June 8, 2018 by Eileen Jiao

Congratulations! You’ve accepted your offer to Western and while the school year has yet to start, course enrolments are just around the corner. How do I pick which electives to take? Do I take that morning class? The PBSN VP team has prepared the ultimate course selection cheat sheet to help you conquer your first-year! We’ve given our personal experiences and answered the most common questions surrounding course selections. Enjoy!


Module: BMOS

First Year Courses:

Microeconomics 1021MOS 1021Math 1229Computer Science 1032Sociology 1021EMacroeconomics 1022MOS 1023Calculus 1000Computer Science 1033

What was your favourite course this year and why?

My favourite course last year was also the course I found most challenging. I took Introduction to Sociology (SOC1021E) on a whim during course selections and I’m so glad that I did. Since it is a survey course, the prof covered all facets of Sociology and I started to see where sociological concepts were applied in my everyday life, which was extremely interesting for me. Sociology was also a good break from the MOS and econ courses and to my advantage, the concepts in sociology helped me understand concepts in my other courses as well! Any sociology course has its difficulties and for me, I found that the exams were often ambiguous and no matter how much I thought I knew the content, the exams would still trip me up. Though it was difficult, I definitely learned the most through this course and it is one of the few courses where I apply the concepts learned in my everyday life.

You did not take Business 1220 last year, what was the thought process behind this?

Prior to university, I had taken every business course offered at my high school and I thought I had a good general understanding of the different topics in business. I was also pretty confident in my public speaking skills and decided that it (hopefully) wouldn’t hinder my participation later on in 2257. After talking with a couple of my friends who had taken the course, I decided not to take it so I could explore my interests outside of business. I was able to do this, especially with sociology! That being said, almost all of my friends said that bus 1220 was their favourite course in first-year and the one that they learned the most in.


Module: Health Sciences

First Year Courses:

Microeconomics 1021Statistics 1023Geography 1400GHealth Science 1001Business 1220EMacroeconomics 1022Statistics 1024Computer Science 1033Health Science 1002

What was your favourite course this year and why?

My favourite course this year was Business 1220 for so many reasons. Structure-wise, Business 1220 is taught using the case study method. Coming to university I knew what that meant but actually experiencing how engaging it is and its merits as a learning method was a very enjoyable experience and a fun change in tempo from my other courses. Regarding content, getting a good understanding of the main areas of business was something I really wanted to do in my first year. At the end of 1220, I truly felt like I was able to do so and even get a feel for what areas of business I wanted to pursue in the future, seeing as they interested me so much in class. Most importantly though, the atmosphere was the absolute best. Being surrounded by your peers from all different disciplines who are curious about business and being encouraged to share your thoughts and participate, is not only a great way to meet new friends, but also an experience that will help you grow as a person.

You took a variety of courses last year, what was your approach to enrolling in courses?

When picking courses, I really use my interest as my guiding principle! University is a fantastic opportunity to choose from so many exciting courses and I think the diversity of my courses simply reflected what I was curious about and wanted to explore.

What I think a lot of students don’t realize is that, when having a variety of courses, if you’re looking for it, you’ll actually be able to find a lot of fascinating connections between the courses – giving you a comprehensive, fluid and unique learning experience. With a diversity of courses, I was able to approach each course a little differently. Within my health studies classes, I could view concepts from a health studies lens, but also understand it from a geographic and economic standpoint. My knowledge in statistics really helped me interpret and evaluate the validity of academic studies used in geography and both my health studies courses. Collectively, all my courses worked together to deepen my understanding of each course on its own, allowing me to experience a lot of valuable synergies which was a rewarding experience.


Module: Health Sciences

First Year Courses:

Health Science 1001Chemistry 1301Biology 1201Physics 1028Math 1229Health Science 1002Chemistry 1302Biology 1202Computer Science 1033Earth Science 1086

What was your favourite course this year and why?

While almost all my courses were science-based, the one that really stuck out for me was Health Sciences 1001 – Personal Determinants of Health! The course focused on various aspects of health and wellness, and delved deeper into mental health, chronic diseases, substance abuse, nutrition, fitness, etc. As someone who enjoys real-life applications when it comes to learning content, this was something I highly valued in contrast to my theory-heavy courses. I would 100% recommend this course to students in any faculty interested in learning more about the constructs of health from a personal perspective. P.S it’s also not difficult to do really well in if you take a bit of time to understand all the content!

Help! I created a schedule before my enrollment time and when it was time for me to enroll in them, the class(es) I planned for were already full. Do you have any advice in regards to this?

#1 tip to avoid this scenario completely is to make multiple drafts of your schedule! You don’t know your exact enrollment time until close to the date, and if you end up with a late time, your schedule could turn out entirely different than you had hoped. To make sure you that you don’t have to make a less than perfect schedule last minute, make multiple variations of your schedule that you are happy with beforehand.

But, if you still end up with a class or two that are full for the time you wanted, enroll for them in another time slot. For larger classes (speaking just for the science courses, in my case), the content is identical, so you can actually usually just go to whichever lecture is more convenient for you, or the time slot at which a professor you like is teaching.

If you’re like me, though, and like to go by your schedule, enroll in the less suitable times for the meanwhile. People routinely drop courses, especially in the first week of classes, so if you keep checking your Student Center, you should be able to get back into your planned time (fingers crossed!).


Module: Astrophysics + Financial Economics

First Year Courses:

Business 1220Calculus 1000Physics 1301Linear Algebra 1600Spanish 1030Calculus 1501Physics 1302Computer Science 1032

What was your favourite course this year and why?

Spanish 1030 was by far the most fun and engaging course in first-year. I loved high school and the fact that there were only twenty students in my class made me feel like I was in grade ten again. Since language requires participation and involvement with your peers, you develop strong lasting relationships with the students you meet in this class. In fact, I made two of my closest friends through Spanish 1030! On top of that, I took French all four years of high school and a lot of the grammatical structure in Spanish is similar and easy to follow *cough* guess the right answer *cough*. Not only was the course fun and easy, but it was like a breath of fresh air, something that took me away from the fast-paced stressful life of university.

When picking your courses, did you have to factor in the times that you would be dedicating to extracurriculars and other endeavours you took part in during the school year?

One thing I would advise you about is to be wary of night classes. Oftentimes these will clash with meetings, events, or preferable intramural sports times! Be cognizant of this moving forward! I had three night classes first semester and I didn’t have any second semester allowing me to thoroughly pursue extracurricular activities! You don’t want to restrict yourself right off the bat because I assure you, you’ll regret the things you DON’T do, more so than the things you eventually take a leap of faith and decide to do. First-year is all about trying new things and getting to know yourself. Join that club, play that sport, go to that conference, cause you will ALWAYS get something out of it; you just may not know it at the time.


Module: Specialization in Economics

First Year Courses:

Microeconomics 1021Philosophy 1020Math 1229Business 1220Macroeconomics 1022Political Science 1020Calculus 1000

What was your favourite course this year and why?

Aside from finance, I am also very interested in politics and world affairs. That’s why I took Politics 1020: An Introduction to Political Theory. If you’re interested in politics and the theories, histories, and individuals that shape it, you will absolutely LOVE this course. It’s a great introduction to the major theories and thinkers of Western political philosophy, and it provides a great deal of insight into the history of political thought. Overall, it’s a stellar course that provides a great deal of insight into the way our world is structured and functions, as well as the archetypes and ideas that shape the ways in which we think.

On another note, the way you think about the concepts and structures presented in this course is very important. Politics is very thematic; each theory or perspective can often be summarized by a single word or phrase. Adopting a thematic mindset will allow you to better understand how the ideas of individual thinkers and sub-theories are connected and related to the overarching theme.

Lastly, tutorials are a blast. If you have a good section, everyone is engaged in the discussion and the classroom becomes a salon for the exchange of ideas and the development of arguments (the philosophical, not the verbal, kind—however, those can develop too).

What are your thoughts about taking a course twice a week for an hour each class versus taking that course once a week for a longer period of time?

In regard to the “one hour/two times a week vs. two hours/once a week” debate—completely dependent upon your preferences. You’ll also find that the “importance” of attending certain classes is dependent upon how well you understand the material and the insight your instructor provides into said material. You’ll find that, for some classes, your professor will merely repeat the information found in the textbook, and will not be much of a value-add to your learning experience. However, in some classes (1220 is the big one) where attendance is mandatory or the professor is very insightful (or gives out exam questions in class) you must make sure you attend every class, are attentive and pay attention to detail. That being said, I loved having a 3-hour block of econ once a week, and the class frequently ended early as well.


Module: BMOS

First Year Courses:

Business 1220MOS 1021Math 1229Psychology 1000Sociology 1020MOS 1023Math 1225

What was your favourite course this year and why?

My favourite course this year had to be Sociology 1020. To put some context into how I chose my courses, I based it a lot on my interests and what subjects I knew I would struggle to study well. Many social science electives weren’t offered at my high school and I was never the best at economics, so I really had no idea what I was getting into when I took sociology. Yes, there’s heaps of (convoluted) reading for this course, but it’s really taught me to think deeper about why things the way they are and should we accept them for the way that they are. I don’t think I realized how valuable and transferable this way of thinking was until I started writing my marketing report for BUS1220.

Where is your go-to study spot on campus?

When I really need to block out distractions for two or four hours of good productivity, I usually study at the Taylor Library lower ground cubicles. When it comes to finishing my readings, I need absolute silence so I can hear myself read and think. Sometimes, I’ll need a change of scenery, so I also really liked studying at the communal tables upstairs in the UCC. If anything, really nail down what your ideal study environment is when you come to university. For myself, I’ve come to understand that I’m someone who can’t study in her own room; I’m too tempted to take a nap in my bed when I study in my room.


Module: Specialization in Economics

First Year Courses:

Microeconomics 1021Math 1229Calculus 1001Computer Science 1026Business 1220Macroeconomics 1022Math 1228Calculus 1301Compsci 1033

What was your favourite course this year and why?

Business 1220 was hands down my favourite class. There are so many reasons I could list as to why its the best first year course, but to be brief I’ll keep it to two: class atmosphere and learning style. In terms of the atmosphere, 1220 is great because everyone within your class will end up knowing one another which makes coming to class much more enjoyable. Moreover, my unbelievable prof Raza would always make sure lessons were never dull by constantly throwing humour and even memes into our class’ slide decks. In short, the class is actually fun, and considering how many other dry courses exist, it’s really nice to know you’re in for an unbelievable lecture. Despite the great atmosphere, I believe the learning style is really what made 1220 for me. The case method really pushes you to actually think because no scenario you encounter is ever the same and no answer is necessarily wrong. For me this makes class, which is participation based, even better because everyone will constantly debate decisions facing companies which really allows you to actively understand the subject material and immediately apply it. Bus 1220 teaches you an incredible amount about business as whole and does so in a really engaging and enjoyable way. I would highly recommend taking it.

How did you manage to keep your cool when you had exams scheduled closely in a period of time?

It’s not uncommon at Western to have the majority of your exams scheduled in a really short period of time. My second semester featured four exams in just under a week. While this may sound fairly daunting, it can become significantly more manageable if you take a proactive approach to studying and start early. Leading up to exams, you’ll generally have two or three weeks of really light work. It is absolutely essential to use these weeks to study despite the seemingly distant date of exams. As for myself, I find it helps to set up daily goals on a schedule. This helps you take exam season day-by-day, which makes it much more manageable and considerably less stressful. It also keeps you on track so that you won’t have to stress about last minute cramming.


Module: Specialization in Economics

First Year Courses:

Microeconomics 1021Political Science 1020Math 1229Philosophy 1020Macroeconomics 1022Business 1220Calculus 1000

What was your favourite course this year and why?

Although Intro to Philosophy was one of my more difficult courses, it was still one of my favourites this year. I had taken a philosophy course in high school and, after enjoying this high school course, I decided I would take a university level philosophy course. Throughout the year, students taking Intro to Philosophy had to write four essays. Writing these essays could sometimes be very frustrating (as I’m sure one could imagine – this is philosophy we’re talking about here). It is important to note, though, that the process of writing these essays taught me how to ask the right questions and how to concisely write out my thoughts. This course helped me learn how to think and write more effectively, which is why I am very glad that I took it this year.

What is your opinion on back-to-back classes? Is this something I should factor in when creating my schedule?

Before I start, it’s important that students know that classes end 10 minutes earlier than scheduled. This usually gives students enough time to get from class to class if they have a back-to-back. Also, keep in mind that there is no right answer to this question. I would recommend that students see what works best for them once first semester is over.

To answer this question though, in my opinion, I think having back-to-back classes allows you to utilize your time more efficiently. If classes are one hour apart, for example, it’s probable that most students won’t use their time too efficiently in this small gap. For starters, it usually takes a bit of time (at least 15 minutes if you’re like myself) for students to get into a session of deep focus. What works best for me is having all of my classes in one or two chunks of the day. Following this scheduling strategy takes away the time that I would have spent not being productive between classes.


Module: Specialization in Economics

First Year Courses:

Microeconomics 1021Hindi 1030Business 1220Computer Science 1033Macroeconomics 1022Calculus 1000Computer Science 1026Computer Science 1032

What was your favourite course this year and why?

My favourite course was, surprisingly enough, the one I had the least expectations from. Entering first-year my upper-year friends all told me that CS1032 was a bird course and therefore a must-take. I was surprised to find that not only did I enjoy the course, but it was also incredibly useful for my current internship. The course teaches students about Excel, Access, SQL, and E-R Diagrams at a beginner’s level – it’s known as “the computer science for business kids.” For someone who was entering the year with minimum knowledge of all of the above, it allowed me to broaden my horizon in a fun and captivating way. The best part was that it positioned me really well for my internship since I knew the basics of Excel and dealing with large databases.

The adjustment from high school to university is often difficult (and a long one!), what was most difficult for you, and how did you overcome it?

Entering a new stage of life while being away from home, your closest friends, and family can really put a person out of their element. I was lucky to have my best friend from high school along my side, but even then it was nerve-wracking in the months leading up to O-Week. I had no idea who my friends would be, where I’d find them, and most of all, if I’d find friends I genuinely connected with. But within my first week at Western, I realized that building a new support system isn’t as hard as it seems. I joined all the clubs I could think of, bonded with my floormates, and reconnected with some old friends. Before I knew it, Western was home. So since hindsight is 20-20, my one piece of advice would be to put yourselves out there. Whether it ’s joining that interesting club on campus (shameless PBSN plug) or befriending your next door neighbour, it never really hurts to meet new people!


Module: BMOS

First Year Courses:

Microeconomics 1021MOS 1021Math 1229Business 1220Earth Science 1022Macroeconomics 1022MOS 1023Calculus 1000Compsci 1033

What was your favourite course this year and why?

Earth Science 1022 was probably my favourite course this year. Content wise it was very different, so it was a really nice break from my other classes. It was probably the only course where I had no prior knowledge about the material being taught, so I found lectures interesting as I was always learning something new. The prof was also super interesting and engaging, you could tell the topic was something she was really passionate about.

What was the earliest and latest class you took this year and how did you approach creating your schedule based on class times?

The earliest class I took was Math 1229, which started at 9:30 am and the latest class I took was Calc 1000, which ended at 9:00 pm. In terms of creating my schedule, I didn’t want to have too many morning classes or classes that were too late in the evening. It just so happened that the times for these 2 classes were the only ones the worked with my schedule, so I didn’t have much of a choice. I would recommend avoiding too many evening classes, a lot of clubs have meetings/event in the evenings so it might take some of those opportunities away.

Final Word

Course selections can be a little daunting at first but the entire VP team hopes that our experiences will help set you up for success in the upcoming year. First-year is an exciting time but don’t be afraid to take risks and enroll in a course you never knew thought you wanted to take. It might turn out to be your favourite course!

If you have any other questions about course selections or Western life in general, feel free to reach out to anyone on the VP team and we’d be happy to tell you more about our experiences. Good luck and go kill it!

Useful Resources

Can’t figure out which buildings SEB or NCB are? Refer to this list of all Western buildings and their associated acronyms:

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:

When your enrollment time comes, log onto Student Center and click “Open Enrollment dates” on the right-hand side of the page:

Prepare in advance! Western’s campus is huge and may take more than the 10 minutes between a back-to-back class to get from one building to another. Use this campus map to help you plan wisely:

Related posts