Sofia (Year 2)
What made you choose this institution over all others? Did the university exceed your expectations?
My main reason for choosing McMaster is the psychology program and the amazing life science program. I have heard only great things about the psych program. I loved that it incorporated psychology, neuroscience, and behaviour into the program whereas at other universities they offered only psychology or only neuroscience. The variety offered and unique program attracted me. The campus is also a perfect size. It's surrounded by nature and trails which are a great way to break from studying.
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.
I struggled with the transition at the beginning which made my first semester a little difficult. However, second semester things were much better - it was easier to manage my time and the workload since I knew what to expect. The main issue for me was time management and over scheduling myself. I found that I would hope to get done too many things in one day and when I wouldn't finish everything it would stress me out more. I would suggest being realistic when planning your time.
Briefly describe the academic rigour of your program (in terms of competitiveness, courses, professors, etc.)
Life science gateway program is pretty general first year. There are a lot of options for electives (some easier than others) and then you have to take chem, 2 bios, physics, and math. Most of the courses are set up for you to succeed, but there is still a struggle with all the work that has to get done. The content can be difficult as well so lots of time must be dedicated to studying and reviewing. The professors are very helpful usually and in the sciences there aren’t generally too many big assignments. PNB program is a bit more specific and my interest level is higher for my courses because of this. The amount of science and social science focus is pretty equal which I really like. Also for the most part the professors I've had so far have been really nice, helpful, and you can tell they care which is important.
Describe the social life at your campus based on your own experiences (making friends, clubs + extracurriculars, party culture etc.)
I found it difficult to make friends in lecture. It is easier to talk to people in tutorials since there are discussions and smaller groups of students. My closest friends were made in my res and some through extracurriculars as well. At the beginning of the year, there were a lot more events happening, but there are many extracurriculars to get involved in throughout the year as well. There are parties if you're looking for them but I don't think there are too many especially on campus( it depends the res you're in).
What are some of the best and worst parts of your university experience so far?
I found first year a little too general so I didn’t love all of my courses but I’m enjoying second year more as I'm studying exactly what I’m interested in. The adjustment of moving away from home and handling the demanding workload on my own was overwhelming at times but making friends and finding time for myself helped a lot. I think I really matured and figured out how to manage my time a lot better.
List three effective study techniques and/or habits:
Doing lots of practice questions
Discussing concepts with classmates
Handwritten notes were memorized better
List three pieces of advice for first-year students:
University is a lot of fun, but it is also very difficult so if things aren’t going the way you hope, it’s completely okay... remember everyone is going through the same thing! It’s a huge jump from high school but by second semester you will be much more prepared and I noticed a huge improvement. Don’t forget to take breaks and make time for yourself!! It’s so important to take care of your mental health.
Planning specific times into your daily and weekly schedule for breaks and time to yourself is crucial. It isn't possible to work all the time so don't make your self feel guilty for not doing so. I found it really helpful to time myself when working so I force myself to be productive, and then take short breaks in between so I don't burn myself out. Also I highly recommend staying on res first year!! It's just a great experience in general and you meet so many people this way.