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Looking for some guidance

  1. Aug 24, 2009 #1
    Hi, I'm going into 1st year university in the fall and I'm kind of nervous because I'm attending a really competitive engineering program in the U of T (Engineering Science). Does anyone have any general advices on how I could succeed academically? What are some courses that are typically hard in 1st year engineering? I've heard some scary stories about programming, math, and physics.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 24, 2009 #2
    So I'm currently a junior Physics/Math major, but I heard some good general advice this summer that I wish I had heard earlier. There's three main things that college students do; study, sleep, and party. You only have the time to do two of these things reasonably well, although to be fair it IS possible to do a lousy job at all of them. Choose wisely.
  4. Aug 24, 2009 #3
    lol I don't plan to party since my program is eliminating the bottom 30% after 1st year
  5. Aug 24, 2009 #4
    I'm guessing U of T stands for University of Texas? or Tennessee? I go to UT Austin and the advice I can give is to plan out your 4 year classes you're planning on taking.

    Also, I've made As in most of my classes not because I'm particularly academically competent but because I go to tutoring every week - in fact I've done most (probably 75%) of my studying in my college's tutoring center.

    Most universities have free tutoring for math + science usually up to sophomore level. UT Austin offered free tutoring for Calculus 1 - 3 and physics + chemistry.

    You can party just be smart about it, if you have a class at 8 or 9 am the next day don't be up at clubs getting krunk until 5 am and wake up and vomit during the prof's lecture. Fridays are the best day to party and then have saturday as a recoop day then Sunday a study/hang out day.

    Also I wouldn't advise taking any more or any less than 5 classes your first semester. 5 classes is the average load and you should become comfortable with the work load.
  6. Aug 24, 2009 #5
    Thanks for the reply

    Sorry for not being clear in my first post. U of T stands for University of Toronto. I have to take 6 classes and the classes are pre-registered for me by the faculty so I can't do anything about it. I'm going to try to refrain from partying in my first year and see how it goes because I'm living in residence. I'm not that smart either which is why I'm very worried right now.
  7. Aug 24, 2009 #6
    Ah another Torontonian. I myself am a second year physics student that goes to the University of Ottawa, but a couple of my friends are doing engineering at UoT.

    For you to get into UoT it means that you have a firm grasp of the material your studying so you shouldn't have to much problems with the work. The problem however, especially in first year is managing your time effectively, which can be difficult with the amount of assignments you have and if you have a bad schedule it can really cause problems. So if you can do little things like studying on the bus on your way to school, perhaps staying at the library to study after your class instead of going home and coming back in 4 hours for another class will save you lots of time which can be used to study.

    Manage your time well and you'll do fine.
  8. Aug 24, 2009 #7
  9. Aug 24, 2009 #8
    Very rarely are college courses so astronomically paced so as to overwhelm you - I'm a junior in physics and so far the only times I get into trouble are when I spend a week of not studying and then try to cram things 2 days before an exam.

    If you study a little bit every day you should find college relatively easy although again tutoring + professor office hours are lifelines.

    Also, you don't have to be "smart" to exceed in university, most professors give allowances that students have difficulty with ~ well difficult material. Talk to your professors and get their feedback.
  10. Aug 24, 2009 #9
    as my old math teacher used to tell us: "University's are full of average people that try hard."

    my situation is close to yours, i'm starting at U of Waterloo CompSci in 2 weeks which is also a relatively competitive program (competing for co-op spots). my game plan is to work hard to understand all concepts.
  11. Aug 25, 2009 #10


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    Upper year students like to tell horror stories to frighten incoming students. For one thing, that first year can be tough, and now they have something to be proud of having gotten through. For another, horror stories can help in justifying poor marks. There's also a fair amount of school and program pride that comes into play too. Everyone wants to believe that they've come through the toughest program going, and that their marks would have been higher had they attened some 'weaker' program.

    The bottom line is that most often these horror stories are just stories. First year engineering is pretty uniform from school to school, especially in Canada, so I wouldn't worry too much about it before you even start class.

    There's a lot of good advice up here. Put the appropriate amount of time into your studies and balance that with enough extra-curricular stuff to keep you happy and well-motivated and you should be fine.
  12. Aug 25, 2009 #11
    Oh cool Waterloo is a great school, I have a couple of friends going there, maybe you'll meet them. I plan to do the same, hopefully I can stick to it
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