Most undergraduate students assume that their peers are also studying toward bachelor degrees. However, this assumption does not always hold true, and Tyler Han is an example of this. Currently a grade 12 student at Lord Byng Secondary, Han is making his presence felt in the lecture halls of UBC.
Han is one of a sizeable number of grade 12 students taking courses at UBC. Oftentimes these students have completed AP level studies in certain subjects, and are looking to expand their knowledge and experience university while still in high school. In Han’s case, he has completed high school level courses and AP level studies in math and computer science.
“[By the end of Grade 10], I finished all my computer science courses at high school, the highest level being AP computer science. That wasn’t too challenging, to be honest.” After a year of self-study, Han decided to challenge himself by taking courses at UBC. “In grade 12, I wanted to keep on learning about computer science and so that’s how I came here. And it’s nearby, which makes it easier to take courses here.” Han completed MATH 200 during the first semester, and is currently enrolled in CPSC 210.
Although he is waiting on his application to the department of computer science, Han is making the most of his time at UBC. “I like the campus a lot, and just the ‘university life’ in general. I’ve even joined some clubs -- the Model UN Club, and the Steppingbridge Association. Since you have a UBC ID, you’re able to go around and do whatever everyone else does.” As a part-time student, Han recognizes the advantages of being at UBC. “The most important one is the U-Pass. It saves me from having to buy a concession pass every month.”
Although Han is hoping to explore new frontiers of computer science at UBC, he is already proficient at designing programs. His first ever project was “SwitchEdit -- it was for an indie game; someone was making a browser game called TagPro, and [SwitchEdit] was the map editor. That was okay, a couple dozen people used it.” Han has also been involved with web design and "other projects on the side," but if he had to point to one main project, it would be ChairMUN. Han and another student, Lee, spent months working on this software, designed for use during Model UN conferences. “Basically every major conference in B.C., including UBCMUN, and also a lot of conferences in the States have shown interest.”
Having experienced higher-level education, Han now feels a certain degree of separation from secondary school education. “It just feels completely different -- almost like living two completely different lifestyles. I think it’s the amount of care people put towards you. In high school teachers will constantly prompt you for homework, et cetera, but in university it stops. No one specifically forces you to do anything; it’s all based on your own effort and merit. I actually like that much more.”
Han believes that the difficulty of university also poses challenges altogether different from high school. “I remember in a MATH 200 class, looking away for a moment or two and looking back at the board. I had no idea what was going on!”
Like any other university student, Han has run into his own share of problems. “My grades for my first course [MATH 200] were not good at all; I just butchered the final.” He has also felt the effects of the increased workload. “My study habits aren’t perfect, so sometimes I fall behind and I have to work extra hard. [This happened] especially during the winter season, when I had a lot of university applications going on and extracurriculars on top of that.”
Still, planting a foot on both sides of graduation has proved advantageous for Han.
“It doesn’t make me any more confident that I might get in [to university], but at least I know that I am prepared for the challenge.”