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An Introduction

Hey everyone,

After much contemplation, I’ve finally decided to hop on the bandwagon -so to speak- and start an online blog.  My name is Brandon; I’ve recently completed my second year of study at the University of Alberta and am slated to begin my third year in September.  For all intents and purposes, I hope to share with you the insight, tips, and tricks that I have accrued throughout my undergrad (thus far).

A (not so) brief back-story:

I often look back fondly on my high school years; they were, for lack of a better word, excellent.  I was able to expend minimal effort and still maintain 95%+ averages in the majority of my classes.  There always seemed to be time to run in races (a big hobby of mine), and to play street hockey with my buddies.  Way back when, course marks were made up of half a dozen or so unit tests and we were given the option to exempt (and therefore not write) most of our final exams.  In other words, high school was extremely forgiving!

Unfortunately, my tried and true study habits in high school were not nearly as effective in university! In high school, I was able to ‘get away with’ cramming everything at the last minute.  I remember numerous occasions where I would find myself furiously studying from 6 p.m. until midnight the evening before a big exam.  In retrospect, this was an utterly awful routine that no doubt set me up for a tough time in the beginning of undergrad. (To all of the high school crammers out there: it may work now, but it won’t get you very far in the long run; study smart, review often)

I always had an affinity for the sciences, so when the time came to apply to university, I chose to register for a degree in the General Sciences field; leaving my major and minor undeclared.  The UofA offers three different streams all leading to science degrees (Honors, Specialization and General).  Choosing the Honors and Specialization streams would allow one to pursue a very structured and streamlined course layout, at the expense of sacrificing freedom of course selection (ie: the University picks and chooses the courses you must take). With all of that in mind, I elected to choose the stream that would give me the greatest diversity of courses, the General stream.

Out of the three science courses that I had taken in high school (biology, chemistry, and physics), I enjoyed biology the most.  It was then that I decided I wanted to pursue a career in the health/medical sciences.

Bereft of efficient study and time management habits, I, like most other first year students did not perform (academically), as well as we had initially hoped to.

In the next few posts, I plan on disseminating my courses one by one, providing advice on both my success and failures and how those experiences have shaped me into who I am today.  Well, that’s all for now, I have to get back to studying for my MCAT … stay tuned.

  1. July 26, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    I was totally going to go to U of A..but then i declined and went to UBC!!! (well i’m technically STARTING there, i make it sound like i already go there, but no, first year student :D)
    and one of your posts said you’re taking an intro phys course in BC?! wheere?!

    • July 27, 2011 at 11:05 am

      Currently, I’m taking Physics 102, at UBC, with Luda Tchvialeva. I’ve been a here, though, for the majority of my summer break because I also took Physics 101 with Georg Rieger, from May-June. (I’m a ‘visiting student’ for the summer). Before my second year came to an end (in April), I decided to see what it would be like to become a (temporary) student at a different university; so I got my “letter of permission,” and here I am! (It’s back to the grindstone … err … reality for me come September though. Third year should be interesting, haha)

      I have to say, UBC is fantastic, the students are nice, and the professor’s are ‘laid-back’; which amounts to a very good atmosphere / learning environment.

      You’re obviously going to be starting your first year ‘very’ soon!! Be sure to make the most of (what’s left of) your summer. Best of luck with your undergrad; you’ve got a lot ahead of you, which makes it all the more meaningful. Enjoy the journey!

      • July 27, 2011 at 11:21 am

        Ahh that’s cool! And thank you! 🙂 So are you originally from Alberta then??? Isn’t BC fantastic!? Yeah, I ‘m super excited to go to UBC!! And I’m actually taking Physics 101 in second semester…how did you find that course?? 😛

        • July 27, 2011 at 11:40 am

          Yep, born and raised in Edmonton, haha. BC is one of the nicest places in the world! You’re very lucky to live, and be a student here! UBC campus is situated in one of the most pristine landscapes on the planet!

          Physics 101 may seem quite intimidating at first (ie: if you look at the formula sheet before learning any of the formulas). But, like with any course, the effort you put ‘in’, will most likely match the mark that you get ‘out’. I got an A+ (93%), so I don’t have anything bad to say about it. (I’ll be sure to write up a more ‘detailed’ review in one of my upcoming blog posts lol)

          ADVICE: make sure to keep on top of all of your practice problems!! Your exam questions will mirror them very closely! Students who think that the practice is a waste of time, are more often than not the same students that do poorly!


          Also, if you didn’t already know, UBC has a webpage where you can view past course marks.


          Click on “Grades Distribution” and maybe do a search for the marks of a class your (upcoming) prof used to teach. That way, you can get a feel of what the grade distribution / class average was like in a past year.

          • May 4, 2012 at 5:47 pm

            this is a VERY late reply, and I apologize for that. here I am, almost a year later, replying to this (so sorry!) — I have survived first year. And I am taking Physics 101 this summer with Rieger, care to give me your thoughts on his teaching style/how the course went as a whole(considering you did QUITE well!), many say the summer session with him is MUCH easier than the fall! Thanks!

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