June 12, 2019 by Areeb Athar
Future Mustang – congratulations on accepting your Western offer!
While you’ve hardly had the time to soak in the end of your high-school journey, the time has come to start planning your next chapter. With so many courses to offer, planning out your schedule can be daunting; to try and help, the PBSN team thought we’d share some of our own experiences. From our personal favourite courses, to miscellaneous tips and tidbits that may clarify this entire process, we’ve got you covered.
While this can seem like an intimidating process, try not to worry too much. No matter your choices, we’re all sure that you’ll be able to make the most of your first year experience. Don’t be afraid about enrolling in unconventional courses – you never know which may turn out to be your favourite!
Every one of us is here to help – If you see a course that you were potentially interested in, or have any questions or inquiries regarding Western or first-year in general, reach out! Through Facebook or email, we’d all love to discuss our experience in more detail :)
Finally, be sure to join the 2023 PBSN group for updates and more exciting things to come this summer. Happy planning!
Like what seems to be the case for many, I didn’t foresee my favourite course. I don’t really know what I expected for MIT1020, but I never thought that a university course could immediately change the way I critically analyzed so many things around me – from the societal effect of power structures, how and why things are represented in specific ways in the media, or why technology changes the way we think. Combined with the dynamic lectures, with countless media pieces and examples, the course offered many different aspects which kept it engaging throughout the year (i.e. – when part of an exam was based on a Black Mirror episode).
As a result, I would definitely attest that everyone tries courses that tests your thinking in different ways – not necessarily just what may seem “helpful” or “applicable” on the surface. Also, along with a variety of courses, is a variety of testing styles. When exam season comes around, you probably won’t have the best time having to exclusively either cram for multiple choice, or repeatedly write 10 page essays.
I had a love hate relationship with Business 1220, but it was still by far my favourite course. To be fully transparent, the course was hard. I spent more time doing homework for this class than all my other classes combined. Tests are four hours long and the averages are ~70%. However, the smaller class size gives you an opportunity to make 30-40 friends also interested in business. You develop an actual relationship with your professor, an Ivey alumni that can speak to you about their experiences. The teaching style is quick and interactive, allowing you to truly learn so much about business and the case method. Overall it’s an amazing experience that shows you what Ivey is like and whether it’s right for you.
Out of all of my courses, History of Business was definitely my favourite. You’ll be surprised by how much you can learn about an event or phenomenon by reverting back to its origin; this course was incredible both in terms of the depth of its content and the caliber of its lecturers. Each week, we explored and debated relevant events such as the 2008 Financial Crisis and the rise of corporations. Unlike courses that focus on the application of theory, History of Business dives deep into the human psyche and encourages you to think critically about modern business. I was able to apply what I learned to courses such as Polisci 1020, Business 1220 and MOS 1023 as well!
My favorite course this year was Political Science 1020. After one year at Western, the single most important academic advice I can give is to take courses you think you would actually enjoy, instead of filling your schedule with “bird” courses.
Being a huge enthusiast of Canadian, American, and international politics myself, I found Poli Sci 1020 to be a particularly exciting and rewarding experience. I learned more about the fundamental theories that surround modern-day political science- communism, capitalism, socialism, feminism, environmentalism – you mention it. We also learned more about how the state was first formed, and the various philosophical rationales for having a judiciary, legislature, and an executive. We had 2 essays throughout the year and 4 multiple choice exams. These were pretty straightforward- make sure to thoroughly study and understand the concepts explained in lecture and you should be good. If you end up getting Professor Narain, you will definitely be in good hands. He is, by far, the best prof I have had in first-year.
My favourite course during first year was easily Business 1220 – due to the high energy environment fostered by the professors. And of course, I couldn’t forget that the 1220 professors are outstanding teachers – and especially well fitting for first year. For me, Business was the course I learnt the most and it gave me even more exposure to the case method. As well, as someone who has to be engaged in class to actually learn, it was optimal for my learning style. Overall, I’d highly recommend Business 1220 to anyone who has even a small interested in business – not necessarily just pre-Ivey – because it’s a fun, exciting and engaging start to first year.
My favourite course would have to be CS 1026, solely because it was so applicable.
In school, we often take so many courses where we have a difficult time connecting what we learn inside the classroom and what we can apply to our everyday lives. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case for this course, even for those who have never coded before! This intro-level Python teaches the fundamentals of programming and even allows students to begin automating some small tasks in their everyday lives! Additionally, 45% of the course consists of assignments and labs – tasks which can be worked on over multiple days before the due date. With so much emphasis placed on experiential learning, this course provides ample opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them with the help of students, TAs and professors.
Overall, if you have any interest in technology or would like to learn the basics of a valuable hard skill, I highly encourage you to take this course. There are plenty of resources, both on-campus and online, to help you succeed!
Geography 1500: Environment and Developmental Challenges was hands down my favourite course. It genuinely challenged my perception of some of the world’s biggest problems such as climate change, energy use, and persistent hunger, and inequality. Furthermore, taking Geo1500 and Business1220 concurrently forced me to think critically about the impact that industry and policy had on people and the environment. While both courses were similar in format as they were taught using the case method and consisted of participation, they had wildly different approaches to problem-solving. Also, as an added bonus, since there was a piano in the lecture hall and because my professor was a very cool lady, there were times where she randomly broke into song in the middle of class. My favourite was her “Anti-Capitalist Waltz”.
My favourite course this year was Scholar’s Electives, an interdisciplinary course, which is taken as an additional 0.5 credit. As a PPE (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) student, I would argue that it is important to have a broad-based liberal arts foundation, especially for future studies in business and law. This course was positioned at the intersection of a variety of cross-era social scientific, scientific and artistic topics, which is great for students who took courses across a multitude of disciplines in high school. Each week with Professor De Looze, we would dissect heavy topics including determinalism, structuralism, and resemblance and investigate how a variety of disciplines can culminate in a modest exploration of the human experience. Because evaluations are based in-part on participation, rigorous class debates and informal study groups were breeding grounds for academic learning. My final essay on “Instilling a Habit of Empathy for Marginalized and Unacquainted Identities” was the first time I ever interrogated my own identity, and that’s precisely what the intention of the course is: attempting to answer “what” we know, and “how” we know that’s what we know. It also helps that some of my best friends were made through Scholar’s, too!
I would highly recommend Business 1220E. Throughout first year I found that Business 1220 was a course that constantly revolved around the classroom experience. The case based approach to learning keeps you engaged in class and participation is facilitated by young and enthusiastic professors. Moreover, Business 1220 was my first introduction to fundamental business concepts and constructs such as a balance sheets and income statements. Not only was the course material relevant, but I found the focus on application rather than memorization a refreshing and enjoyable experience.
While my first year was filled with a lot of interesting courses, I really liked MATH 1228 (BUS 1220 was my favourite but I’m pretty sure other people have already talked about it). I’m not a huge fan of math (and stayed away from Calculus first year) but found 1228 to be more logic-based and interesting. The course is a great introduction to statistics and teaches you combinations, permutations, and normal/standard distribution (aka the bell curve). Through the material, you can learn to determine the number of total ways something can occur, and the probability of a certain situation happening. It’s easy to see how the concepts taught in lecture apply to the real world, and I sometimes find myself using them to make more informed decisions. From a grading perspective, the course’s mark allocation is quite generous, and the exams are relatively simple if you have a good understanding of the content, which means even non-math students (such as myself) can still attain strong marks in this course. You aren’t allowed to use a calculator in exams – that shows just how non-mathy MATH 1228 truly is!
Additional Things to Consider
Draft My Schedule is the key to success when picking courses! Before officially enrolling in your courses, draft a schedule to visually plan out what your schedule can look like. It will also tell you about the prerequisites/antirequisites or course conflicts you may have. Depending on when your enrollment time is, some course times may already be full when it comes time to select, messing up your entire plan. To mitigate this, create a backup schedule or two, especially if you have a later selection time: https://draftmyschedule.uwo.ca/login.cf
“High school started at 8 every morning, and I did that for four years – morning classes will be no problem at all”, right? Wrong. While it’s definitely possible, the overwhelming opinion is that making it to morning classes, living at residence or otherwise, is a lot harder than it seems. You might find that later-than-expected nights are more regular than you think, with mornings where you just want to sleep in, so think carefully before filling up all your mornings.
Night Classes – James
When picking courses, night classes are a potential option to avoid overlapping class times and nightmare schedules. I took CS 1032 as a night course, which meant that there was only one lecture a week (but it was three hours long). For me, it was hard to stay focused the whole time (especially because there was only one 5-minute break), and often found myself nodding off towards the end. In addition, there were times where I had to skip class because of extra-curricular activities – since most club-activities occur in the evening, taking a night class may make scheduling a challenge. If you are a night owl, however, or prefer to focus on a single topic for a longer period of time, then night classes might be a good fit – just make sure you consider both the pros and cons.
Back to Back Classes
When making my schedule, I was confused about whether I could put classes back to back; if one class ends at 2:30, how would I be able to walk to my next class, beginning at that same time, without being late? In reality, classes are dismissed 10 minutes earlier than scheduled. That means you can usually take back-to-back classes comfortably, and avoid awkward hour-long gaps in your schedule. However, it may be valuable to check this campus map beforehand, to avoid having to sprint across Western’s massive campus in just 10 minutes: www.geography.uwo.ca/campusmaps/images/map/westernandaffiliates.pdf
“Bird” Courses – Sonya
Don’t worry, you’re not alone – like most incoming first years, I spent a lot of time on Facebook groups and online forums looking for “bird” courses. From what I heard, I ended up taking Astronomy. Unfortunately, despite what I read regarding its easiness, the course was really tough for me to get interested in. Most people I knew who also took this course as a “bird” struggled, as it became difficult to put time into studying. This is a story I’ve heard time and time again from other courses as well (ie. Film courses, Women studies, CS1032, Earth Rocks). However, this is not to say people don’t do amazingly well in these courses – you might just find that you end up doing far more work for courses, which you actually develop a genuine interest for.
Some Extra Facts
- In order to go to Ivey, you do not need to fulfill your breadth requirements; if that’s your goal, you can worry about fulfilling these later!
- The A and B at the end of a course code indicates no difference for the course themselves – A just means first semester, while B is second! Courses with E at the end indicate that it is an essay course and will include written testing, lasting the whole year. Finally, F and G also indicate an essay course, lasting only one semester.
- Courses which have an A or B at the end (or F & G) are 0.5 credits (half a year, or one semester). Other courses last both semesters, and are 1.0 credit. For a full schedule, you must fulfill a total of 5.0 credits over the year (Five 0.5 credits each semester)
Western Buildings and their acronyms (What does SH, NCB, etc. stand for)
Enroll for classes here (Academics > Enroll in Classes)