Between the academic and social scene, Western University has its fair share of stereotypes. While everyone’s first-year experience is unique, allow us to ease your anxious thoughts with a bit of Western myth-busting.
Professors won’t remember your name: Fiction
Okay, obviously if you sit at the back of a large lecture hall, avoid participation or just don’t bother to show up altogether, your prof won't recognize you. You made it into one of Canada’s top universities though, so you’re a pretty smart cookie. Making an effort to participate in class discussions and visiting your prof’s office hours are two great ways to ensure you’re seen as more than just a student number. The first few weeks, you'll notice a lot of students lining up to introduce themselves to the instructor at the end of class — these students have the right idea. Most profs at Western genuinely want to get to know their students and they want to help you succeed. This becomes increasingly true in upper years as well, when class sizes shrink allowing profs and students to become on a first-name basis.
Bell curving: Fact and Fiction
Bell curve grading is a lot like playing a game of musical chairs. There aren’t enough chairs for everyone just like there aren’t enough 90s for everyone. Marking on a curve is similar because it permits only a certain number of students to get a high mark. Profs use this method if they want to create a normal distribution. For example, if a course is graded on a B curve, a larger percentage of the class will be able to receive a grade from B minus to B plus, leaving a smaller percentage available to receive As or Cs.
This can work both against you and in your favour depending on how well you did in comparison to the rest of the class. Some students even count on curve grading to boost their mark, so it isn’t all bad. Truth be told, not all courses are graded this way however, as this system depends on your program and professor.
Saugeen is a Zoo: Fiction
Don’t let stories of hallway Slip N' Slides and the Saugeen stripper scare you away from this gem of a residence. Sure it’s got an infamous reputation, but in recent years it's taken a turn for the quieter. While being the largest residence on campus means there are more students to take into account, generally it’s agreed that the former zoo has settled down. Will there be nights you can’t get to sleep because of the loud music down the hall? Of course. You’re living among 1,250 students fresh out of high school. Just invest in a pair of ear plugs and scout out some quiet study spaces in advance. Also, your sophs and residence advisors are there to make sure nothing gets too out of hand.
Now if you're in Med-Syd that's a whole other story, since it's the new zoo.
Freshman 15: Fact and Fiction
Naturally some of your eating and lifestyle habits will change when you begin to live on your own at university and have a cafeteria at your disposal. But if health is important to you, there’s a variety of resources on campus that will help guide you towards healthier choices.
Your Western OneCard gives you free access to the gym facilitates and the Western Student Recreation Centre. But the options don't end there. There are residence gyms, you can walk from class everyday, join an intramural or a find a group fitness class.
That being said, university life will keep you busy and some people find it difficult to fit in regular workouts. Pair that with stress-eating come exam time, and your weight may increase. While you may gain over or under 15pounds, try not to sweat it. Finding balance while living on your own is part of transitioning to university.
You need a fake if you're underage: Fiction
While there might be some older, gap-year students in rez who are already nineteen and eager to hit Richmond Row, most first years will still be underage. Honestly though, this is to your advantage. You get to participate in something most upper-year students miss dearly: rez parties. Pull out that closet door to use as a beer pong table and deck out your dorm in strobe lights. While everyone else is waiting in line at Barking Frog and paying for cover and Ubers, you get to bond with your floormates for free — just don’t let your residence advisors catch you.
If the idea of multiple sweaty bodies dancing in a rez room isn’t your idea of fun though, you still needn’t worry. Between O-week events, club socials and movie nights in the lounge, there really is something for everyone.
Pro tip: bring microwave popcorn or s’more ingredients to share in rez and make instant friends.