I’m Naton Ting, currently a student in the Faculty of Arts with an undeclared major at The University of British Columbia.
There is no doubt transitioning from high school to university is a huge challenge, even without a global pandemic. The learning styles in high school and university differ greatly, and you’re expected to be in charge of your own learning. This could not have been more true now that we’re all sitting in front of our laptops in our bedrooms instead of lecture halls. Whilst you may be left to yourself to learn, your professors at TAs will still be more than willing to help you if you’re unsure or stuck on anything, and you should reach out to them during office hours or through email as soon as you need help.
One of the greatest experiences in my first year of studies is meeting new people from all around the world, both through orientation programs (such as Jump Start) and in my courses. Although the pandemic has meant almost all of the university’s activities and courses are held online, it was still a great experience being able to talk to people from different backgrounds and cultures over video call. I even got to see some of the people I met during Jump Start in person after moving onto campus for the second term, and we have become friends ever since. Life in student residence has also been a highlight for me, as the short conversations I’ve had with other floormates has made me appreciate what it’s like to be part of a community that has each other’s back during this period of online learning.
The biggest challenge I’ve had this year is keeping myself motivated to learn online. Without anyone to watch over me and keep me in check, it has been tempting to skip a lecture, zone out of lessons or just lay in bed all day. To counter that temptation, I have forced myself to stick to a routine, and it seems to be working.
To those currently applying, I strongly recommend doing through research on the universities you’re applying to, as wherever you’re going it’ll be your life for the next couple years! This means looking beyond just academics and exploring what a student’s everyday life is like at the university and whether it’ll suit you. While it may be hard to visit campuses in person right now, you could chat to someone who has/is studying there to find out more about what it’s like. When it’s time to write your application, have others read through it, as they might provide ideas you haven’t thought about. Finally, when you receive your offer be sure to read through the conditions and consider each carefully before making the final decision. It’s definitely not worth rushing through the process, only to regret your decision when it’s too late to change!