No one really knows what to expect when they first come to university. You can make guesses and predictions but you won’t know what it’s going to be like until you experience it. But we are humans, and we desire security in our futures, so we’re going to go seek out advice anyways. That’s what we at the newspaper are hoping to offer you—a succinct and informative look at some of the biggest and most basic first-year courses and what you should expect and do to thrive here at U of T.

 

THE BEST

ANT1001Y1-Y: Introduction to Anthropology

Professors: Lehman, Friesen and Kalmar

This is another one of those big classes, but it definitely stands out in comparison to, say, SOC101. Yes, expect to do a lot of reading and know your way around multiple choice. Arguably the most important component is the research paper you have to write, and it’s pretty straightforward so long as you can coherently formulate some semblance of an essay.

       

But the defining feature of the course is the panel of professors. Lehman is engaging, funny and informative. Kalmar is humorously dry, but can sometimes wander away from his point. Friesen is a nice guy, but his lectures are probably the most straightforward and dry. Often, their lectures aren’t always straight from the book. In a similar vein, the bi-weekly tutorials are all focused on different activities and reflections, and they’re pretty interesting to attend.


Oh, and you’ll be entertained long after the course is over if you keep a running list of the jokes made during lectures like I did!

 

PSY100H1: Introduction to Psychology

Professor: Dolderman

I took this course to fulfill a breadth requirement, but I still found myself intrigued by the amount of interesting content it had to offer. Of course, some chapters can be a bit dull, but Dolderman does a great job of keeping the lecture interesting with his enthusiasm. The format of the course is simple: Dolderman gives lectures that cover main topics, and readings supplement them.  Since this is an introductory course, many topics have to be covered, so there’s a lot of reading to be done that can pile up quick, so be warned.


The multiple choice exam can be quite comprehensive, but there are an abundance of past exams that you can use to practice beforehand. Some people say the course is all about memorization, but what sets A+ students apart is their ability to use what they learned and apply it to a real-world scenario. Understand the concepts in and out and you will come out of this course with a great mark and a better understanding of how humans behave.


THE WORST

CHM138H1: Introduction to Organic Chemistry I

Professors: Dicks, Winnik and Browning

Each year, there are thousands of first-year students who want to enter medical school. If you are one of them, it is mandatory that you do well in this course. This is a challenging course that starts slowly but halfway through the semester rapidly picks up its pace. Dicks is a captivating lecturer and makes the course interesting. It’s up to you to shape your interest into work ethic, as your final grade will be proportionate to the amount of effort you put in.


The tutorials and practicals are there to assist you in understanding the course content and more importantly, teach you the critical thinking skills needed on examinations. The tutorials and practicals are also free marks, so don’t skip out on them. Organic chemistry isn’t so much memorization—although there is a ton—but application of your knowledge. It’s all about problem solving, and what little multiple choice there is, it’s the kind where answers are supplied to choose from once you’ve solved a problem. Sometimes it’s really the stuff of nightmares, but doable if you stay focused, work hard and ask for help when needed.


ECO100Y1-Y: Introduction to Economics

Professor: Pesando

Usually people underestimate just how hard this course can be. Expect some reading and light, weekly homework, but if you don’t stay on top of it all you’ll fall behind quickly. Attending the weekly tutorials is a must to further understand what you’re learning.


If your professor is Pesando, you’ll find he is helpful and his lectures will be entertaining and easy to follow. But watch out for his tests, which are composed of difficult MC and true/false/uncertain questions. Give yourself a couple of days to thoroughly go through past tests and learn everything until it’s drilled into your brain. Whether you study that hard or not, if your first test (bell curve alert!) turns out bad, figure out what you need to fix and get help, and be sure to visit the Economics Study Centre on St. George Street.

 

THE MEH

MAT133Y1-Y: Calculus and Linear Algebra for Commerce

Professor: Tate

Note that this is one of the first-year Rotman courses. If Tate is teaching you, she’ll teach straightforwardly and gladly answers any questions you may have. It’s really not that difficult of a course since a majority of the material is essentially a review of grade 11 and 12 mathematics.


You learn in chapters from which homework is assigned, take a couple of tests, have a midterm and then a final. Avoid missing tutorials, because they keep you up to speed in practicing what you learned in the lectures. Every week, you have quizzes that get harder as the year goes on, and they take the top 10 out of the 15 taken to count towards your final mark.


If you practice problem-solving with your materials as well as past tests and exams until it comes to you automatically (or, well, as close to that as you can get), you’ll be good to go!


SOC101Y1-Y: Introduction to Sociology

Professors: Caron (and Brym)

Big class sizes mean a pretty straightforward curriculum. Expect to do a lot of reading, which can become taxing if you don’t keep up. Lectures are straight from the textbook, but Caron still manages to be a kind, helpful and engaging professor with an endearing French accent.


You kind of have to go to lectures if you want to get those iClicker participation marks. Make some friends in class so you can confer on answers for those questions, as well as on the online homework, which can also be done if you just do your readings. Know your way around multiple choice and this course will be a breeze. Tutorials are all geared towards working on your year-long Content Analysis project, which is pretty simple if you follow instructions.

And please don’t talk too loudly in Con Hall—that shit carries, and you will be loathed by strangers.

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