The Mentorship Spot
How to Make the Best out of Undergrad at Guelph
Hello there, my name is Teesha Hydzik and I am a student at the University of Guelph. I am currently in my 4th year of Molecular Biology and Genetics. If you’re reading this article I would love to tell you about my experience at Guelph to ease the decision making process for potential high school students choosing to come to Guelph.
Why did you choose your program?
When I first began at Guelph University, I was an Environment Science student. After taking some cell biology and genetics courses I soon came to realize that I was more interested in Molecular Biology and Genetics. I really like learning how cells interact with each other and their environment in order to function as well as understanding how certain genes are inherited. I noticed that my interests weren’t being fulfilled in Environmental Sciences, so in my second year I switched to Molecular Biology and Genetics. I also really love how my program really challenges me to think more critically and apply the knowledge that I learned.
What do you like about Guelph?
I really enjoy Guelph’s laidback environment. Everyone is very friendly and welcoming. I also really like that the professors are really caring and understanding towards all students. In high school, we are told that the professors wouldn’t care about us and that we’re on our own but I found that to not be true. In fact, if you’re really struggling within courses, the professors are always there to help out in whatever way they can so that you become successful in each course.
What was your experience in residence like?
Living in residence was fun. In my first year, I was assigned into an academic cluster – this means that all the people in my residence were from the same program as me. This really helped with making friends in my program and forming study groups with each other. It made my residence feel like a tight knit community. The food in residence was great! Some of the dining halls would have different themes or cuisines for each night, which provided a lot of variety. We also had fun events such as movie nights, casino night, winter formal, and stress busters during exam seasons.
What are some tips that you have to be successful in University?
I think establishing good studying habits are helpful in being successful. Figure out what works best for you when studying. For instance, I try to start reviewing my notes at least a few weeks in advance before a big exam. I know for some people, rewriting their notes helps them to understand the information a lot better. This goes hand in hand with keeping track of important deadlines. Having a calendar that can help you to remember due dates for assignments or upcoming exams/quizzes will not only help to keep you organized, but form studying habits that will benefit you.
Additionally, attending lectures daily is really important. Professors will spend time explaining the course content in greater detail. This may help to clarify any questions/confusion that you may have on the course material. You also absorb the information a lot better versus just reading the textbook or course notes. Writing your notes while in class helps with remembering the information better. Write down major points that the prof mentions. However, it is helpful to remember that you don’t need to write down every single word that they say, since most of that information can be found in the lecture notes. Only write down what you don’t know.
Another really good way of being successful is by making connections with people in your courses/programs. I found that I learn better when I had friends in my courses because we would help each other with the course material. This also allowed me to form study groups which were super helpful during exam season.
The last and most important tip to remember is to go at your own pace. There is no need to rush anything or have anything figured out while in university. It’s never too late to switch programs if you realize it isn’t what you want.
What advice can you give to first year students coming to Guleph?
One big piece of advice I would say is that moving away from home is a huge adjustment. You have to learn to be independent and take on more responsibilities. I remember my first month in residence was really hard for me, but over time, things got better. It is important to remember that you’re not alone in this experience. Many students are going through a similar situation.
A good place to start is by establishing a routine that works for you. Schedule courses that work best for your life. Personally, I chose to have all my classes in the morning so that I could have the rest of the day to do what I want.
There are many helpful resources that Guelph offers. For one, they have library help centers for many courses. Another helpful resource that was useful were the professors’ office hours. The professors really do care about you being successful in the course, so they are willing to sit and help you when you are struggling to understand a concept. They will help you grasp a better understanding of the content.
I think the most important thing to remember is to take time for yourself. Make sure to make time for self-care and do not push yourself over the edge, especially regarding things that are out of your control. It is important to learn to accept failures and do what you can do.
How did you make the most out of your program?
Making friends in my program really helped with making the most out of your program. Having a good group of friends helped me with making many good memories and experiences that I could always look back on. It is also very nice to have people that you can go to if you need help, it makes university life a lot less difficult.
What does your program offer?
There are many routes that could be taken with molecular biology and genetics. You could become involved with research or become a genetic counsellor. You could also strive to go into the medical field with this program. There are new fields that are constantly being developed in molecular biology and genetics so being involved in research provides a lot of opportunities. There are ways that you can start gaining research experience during your undergrad. The best way to go about it is to contact professors across your facility and ask to volunteer with them. Many professors are willing to accept students to volunteer in their lab and work with one of their graduate students. Taking research projects course during fourth year can be a great opportunity as well.
How did you save money?
This one was a big adjustment for me but the way I saved money was to set limits for myself. I would check my bank account frequently and if I notice that one week I spent too much money I would limit myself the following week. The major focus here would be self-controlling yourself so that you never go overboard. Another really good way I saved money was to make sure I only bought course material that was required. For example, if the professor says that we don’t need a textbook for a course or that it is recommended but not required, I wouldn’t buy it. Most of the time in situations like this, the professors usually give you all the information you need to know during lectures. The only time I would need a textbook would be if I needed extra help. However, instead of buying it, the professor usually reserves the textbook in the library so that you can access it whenever needed. This will help with saving money tremendously.
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