Justice, Political Philosophy and Law at McMaster University
Jayme (Year 3)
What did you wish you knew before going to your university? What made you choose this institution over all others? What are advantages and disadvantages of your institution or campus? List any advice for incoming first-year students about your university.
I chose McMaster over other institutions for many different reasons. First, McMaster is close to home for me and I wanted to be able to go home often and see friends and family in first year whilst living on res. Both my parents attended McMaster and loved it and encouraged me to check out the campus, which I loved as well. I chose McMaster over other universities because I thought it was the perfect size campus with amazing student life. It is not super competitive and everyone seemed (and is) willing to help each other and is extremely friendly. Advice I would give to incoming first-year students is to choose the university you have the best gut feeling about and choose a university based on how good you feel when you are on campus. That is how I based my decision and I do not regret it one bit!
What did you wish you knew before choosing your specific program? What are the advantages and disadvantages of your program? List any advice for incoming first-year students about your program of study.
I actually did not know about my program (Justice, Political Philosophy and Law) before going into first year. I did my first year in a general social science program. I found out about JPPL through a few upper year students and once I heard about it I knew I wanted to apply. I would've loved to know about the program before going into first year, but I am glad I found out about it. I think my program is extremely well rounded and is very helpful for future academic plans, whether law, politics social justice, philosophy, etc related. The program touches on all of these aspects and fosters a great understanding of the legal system and its institutions as well as the social world. It is a small program and is a very tight knit and welcoming community open to a diverse group of people with different interests. If you have an interest in law, politics, philosophy, social justice, or anything in this realm.. this may be the program for you!
What was your favourite university experience?
I think my best experience at university was first year welcome week and living in residence. Welcome week was an amazing time where I met so many new people (whom are now some of my best friends) and engaged in so many fun activities and games. During welcome week, everyone that was part of it was so welcoming and kind and very accommodating to everyone's interests and comfort zones. My welcome experience in first year made me want to be a part of the social science welcome week representative team, which I was in second year (another amazing experience)! Being a social science rep during welcome week was extremely fun and is a week in my life I will never forget. Everyone is so kind, cheerful and welcoming and I was so glad to help ease first years into the McMaster community!
What was your least favourite university experience?
I have yet to have a terrible university experience but I think that the first day when I first moved in to residence was a bit difficult. My parents dropped me off and it was a bit stressful and overwhelming at first being there alone and not knowing anyone yet in my res. My parents ended up coming back to take me to dinner because I was a bit anxious. Then, when we got back from dinner the residence reps did a good job at engaging me and introducing me to people. I went to a bonfire by my residence and ended up having such a good night!
What is the hardest part about your program and what were the steps that you took to overcome any difficulties?
JPPL is a quite demanding program that fosters a great education. It was a bit difficult to first get used to the workload going from first year into second. I had to get used to writing many essays as well as reading a lot more than I ever had in first year (and high school). There is a lot of reading in many courses in this program and I started to make homework calendars to specify when I would do what readings, or write certain essays. I found it helpful to make a homework schedule for the upcoming week. I also found that writing notes for each reading was extremely helpful so that when I would have to write an essay or paper on them, I had previous notes I could fall back on.
If you were able to take electives, what was your favourite elective? If you were not able to take electives, what was your favourite course and why?
Philosophy 2B03: Introductory Logic and Philosophy 2D03: Bioethics were two of my favourite courses thus far in JPPL. Both are interdisciplinary courses but Logic is mandatory if you do not take Critical Thinking (2CT3). Logic gives you a basic understanding of logical rules and analyses of arguments. It was difficult, but I liked how it used letter and symbol equations (almost like math) which was a good break from writing essays and papers. I found it fun to do the homework and would get so excited if I got a solution right. Bioethics was also super interesting. It teaches you the basics of moral philosophy in the medical field through consideration of the ethics of health care practices. The tutorials for this course were great because each tutorial you would be given a scenario and the class would pick apart the ethics and moral issues of the health care scenario.