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Human Kinetics at the University of Guelph

Updated: Jul 30, 2020

By Meg Wyatt

Hey, if you’re reading this article I assume you’re interested in learning more about the University of Guelph, and maybe even the Human Kinetics (HK) program specifically at UofG! My name is Meg Wyatt and I just graduated from the Bachelor of Science Human Kinetics program and the University of Guelph. I would love to tell you about HK, UofG and university life in general, to help make your decision of university and program, a little easier!

What separates Human Kinetics at Guelph from other Kinesiology or related programs across Ontario?

Often HK and Kinesiology (Kin) are categorized together — and though there are many similarities between HK and Kin, there are also some differences.

First of all, if you’re interested in kinesiology, then HK is the equivalent UofG has to offer! Back when I was in grade 12, I was fairly set on going into Kin, and when considering UofG I was initially disappointed because I didn’t find ‘Kin’ under the listed programs. Luckily, my guidance counsellor pointed me in the right direction, informing me ‘Kin’ can fall under different program names — such as HK, exercise science, or phys-ed, across universities.

So, what makes HK similar to Kinesiology? The overall ‘theme’ of both is the general concept of the human body, human health and preventative measures. Some topics you would learn across all Kin programs include human anatomy, physiology and exercise benefits to health. Whichever Kin program you choose, these courses will likely be among your favourite and also most useful!

Now, you may wonder about HK at UofG and what makes this program different than others, and these following points were fundamental to my decision of applying to the HK program at UofG. To start, almost all Biological science majors take the same basic science courses in their first year. The purpose of this is to lay down a general understanding of chemistry, physics, calculus and of course biology so that students start off with a solid base knowledge to then grow from in the following years of their degree. Additionally, students are able to change their majors easily during or after first year as most other majors require the same base science courses.

As I just listed, HK students do take all the sciences — this is another major difference compared to some Kin programs at other universities. In HK, you will get a solid understanding for physics and chemistry, which enables you to be successful in biomechanics and biochemistry, respectively. Not only are these courses vital to better understanding the human body, but also opens more doors for careers down the road. For example, students hoping to peruse medical school must write the MCAT, which tests on introductory sciences of which a UofG student will have taken in their first year, or HK students could peruse a career as a Biomechanist, which many Kin programs do not prepare students for because physics/biomechanics is not incorporated into the degree.

The College of Kinesiology has ranked HK at UofG as the most heavily weighted science program in Ontario, the pro to this? You will have a thorough and vast understanding of the sciences, opening many doors for future careers. The con, however, is due to many science classes, you will not get as many hands on courses as other ‘Kin’ programs in Ontario. How I got around this, is volunteering! Not only is it great for your resume, it is free experience that can help guide you to whichever career you are most passionate about!

The last difference that makes HK stand out, and the main reason why I (and many of my classmates) chose this major, is the Human Anatomy Program. The UofG is the only place where undergraduate students can perform full body in depth cadaveric dissections. Many students in HK and the sister program, Biomedical Sciences, hope to peruse a career in healthcare, of which knowing one’s anatomy is crucial. From my experience, there is simply no better way to learn anatomy than by hands on, dissection based learning. If you plan to go to medical school, chiropractic school or other healthcare professional schools, often UofG students lead the way in those anatomy classes as they have the unique experience with cadaveric dissections.

What opportunities does being in this program create for you, both in undergrad and for the future?

As previously explained, HK at UofG opens an abundance of doors for you to choose from for a career, arguably more than any other program as you will have more science knowledge under your belt than any other Kin program in Ontario. Just some examples of careers that HK students are able to peruse include medicine, chiropractor, physiotherapist, kinesiologist, biomechanist, personal trainer, athletic therapist, exercise physiologist, physiologist, physicians assistant, ergonomist, nurse, osteopath, respiratory therapist, and many many more.

What was your experience with first year like?

Most students in science programs will say that first year was tough, and I agree. I had a hard time adjusting to living on my own (initially at only 17 years old) and sharing a room with someone else (I am an only child, so sharing a room was new to me). As I said, UofG prepares students for the long run by having students get a general understanding of all sciences to then build on from there. Due to this, first year is challenging. The good news however, is everyone finds it challenging so you’re not alone, UofG provides numerous resources to help and first year marks typically will not matter when you apply to professional schools/careers after your degree. Applying to UofG, I had a ~90% average from high school, compared to the ~70% average of first year, and this drop in average is the case for almost all first year science students. I am sharing this not to scare students away from UofG science programs, first year is tough where ever you go, and for many reasons. But the good news is your experience only gets better, your courses only become more interesting and you’ll only do better and better! By the end of third year, my average had increased to a high 80%.

Which extracurriculars have you been involved in and how did they help to shape your university experience?

Probably my #1 piece of advice for your university experience is to get involved! I was very involved in extracurriculars in highschool so I carried that through into university. Over my four years, I played on many intramural teams (soccer, ultimate frisbee, multisport, inner tube water polo) and this was probably one of my favourite extracurriculars. I got to meet new people, try new sports and always had those games to look forward to in the week. Additionally, I joined the Human Kinetics Student Association (HKSA) as a clothing seller. I did this in second year, and by a bit of luck and commitment, I became the HKSA president for third and fourth year. My point in telling you this, is to get involved — you never know what you’ll learn about yourself and the opportunities that will present from such involvement. I also did a lot of volunteering in undergrad; I was a physiotherapist assistant in the Health and Performance Center (HPC) on campus, laboratory study assistant and I taught anatomy to the community. Each one of these experiences helped shape my goals for a future career and provide me with hands on experience.

What is your favourite part of this program?

My favourite part of this program is the overall support provided. The UofG is a very open and welcoming community (try going through a door on campus without someone holding it open for you)! The professors, teaching assistants and guidance counsellors are all routing for your success. Your classmates become your friends, through labs and projects and throughout your four years you support one another. The program itself is designed to support students to be successful in an array of possible careers and gives students the confidence to make a difference while UofG students and once they have become alumni.

What is something you wish you knew before entering this program?

This is a great question, because if I were to do undergrad over again, I would tell myself not to worry too much about grades, at least for the first year or two. As I previously said, my high school average dropped significantly in comparison to my first year average; I was tough on myself for not getting the grades I saw in high school but that is not realistic of first year university courses. Overall, everyone else is in the same boat and if you put in the work, your marks will rise undoubtedly over second, third and fourth year.

Thank you for reading this article — I sincerely hope you are excited about whichever university program you decide is best for you, undergrad will likely be one of the best four years of your life!

Thanks for reading this article! If you liked it, consider checking out the other articles on our page and stay tuned for new ones weekly! Did you know we also pair high school students with uni students in their desired program for advice and mentorship? Check out our sign-up page to register as a mentor or mentee today!

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