In My Element – Switching Programs

“Pursue what is meaningful, not what is expedient” – Jordan Peterson, U of T Professor
I did it. I switched programs in the second week of second year. My worst nightmare came true - having to play catch up already in the second week of school. If you read my last post on applying coursework in the field, it sounded like I had my academics together - and that's because I did. Weeks of careful planning - lunch break, no classes after 6pm, only one class on Monday - but my life took a 180 turn when I woke up one morning to see that I was accepted to my first and second choice POSt(s). Contemplation Going from a Type 1 to Type 2 (limited enrollment) Program would be a no brainer for most students. Here's an analogy I made: Imagine that in two months, you won't be able to use your right hand anymore. What do you do? You retrain yourself to rely on your left hand; but then two months are over and you actually still can use your right hand. One, you're probably going to feel a little frustrated. Two, you might have grown accustomed to your left hand. That's how I felt after being refused from my program during the first round of acceptances and now having less than a week to switch majors.
program enrollment deadline on artsci website
If you were set on the program, why didn't you just enroll in the courses before being accepted? Great question.
  1. In first year, I bit off more than I could chew, so I wasn't going to take more courses than needed, especially in the first week.
  2. I didn't meet the minimum grade requirements so I thought it was impossible to get accepted (Hence "training myself to use my left hand" aka loving a different program).
  3. I needed my registrar to enroll me in certain engineering courses since I would be in a joint program.
Waking Up

Niranjani: "Are you excited to study what you're studying now, everyday?"

Me: "Not really..."

Niranjani: "Well, there's your answer."

In first year, I was on auto-pilot: I'd go to classes, scribble notes down, nap, then try to understand my notes. Rinse and repeat. Second year started to feel like that and I wasn't enjoying myself. Deciding Factors An integral part of my decision was also my exposure to the communities of each department in first year:
Bahen Centre main hallway decked in balloons and filled with students
an engineering event i volunteered for
Blue, green and red STEM t-shirts
Chemistry, Physics & engineering t-shirts I received from volunteering
In Chemistry, 
  • I had a Course Community component - we met biweekly to meet grad students, industry speakers and went on lab tours.
  • The labs were hands on - I enjoyed mixing things and all the colourful chemicals.
  • I volunteered in Engineering outreach events in the summer and had visited the Materials Science & Engineering Labs.
Whereas in Physics,
  • I had many friends in Physics on residence and it was the subject I was accepted to study at U of T.
  • The labs were more digital - the labs were cool (there was a flying pig in PHY151) but more mathematical.
  • I volunteered for Physics outreach events and took part in many astronomy events.
chemistry drawer full of equipment
sweet chemistry set up
mum: "You still don't iron your lab coat??"
  In the middle of first year I started to regret not choosing Engineering. Given a second chance, I didn't want not making my program the first round of acceptances dampen my love for the material (pun intended) that I would learn in Materials Science. It's been a wild ride these past two weeks but I trust this bridged program will be worth it.

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