By Jerry Xiao

Hi there, this is Jerry Xiao from the University of Toronto. Mr. Berg wants me to talk about my perceptions about university, and also, the differences with high school. I would like to examine this issue from three perspectives: teaching style, the importance of self-discipline, and some other aspects.

  • Teaching Style

Needless to say, the teaching style in high school is like teamwork between the students and teachers. If you want to do well in high school, paying attention in class and solving questions after class is the key to getting good grades. However, in University it is really hard for you to guarantee good grades merely by attending the lectures and doing the homework. Questions on the midterms or finals are based on the course coordinator. I strongly recommend preparing questions for class and you will find it easier to understand the abstract ideas. Solving past tests is also important. It helps you get a clue about how your coordinator will design the test. It is not necessary to attend lectures, it’s your choice. However, skipping class doesn’t mean you are not serious about your studies. Sometimes it is even more efficient for you to study in a library for harder questions than attending a class where the professor is only talking about some basic materials about that chapter.

Remember, the new materials given in class today must be “understood on that day or it will come after you and bite you in the future” (a quote from an Economics professor). University will provide different kinds of materials on the course website and it is your responsibility to check it every day.

Try to develop your interests. The first year of university will be a general year for the new students to figure out what major they would like to take in the second year. Some majors have really high grade requirement. For example, computer science is a hot program and each year the entrance requirements get higher and higher. If you find yourself not comfortable with the major you chose when you got your admission letter, you can switch to another major instead.

  • The importance of Self- discipline

You don’t need to attend every lecture (if there is no mark for attendance), and you could even stay up late and get up at noon the next day. Another fact is that, for one course, you could choose which lectures you want to attend (different lectures have different professors) and it is totally ok. The course usually slackens at the beginning and rushes towards the end. Homework, accompanied by other assignments will make you struggle to stay afloat. Some people will find it easy and consume more time watching movies or playing on their smart phones. What is different from high school is that one term only takes three months and then the students are tested on the course materials in the finals. It is important to regulate your schedule and make yourself a plan or timetable to promote an efficient way of study. During the final review time, some people study one course till dawn, right up to a few hours before the test and only take a short nap. It is really not a great idea to pile up all the materials and review them all a few hours before the test. And the professors even insist that “it is not strange for a student to spend 8 to 10 hours studying besides the lecture hours” every day. Quite crazy isn’t it?

Also, don’t only focus on your studies. There is a lot of fun you can find. How about hanging out with your friends on the weekends and going to see a film to treat yourself for you hard work for this week?

  • Other Parts about School Life

There are a lot of different costs included in tuition. One of them is the fee to use the school gym. It is really a great idea to jog for half an hour or just go there to swim for a while after studying. Also, school will organize trips where you can go and visit a place with other students. Also, there are other cultural events organized by various departments. For instance, the department of Spanish and Portuguese will organize some events like “The Day of the Dead” and also tango class and “Oscar Night”. These are really interesting and it is free to join. Some times some colleges in the University will even hold a chef competition. All you need is to pay 5 dollars for the entrance fee and you can taste different styles of dishes made by the chefs with one single topic (ex. pasta) and vote for your ideal chef.

These are just some parts about life in university. It really takes a lot of time for you to study for the material the professors talked about in class. Meanwhile, you can always find yourself some interesting events or activities for leisure. This is all I want to talk about! Hope to meet you guys in the University of Toronto!