discipline.
Classes commenced for the second semester. Everyone who wants a summer job starts their search now. UofT also has a career fair where companies like Microsoft, Google, Bloomberg, IBM, and Intel come out to hire UofT students. In addition, more resume critique events pop up around this time. I remember staying up late most nights and applying to as many jobs as I could.
The start of the new semester also came with a new semester project. UofT Engineering students get the chance to tackle real design problems for real clients. My groups client was from a small startup. He was looking to develop an app that could be loaded onto a restaurant manager’s order-taking device that would take summaries of orders taken, revenue, and profit from several food delivery apps. The developed app would provide recommendations to optimize revenue streams among various apps. Here I worked as a Design Engineer and a Programmer for an actual client. This was great since I got to work with an industry expert on a real-world problem.
Besides typical job stuff, the highlight of my first year besides F!rosh Week was definitely Godiva Week. Godiva Week is a week-long celebration at Skule™. It has many festivities which include various engineering traditions and events, including a Chariot Race, F!rosh Hardhat Decorating Competition, Ultimate F!rosh, Godiva’s Quest, and Mr. Blue & Gold and Godiva’s Crown Competitions. Godiva week ends with an engineering semi-formal called the Cannonball. I remember during Godiva Week there were no spots left to see what was going on. All three levels of Sandford Fleming were completely full.
February was not that special besides the fact that I got my first reading week. During reading week, I got the chance to visit my high school and share some of my experiences at UofT and answer some university questions anyone had.
Most of February was spent doing labs and studying for midterms while also applying to jobs.
I finally got some interviews, not many, but it was a start. At this point of the semester I was starting to get burnt out, but it was almost over. Most classes started to finish up, so I used some of my time to prepare for few exams which would take place in the beginning of April.
Just like that, final exams are here. In addition to final exams, my Engineering design team had to present our solution to our client.
Finally, after 2 long semesters, first year is finally over.
After finishing first year, I have definitely changed as a person. I really enjoyed first year and everything that it brought with it. Entering university, I never thought I would be able to easily adjust to the new lifestyle. I am fortunate enough to have had met some amazing people who have made the process that much better. I am looking forward on entering second year ECE and the challenges that are going to come with it.
5 thoughts on “First Year Reflections”
Hi! I am planning to take a July summer course to lessen my workload in Fall. I need some advice on choosing it. So, I can either choose APS162 (MAT186 Calculus 1 online substitute) or APS164 (APS110 Chemistry online substitute).
Since the course materials of Calculus 1 is very similar to my high school calculus class, I am thinking of choosing APS162 over APS164. But, what makes me worried is the professor. Mr. Burbulla teaches Fall-term MAT186 and Mr. Cohen teaches Summer-term APS162. I’ve heard that Burbulla’s exams are easier than Cohen’s because he reuses over 70% of questions from past exams. Would it be worthful to take Cohen’s APS162 in the summer, even though it may be more difficult than Burbulla’s MAT186? How would you compare Burbulla and Cohen in terms of difficulty and getting a high grade (like 90+)?
If your suggestion is not taking Cohen’s class, should I take APS164, instead?
Also, I tried the 2019 Winter MAT186 final exam (written by Cohen) on the SKULE website on my own and I am literally frustrated by its difficulty. I mean, I am confident that I fully understood and memorized every detail, but I just can’t come up with ideas to solve the problem. Not to brag, but I got 99% in all the high school math courses, but the U of T exam made me feel stupid. I already solved a substantial amount of textbook problems, but exam questions were much harder (not even comparable). What should I do to pull my Calculus grade up to 90+?
I think the calculus course would be really good to take since high school calc is fresh in your mind. I honestly skipped most of my calc 1 lectures and did pretty well so you’ll be fine too.
One thing to mention, the summer course for calc 1 tends to have harder tests since Cohen teaches it. He definitely has harder tests however there is also a bigger curve to compensate for that (from what I have seen and heard from my peers).
The other course you mentioned is very easy during the semester. People typically get really high grades in it. The online version has more thermodynamics in it which might make it a tiny bit harder.
On your last comment: I don’t want to sound harsh, but a lot of the tests you will take will be like that or even harder (but you’ll learn on how to ace them!). Most of the students coming into UofT Engineering also have really high marks in high school so it is designed to give you a challenge. UofT Engineering will give you the material to learn, but it is your job to apply that knowledge to problems you have never seen before (just like in real life). In addition, very few students get 90% in the courses. Here is a motivating video from a UofT prof which may give you advice on how to get that 90%: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQd55M_cGJE&list=LLrJ4iJ5ZLhBNFZ-garzWDlg&index=24&t=51s
Thank you very much for your kind reply. It was very helpful as always. Take care!
Hi Bikramjit, Thank you for being so clear in your blog. Can you advise or recommend YouTube lectures and textbook that you found useful for MAT 188 ( Linear Algebra). Also, what is your general thought on the course.
Hey Raphael, sorry for the late response – for some reason your comment went to spam.
I found the beginning of the course really easy (high school review of metrics, planes, etc). When it got to transformations, the course turned 180 and I was completely lost. The course is filled with proofs that I suck at :(. Thankfully, the midterm and final only have 1 proof question aha. I practiced lots of past tests (they are similar each year) which helped me get a decent mark in the course.