August 4, 2016 by Katherine Tang

You’re about to make your first decision on what your university life is gonna look like. Anxious, confused, and bombarded with way too many choices, all while wondering how reading Goldilocks can be a course in university… we’ve been there. The PBSN VP team is here to break it all down for you. From our personal experiences, our insider tricks to the #TaylorLibraryorDie life, to the course-picking best practices, we’ll give you a run-down on (almost) everything you need to know.


Module: Political Science

Courses taken:

  • Political Science 1020
  • Business 1220
  • Math 1225
  • Computer Science 1026
  • Microeconomics 1021
  • Macroeconomics 1022
  • Scholar’s Electives
  • French 1910

Favourite course: Business 1220


Business 1220 uses the Ivey Case Method, and in my opinion, this made the class more engaging, entertaining, and frankly educational than any of my other lecture-based courses. Analyzing a real-world business problem, proposing solutions, and then learning what the business actually did ensured that there was never a dull moment in class. If you’re thinking of going on to study at Ivey, I would definitely recommend this course – it’s not a must, but it will show you what the average class at Ivey will look like!

At the beginning of the year, you were set on pursuing Economics. In the middle of September though, you decided to go with Poli Sci instead – what convinced you?

I came to Western thinking of doing a dual degree between Economics and Ivey, but after learning about the requirements for a career in consulting, I realized that it would be more beneficial to just go for my HBA! With that in my mind, I wanted to make sure that I enjoyed what I studied in my first two years. After seeing the class structure of Economics compared to Political Science, I immediately knew that the more interactive, tutorial-based Poli Sci course was just a better fit for me. I made the switch, and haven’t looked back since!


Module: First Year General Engineering

Courses taken:

  • Linear Algebra with Numerical Analysis for Engineers – APPLMATH 1411
  • Applied Math for Engineers 1 – APPLMATH 1413
  • Chemistry – CHEM 1302
  • Microecon – ECONOMIC 1021
  • Macroecon – ECONOMIC 1022
  • Properties of Materials – ES 1021
  • Engineering Statics – ES 1022Y
  • Programming Fundamentals for Engineers – ES 1036A
  • Introductory Engineering Design and Innovation Studio – ES 1050
  • Physics I – 1401
  • Physics II – 1402

Favourite course: Introductory Engineering Design and Innovation Studio – ES 1050


While many engineers might disagree with my choice, I have to say that Engineering Design was one of my favorite courses I’ve taken this year, definitely a different type of course compared to the other more numerical and analytical heavy courses that we engineers are usually accustomed. Its project based curriculum allowed for many fun and creative moments, truly letting the creative spirit of engineering fly freely while the presentations and reports, while at times tedious, allowed for exposure to some essential communication skills. While many of the courses are taught with focus on a specific subject, Engineering Design specifically flies against that concept and tries to draw together every course you take, filling in the nooks and crannies of what the engineering discipline is and what engineers do.

Engineering has a notoriously tough workload – you guys get around 30 hours of class time, whereas the rest of us average around 20. How do you handle it?

I was talking to the Professor Bartlett, the Associate Dean of Engineering, and he had a great quote (which I will try to paraphrase), “Engineering is mainly a test of your time management abilities”. As the year went on, that phrase became more and more true. It is a very challenging program that requires you to balance your extra curriculars, social life and a large academic workload. But you probably already know that. Or think that you have great time management skills already. So let me give you something a bit more concrete. Go study in the Undergraduate Engineering Society (UES) lounge in the Spencer Engineering building (SEB). Seriously, go do it! You might find it intimidating at first with all the upper years hanging around but go introduce yourself and say hi! They won’t bite, I promise. It’s not only a great space to study and chill with friends, you’ll meet a lot of upper years that will give you great advice on courses, professors and tips. Engineering is a team sport and while it is possible to complete the courses on your own, it’ll be a whole lot easier with the advice and knowledge of upper years.


Module: Computer Science

Courses taken:

  • Business – BUSINESS1220E
  • Computer Science – COMPSCI1026
  • Computer Science – COMPSCI1027
  • Information Systems and Design – COMPSCI1032
  • Intro to Multimedia and Communications – COMPSCI1033
  • Calculus – CALC1000
  • Calculus – CALC1301
  • Principle of Microeconomics – ECONOMIC 1021A
  • Principle of Macroeconomics – ECONOMIC 1022B

Favourite course: Calc 1301


Because math is interesting when you have a lit teacher and my teacher was lit (shoutout to Kapulkin). Class was fun, and the material was not too hard but also not too easy so it was in an enjoyable middle ground and I liked that.

You took quite a few computer science courses this semester – could you tell us a bit about what typically goes down in a computer science lab?

For Computer Science courses that deal with coding (like 1026 and 1027), you’re given a task to complete and you have to fill in the code to perform that task. Sometimes the computer will check if it’s correct or not for you, and other times the TAs will come check it themselves. The TAs are very helpful during the labs and you are more than welcome to ask them for help.

For Computer Science 1033, which dealt with multimedia (like Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Flash, and Audacity), you are provided with a set of detailed instructions for each lab that walk you through exactly what to do step-by-step. The best way to learn is by doing, and so these instructions are very helpful in teaching you how to use each of the applications, because you get to play around with the software.


Module: Psychology + Scholar’s Electives

Courses taken:

  • Introduction to Linguistics – ANTHRO1027
  • Business – BUSINESS1220E
  • Python – COMPSCI1026
  • Microeconomics – ECON1021
  • Macroeconomics – ECON1022
  • French – FRENCH1910
  • Industrial/Organizational Psychology – PSYCH2660
  • Scholars’ Electives Seminar – SCHOLARS1100
  • Intro to Statistics – STATS1024

Favourite Course: Business 1220


Totally loved the relevance of the cases we did in class – a lot of the businesses were brands we interacted with or have heard of in the news, and each case gave me insight into a new industry (whether it was food, transportation, or military apparel manufacturing.) I also really enjoyed the interactivity of each session and learning from my peers through discussion rather than a dictated lecture!

Most Business 1220 classes are structured into three 1-hour sessions, on Monday, Wednesday, Friday. You, however, took the night class section that occurs once a week for 3 hours – what was your experience like with that unconventional choice?

In 1220, you learn through case studies, and being in night class meant that I could completely prepare for a case and then cover it from start to finish in one class, giving me a more immersive experience than the day class students. It also meant that I didn’t have to worry about 1220 every other day of the week. The night class is generally more chill, which also means that there are more opportunities to participate (which is key since participation is 10% of your grade). That being said, there are also several disadvantages. Although there is a 10-15 minute break halfway during the class, some people found it difficult to stay concentrated and engaged for 3 hours. There’s also a greater learning curve with night class, because you don’t get the luxury of slowly being introduced to a new topic over a span of shorter, more frequent classes – everything sort of gets thrown at you during one evening session. The decision really depends on your learning style, but if you’re a night owl and can learn quickly, I’d definitely recommend the 1220 evening course!


Module: Consumer Behaviour – MOS

Courses taken:

  • CompSci 1033 – Intro to Multimedia and Communications
  • MATH 1228 – Methods of Finite Math
  • MATH 1229 – Methods of Matrix Algebra
  • MOS 1021 – Intro to Consumer Behaviour and HR
  • MOS 1023 – Intro to Accounting and Finance
  • MUSIC 1122 – Fundamentals of Music Theory
  • PSYCH 1000 – Intro to Psych
  • SOC 1020 – Intro to Sociology

My fave course: SOC 1020


While I got annihilated with Luton’s exams, I think SOC 1020 was one of the only courses that made going to lectures something to look forward to. It is undeniably hard, but truth be told, I learned so much about my own thoughts on society- it’s one of the only few courses that aren’t “pump and dump” (aka: learn, repeat long enough for the exam, then forget). I think university is ultimately about challenging your existing thought patterns, and while some of these courses may not give you the best grades, I think you can’t really call yourself a university student until you take a course that is outside your comfort zone.

We all know that as a foodie from Vancouver, Andro knows the best spots to hit up for a yummy meal. What are your favourite spots to grab a bite in between your classes?

Usually I make an effort to go to a nearby res for food. While food at UCC is convenient, it is unreasonably pricey (because you can’t apply your res-discount), and the food doesn’t change. Stick around long enough, and you’ll find yourself having tried every single thing available in UCC. With res, you always get variations, especially when you jump around, and it’s a lot more friendly on your meal plan. It’s also nice to have an excuse to make some friends in every residence

Ontario Hall and Delaware Hall has some of the best res food in my opinion. That aside, I’m always game for some Bento Sushi Udon… it’s one of the only fixes to my lack of Asian food!!


Module: Accounting – BMOS

Courses I took:

  • Business 1220E
  • Microeconomics 1021
  • Macroeconomics 1022
  • MOS 1021
  • MOS 1023
  • Political Science 1020E
  • Math 1229
  • Math 1225

My fave course: Political Science 1020E


In all honesty, I hated polisci in first semester. It was a bunch of history, and I wasn’t interested. However, the course does a complete 180°in second semester, and spends more time focusing on current events. I think this course is great because you get a chance to see two different “sides” to political science in first and second semester, so you can decide what you’d like to pursue in later years. Plus, it’s a mix of both essays and multiple choice, which can help to stabilize your mark if you’re better/worse at either of those.

Sometimes, you have classes back to back, from one end of the campus to the other. As the tallest guy on our team, how feasible was it for you to make the trek?

As somebody who is 6’4″, I find I’m able to book it from one side of campus to the other in about 14 minutes… However, I don’t recommend this approach. What I did was have my first two classes of the day back-to-back (they were about a 2 minute walk from each other), and then a 1 hour break for lunch, and then my last class. Obviously classes won’t always work out this way, but sometimes it’s nice to have a bit of a break to eat! At the same time, watch out for “wasted” time if you have uneven breaks in your schedule – having a number of 90 minute breaks makes it hard to get any work done during them because just as you find a spot in the library, you have to go to your next class.


Module: English & Global Studies (Huron)

Courses I took:

  • Business – Business 1220E
  • Microeconomics 1021
  • Macroeconomics 1022
  • Children’s Literature 2033E
  • Poetics 2230
  • CGS1021, 1022, 1023

My fave course: Poetics 2230G


I had a great professor who was incredibly engaging.

I found the course to be one that had great content just like a lot of my others, but having Dr. Pero just made it an amazing experience. I’m purposefully choosing courses based on the fact that he’s teaching them this coming year!

You took a pretty good blend of Huron and Main campus courses this year – what were some differences that you noticed between them?

Main campus courses tend to have less help from professors. I find that at Huron and other affiliates there’s no “escape” from getting to know your teacher. Everyone knows eachother and it’s really weird if you don’t participate in class. For that reason, I like to get to know my professors (no matter the campus) really well, as I find that it makes it a lot easier to enjoy the classes themselves. At an affiliate, you are able to take main campus courses unless they are offered at your campus, in which case you are required to take them there, and the same goes coming from main campus to an affiliate college. I love being at an affiliate, but main campus courses are just as engaging!


Module: Economics

Courses I took:

  • Intro to Business – BUSINESS1220E
  • Information Systems and Design – COMPSCI1032
  • Intro to Stats – STATS1024
  • Introductory Psychology – PSYCH1000
  • Calculus I – CALC1000
  • Calculus II – CALC1301
  • Principles of Microeconomics – ECONOMIC 1021
  • Principles of Macroeconomics – ECONOMIC 1022

My fave course: Psych 1000


Psych 1000 with Dr. Mike was really engaging! The curriculum was relevant, allowed for self reflection, and was well-balanced between the biological and behavioral aspects of psychology. It was a huge class (800 ish kids) and the lecture hall would almost always be packed; something about Dr. Mike’s delivery of the material made you want to come everytime.The occasional interactive example of the phenomenon being taught was also always fun to take part in!

Eddie always has exam time under control. What are some of your tips on studying during #examszn? Do you have any prime study spots to suggest?

Exams: You truly don’t get a break during the week of a midterm; you still have classes to go to, quizzes to take, and extracurricular events to attend/organize. That’s why it is so important to start studying early! Lay out your exam and homework schedule and stick to it, and concentrate on the sections that you struggle with the most. In my opinion, the best way to study for midterms is to DO PRACTICE/PREVIOUS EXAMS. Usually, your professor will upload at least one onto OWL. If not, you can ask your peers and older students for their past exams/test banks. The previous exams are oftentimes very comparable (sometimes questions are even repeated!).

Study Spots: Both Taylor and Weldon Library are great places to study; there’s a lot of space and you can always find silent zones! However, both libraries close before midnight. For late night grinds, check out the UCC. The Mustang Lounge and empty classrooms in the basement are great for group projects. There’s also a cubicle section on the third floor, the “Fireplace” Lounge on the second floor. Also, take a look around the buildings you have classes in as there’s usually tables in random nooks on upper floors. These hidden gems are usually quiet, unoccupied, and feel more personal.


Module: Psychology + Scholar’s Electives

Courses I took:

  • Business – BUSINESS1220E
  • French – FRENCH1910
  • Computer Science – COMPSCI1026
  • Intro to Stats – STATS1024
  • Business Ethics – PHIL2074
  • Scholar’s Electives Seminar – SCHOLARS1100
  • Intro to Psychology – PSYCH1000
  • Calculus – CALC1000

My fave course: French 1910


French has always been one of my interests in high school, and I was really happy to continue the journey in university. I found it to be much more engaging than high school – I was immersed in the language four times a week in a very tight-knit class, I had an awesome prof, and it felt pretty awesome to be able to understand the teacher when she’s talking fully in another language!

You took IB in high school and had the option of taking some transfer credits – how did you make your decision?

I was eligible for transfer credits in Econ, English, and Bio, and I decided to take them all! It helped me fill out my “breadth” requirements pretty easily (Western requires you take all courses in diff subject areas in order to graduate), so I didn’t have to worry about that at all. Also, I thought that university, and especially first year, was a time for me to take courses in subjects that I may not pursue in the future, but would like to learn about. So, taking those transfer credits really gave me more elective space and let me explore stuff I would never have elsewhere, like philosophy in business ethics and coding Python! But, there are also some pretty compelling arguments for retaking those courses – not everything in those university courses were necessarily covered in AP/IB, so it could set you up with a better foundation for higher level courses, and it could help you get a higher GPA! Like so many other decisions regarding university, it all comes down for personal preference – and I think that’s totally a blessing.

Final Thoughts

On June 11, you get to start enrolling in your courses. But, you’re not “locking in” your courses by any means on that day – you can switch everything around, provided that there is space in the class, right up until classes begin (which means you can play with second semester classes until January!)!

Have fun. First year is the best time to take risks and enroll in some challenging or even wacky courses you never thought you would try. Who knows, you might even fall in love with it! Don’t let the thought of keeping up a GPA deter you from taking the courses you love – work hard, and do you.

Resources That Will Bless Your Life

What do all these acronyms mean? Here’s your resource hub:

Know your prerequisites so you know you’re on the right track:

Check out all the courses available to you (click through all the categories – you never know what gem you dig up):

Play around with your courses:

Then, lock in your courses here:

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