Advice for ambitious 1st-year undergraduates

  • Here I define ambition as wanting to graduate having accomplished the goal.
  • The goal = Being ahead of the game at whatever you are passionate about OR AT LEAST having a better idea of what you are passionate about.
  • I’m an incoming second-year life sciences student and my perspective is biased towards STEM programs. But I think my takeaways are still transferable to a lot of non-STEM programs, especially business.

GPA != the end, GPA = the means

Build projects, create content, and be impulsive in exploring

A snippet from my first coding pet project at the beginning of the year

Reach out to and learn from smarter people

Take electives for interesting professors and talk to them

  1. Not as easy as expected in terms of the time input required for a high mark.
  2. Not as interesting as something you could have chosen that would have piqued your interest even more.
  3. And the biggest fallacy here: in trying to optimize for your GPA, you miss the chance to meet a professor who has dedicated their lives to something you find interesting.

The goal is not easy, but it’s not ridiculously hard



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Michael Trịnh

Michael Trịnh


Undergraduate builder & researcher @UofT in the crossroads of bioinformatics, immunology, and genome engineering.