Justin (Year 3)
What made you choose this institution over all others? Did the university exceed your expectations?
I chose McMaster because it is an extremely diverse school with a focus on personal life outside of school. It didn't have an intense academic reputation for my program (like waterloo) which is something I like as I don't want to be stressed and overwhelmed for 4 years straight. Nonetheless, McMaster still has an extremely great academic reputation and it definitely exceeds my expectations with regards to campus life and academics.
Do you have any lingering thoughts or regrets in your year as a whole (ex; application process, mistakes going into first year). If so, describe them.
My biggest regret would be not being more social while in school. It's quite a depressing time when all you do is go home right after your classes (which is what I did all of first year and most of second). I now make more of an effort to socialize with peers and find time for myself. A great example is working out a few times a week, going out to dinner with friends or even studying at the library with classmates.
Briefly describe the academic rigour of your program (in terms of competitiveness, courses, professors, etc.)
I would say that my program (Math & Computer Science) is not competitive compared to other schools, but the workload is honestly still up there which makes free time quite scarce. Sharing classes with Software Engineering and Computer Science students, it can be quite competitive. Luckily, the professors do give some leeway when it comes to deadlines and marking.
Describe the social life at your campus based on your own experiences (making friends, clubs + extracurriculars, party culture etc.)
For me specifically, almost all of my friends were made during welcome week. So I really recommend going out to as many events as you can. I also do believe making friends is not too difficult at McMaster because the campus is quite small and it's easy to get to know people. I personally don't join clubs or go to parties so can't really comment, but I do see quite a few house parties.
What are some of the best and worst parts of your university experience so far?
Best experiences would definitely be welcome week. It was an amazing time as everybody was so friendly and willing to meet new people. Like I said before, really make an effort to go out and meet new people! These people can really make your university experience amazing.
Worst experiences would probably be early on in my 2nd year when I was really stressed and homesick. I didn't reach out to friends enough and was overall having a bad time. That's why I encourage everyone to try their best to get out there and not just stay at home like I did.
List three effective study techniques and/or habits:
Studying in libraries. I know it's hard to focus sometimes but being around people while studying can make you a lot happier and less lonely, which as a result can improve your school life.
Working out. It's 100% true when people say it helps with your mental health and self confidence. I started working out a lot in university and it has greatly helped me with being less overwhelmed about schoolwork. Any hobby to distract you and relieve some stress for a few hours a week will do.
Have a designated studying area. Don't study where you relax or sleep. Find an area that when you are there, you just study. This will tell your brain it's time to focus and to stay focused.
List three pieces of advice for first-year students:
Friends will make your career. Not saying having no friends is bad, but later down the road, these friends can help introduce you to many opportunities (like jobs for example). Not to mention it is super helpful when you are stuck on an assignment answer and you can call up a classmate for help.
Find something you are passionate about. It's definitely not easy, but find a subject you like, and roll with it. Your school and job will be 100% more enjoyable when you are doing something you love (for me, that would be coding).
When it comes to finding internships, don't be lazy. Apply like crazy and go to job fairs. These internships will really help you in the future when you are looking for full time work (and they pay well too!!)