Applying to UBC: Which program? Which campus?

Question (edited for brevity):

“I’m applying to UBC this year and there are so many choices for programs. Which one did you choose when you applied back then? Is general sciences offered on the vancouver campus or is it only at the Okanagan campus?”

Ooh university applications season is such an exciting time!

At other schools, I was applying to many neuroscience programs but at UBC, you don’t choose a major when you apply. You only choose a general program/faculty to apply to.

I applied to Science program on the Vancouver Campus and the combined Commerce/Computer Science program on the Vancouver Campus. In retrospect, I think I would have also been happy in the Kinesiology or Lands and Food Sciences degree.  I ended up picking Science as my first choice because I was interested in the pharmacology major (disclaimer: as some of you know, I am majoring in Integrated Sciences specializing in Pharmacology & Neuroscience).

You don’t have to know your exact major but I highly suggest that you think about the coursework and several majors that you would be interested in and then look carefully at the program that these majors are in. For example, if you are interested in Nutrition, you may be drawn more to the Faculty of Lands and Food Systems. If you want to study Pharmacology, or Microbiology, Science might be the best fit. If you’re interested in Physiology and Anatomy, Kinesiology or Science would be both good fits so then dig deeper in the coursework offered by each faculty.

Choose your program for yourself rather than blindly follow what your peers or parents tell you. When I was in high school, most of us just followed what everyone else was doing.  This can lead to good things such as a push to join clubs and sports teams. When you’re in high school, your parents likely still have a big influence on your life and may be pressuring you to pursue a particular major and/or career. Your parents and peers can definitely provide good advice but ultimately, you are the one living your own life. You are the one spending 4 years of your life in that major. You are the one spending the rest of your life in a particular career. Therefore, it’s your right to make the ultimate decision.

See Cathy’s Blog about breaking away from her father’ pressure to become an accountant to instead pursue science & potentially medicine: http://blogs.ubc.ca/whatiscathy/2016/12/13/a-reflection/

I know some others might advise you to choose a “safe backup” as your second choice program but I advise against this. Many people do end up in their second choice program so make sure your second choice is something you will be genuinely happy to spend four years in! I’ve said this before in another post, but there is also no “safe backup” because there is no program that you are guaranteed to get into. To address this directly, there is a widespread misconception on UBC Vancouver that the Faculty of Forestry is “just a backup” program. There are many individuals in Forestry that love what they study and Forestry was their first choice so I don’t suggest looking down on any program.

What’s nice is that the application process can also serve as something to help you make a big choice. For instance, I used to be interested in studying commerce/computer science for a while but that interest waned towards the end of high school when I started to get interested in a career in scientific research and/or a career in health care. So I put them both down and used the process as a “let’s see where fate takes me.”

If you absolutely love your first choice program and don’t like anything else for your second choice, you should study as much as possible and get awesome grades in Grade 12 so that you can maximize your chances of getting in.

Which campus: Kelowna or Vancouver?

There is a Faculty of Science in Kelowna. If you’re specifically asking about the “general science major”, it is only offered in Kelowna. We don’t have the general science major in Vancouver anymore. We do have the combined science and integrated science programs instead. My advice for you is to, again, think of your intended major because the majors available are different there. E.g. if you want to study biochem, they have that major on both campuses. But if you want to study pharmacology, it’s not offered there as of the time of this post.

As for picking the campus, that is a really personal choice. I chose to stay in Vancouver because I 1) wanted to stay to support and help my family in Vancouver and 2) made an appropriate financial decision to save money. People told me and I’m sure you’re gotten this advice as well, “Don’t worry about the money. Just do what your heart tells you.” I want to counter that and say that the ~ $10000  or more for rental costs per year is a big financial consideration for some families, including mine . I didn’t want to spend the money renting a place for my undergraduate education because I wanted to save the money for my post-undergraduate education.

But if finances is not concern to you, I would say both campuses are beautiful and there is a lot to do and experience. I’ve visited the Kelowna campus and it’s awesome. Both of my cousins study in Kelowna and have had a pretty good experience.

I wish you the best of luck with your applications! Maybe we’ll see you here at UBC Vancouver next year!

How to get into UBC

  1. Get good grades. Other people may tell you that extracurriculars are more important than good grades but I believe that good grades are the most important. You’re trying into get into an institution of higher education so you should demonstrate with good grades that you will be capable of handling the huge amount of learning that you’ll do at university. Great grades can also indicate a solid work ethic when it comes to schoolwork and that you actually give a damn about school.
  2. Take a leadership role in at least 3 extracurriculars. You don’t have to be Team Captain or President. I was the President of my own club, was in the leadership team of my hockey team (served as Assistant Captain one year but was never Captain), Creative Director in another organization, and had some other leadership roles.  Show that you can commit and go above and beyond the effort and time that a regular member would put in.
  3. Do at least one community service extracurricular. Honestly, you should really be giving back to your community whether or not you’re trying to get into university. Go volunteer time to a cause that you believe in! The most fulfilling aspect of my high experience was all the outreach concerts I did with my fellow members with the music therapy volunteer program & organization I started. Volunteering can be a lot of fun because you can meet people of all ages. Volunteering in a variety of capacities also lead me to be interested in the career that I’m currently working to pursue.
  4. Join at least one athletic team. You don’t have athletic by nature but it’s really important to have experience working as a team towards a common goal. Sports are also a lot of fun and keep you healthy.
  5. Do an arts related extracurricular even if you’re aiming for not aiming to study arts. I wrote poetry and theatre plays because I love sharing messages to the world through my writing. Music, photography, painting, theatre, graphic design, dance – whatever you enjoy.
  6. Work experience signals maturity and responsibility. You might find your job boring and that’s ok! I didn’t find myself fulfilled in some of my previous roles which helped me realize what did make me feel fulfilled. One of my office work roles allowed me to do first aid and I learned that I felt fulfilled helping people who needed first aid treatment (so much that I’m still a First Aid Attendant years later). I discovered my passion for teaching as a tutor and piano teacher so I suggest trying out different jobs until you find yourself something that you like.
  7. START EARLY ON YOUR APPLICATION ESSAYS. It will take more time than you think to brainstorm, write, edit, throw away what you’ve written, write new essays, edit, and repeat. It will take more than one night. More application advice at 10 FAQS: Applying to UBC
  8. Make your application essays fun to read. Be creative. Don’t write too formally. Instead of saying, “I have lots of leadership qualities”, tell a story of a time that you led ____. Throw in a joke. Instead of saying “I have interpersonal skills” (that just sounds so awkward….), show that by writing about interactions with people. On that note, change the names of the people you write about to protect their privacy. For example, I wrote about an experience at Downtown Eastside Women’s centre so I was careful to remove personal information about the people in my essay. It won’t help or hinder your application but it’s just a considerate thing to do.
  9. Submit your application a week before the early bird deadline at the latest. The year I applied, the deadline was Dec 10. I submitted my UBC application two weeks before the early deadline, which means 2 months before the actual deadline. 1) Every year, the application system crashes when lots of people are submitting last minute. Don’t be the applicant crying with fear that your application was submitted. 2) I know you don’t feel like it but it will feel great when you get your acceptance in March way before some of your friends that waited until the last minute and don’t hear back from UBC months after you . A lot of my friends that were accepted to UBC also submitted their applications before the early bird deadline. Just carve out some time now to write and then submit as soon as you can!
  10. Put the faculty you want most as your first choice. Don’t get convinced into applying to a “safety” faculty as your first choice. There are no safety faculties  (read 10 FAQS about applying to UBC) – everything is competitive . A lot of people get into their first choice even if they think they are not competitive enough.  I put my current Faculty, Science, as my first choice and Sauder for business and computer science as my second choice. They’re both competitive but hey, that is what I wanted to study so I applied for exactly what I wanted.

BONUS: How to set yourself for success at university

  1. Take a full courseload. Knowing how to juggle the demands of multiple classes is important.
  2. Take the hardest courses available at your school. If available, take as many AP courses as you can. It will greatly help when you are actually in university. AP Chemistry and Calculus were immensely helpful when I was in my first year chemistry and calculus course.
  3. Take electives that interest you. This might be the last time you have time to try singing in a choir or take an elective Canadian Law course.
  4. Learn how to balance studying with extracurriculars and having fun.
  5. Time management is the most useful skill you’ll ever need. 

PHYS 117 – Physics

Tips for success:

• You must bring an electronic device to class to answer in-class problems

• Perusall is due every Sunday night. You have to put online comments about the assigned

textbook reading and reply to classmates’ comments for marks. PRO TIP: if you have trouble coming up with questions, answer your classmates’ questions instead. Pro TIP: the diagrams are good places to ask questions.

• Mastering Physics are online problem sets that are due every week. Carve out time to work on these. Sometimes they can be challenging.

Continue reading “PHYS 117 – Physics”

Eng 112 – Strategies for University Writing

You’ll learn:

  • critical reading of academic texts
  • how to write to communicate effectively

Class structure

  • mandatory regular attendance
  • participation in class activities and discussions.
  • In-class essays
  • Take-home essay(s)
  • 3-hour final examination at the end of the course where you’ll be asked to write essays

Lots of

  • Implementing “They Say I Say” into your writing style. You’ll find out what They Say I Say means every soon.
  • Pointing out what established academics have done wrong in their writing

How to get a good grade:

  • Actually do the assigned reading before class
  • Bring the book or print out the reading to bring to class so you can refer to it during discussion.
  • You can bring a digital version.
  • IMPORTANT: Speak in class!! 1) you get participation marks. 2) you force yourself to organize and vocalize your thoughts. 3) your professor will learn that you’re alive.
  • Your professor will often not write or present any notes but you should take notes on what is being discussed.
  • Take notes on good points that your classmates bring up.
  • Start working on your final paper early
  • Choose a final paper topic that you’re personally interested. Do not choose a topic solely because you think your professor will like it. If you find your own topic boring, you will write a boring paper and your professor will cry while drinking coffee trying to read your paper.
  • Go get at least two physical books when you’re conducting background research.
  • The UBC Libraries are great resources.
  • Spend time working on a good thesis.
  • Talk to your professor at office hours if you have questions

Suggested professor: Dr Lorcan Fox (he’s hilarious!)

 

First year classes for UBC Life Science majors

First year schedule at top,

Click “Continue Reading” for asnwers to Frequently asked questions about First year course scheduling below

You should choose your first year classes based on what majors you’re interested in. You only have to take certain classes if you’re interested in a particular major, e.g. two semesters of physics if you’re interested in the Physiology (CAPS) major. That said, most first years in the Faculty of Science have roughly the same schedule to meet the Lower Level requirements set by the Faculty of science.  I knew I was interested in a life science major such as Pharmacology, Microbiology, Biology, Physiology etc so I choose my first year classes so that I fulfilled the course requirements to apply for these majors. If you’re interested in more about choosing a major particularly a life science major, I intend to write a post on Choosing a Major in the future.

Click on the name of the course to read tips to do well in that specific course

First Year First term:

First Year Second Term

 

Frequently asked questions:

Should I take BIOL 112 or BIOL 121 first?

BIOL 112 in my personal opinion. Absolutely BIOL 112 if you’re claiming AP Bio credit and want to take a second year biology class term 2. If you’re not claiming bio credit, it doesn’t matter but I personally think the content of biol 112 (cell biology, metabolism etc) is a good foundation to build on for further studies in biology.

Continue reading “First year classes for UBC Life Science majors”