I thought I had a clear idea of what courses I would take in my first year, but when I began researching, I encountered this thing called breadth requirements *shudders*. As a result, I frantically searched for courses that would fulfill the categories that I wasn’t planning to complete yet. This is when I came across the idea of a first-year seminar.
Admittedly, I didn’t really know much about what these seminar courses are. But I discovered this course called SII 199: Understanding and Debating Environmental Issues; the course title was intriguing, and it fulfilled category 3 (a difficult category to complete for life sciences students), so I enrolled in this 0.5 credit course.
I didn’t really know what to expect from this course: would there be a lot of writing? Are there a lot of assignments? And most importantly, would I be getting something out of taking this course?
After completing the course, I can easily say that I’m definitely glad that I chose to take this course.
Smaller class size
The classroom environment resembles that of a high school classroom; the class consisted of less than 20 students, who all became very familiar faces after a couple classes. This was a lot less overwhelming to me… especially when compared to the class size at Convocation Hall!
Since the class was smaller, I was able to get to know my classmates more. Interestingly enough, almost all of us came from different programs (since this course is open to all areas of studies). It was nice to learn about their student lives since it can be different from a life sciences student’s (which are the only type of students I meet in my other classes).
Improved my oral discussion and writing skills
Since this was a ‘debate’ class, there was a class discussion every single class. On top of that, there was also an oral presentation. Through these discussions and presentations, I became very comfortable speaking in front of a group in university; a skill that I wasn’t able to work on in any of my classes.
There were two major essays that were due throughout the year. For each, we were required to submit the essay once, get feedback, then re-submit it. The feedback that I received from the professor was really helpful, and it helped me get an idea of what professors expect from me. I know that I’ll continue to take the feedback I got from my professor with me for my future courses.
I wasn’t expecting to get too much out of the first-year seminar class I took, as I didn’t know what to expect from it. In the end, I’m really glad I chose this course because it has made a significant impact on my overall experience here at U of T! 🙂