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  1. This is great advice about how to start thinking about post-secondary education! I'd also like to add that it might be helpful to think of a general direction you'd like to go in rather than stressing about picking a career. As pointed out above, if you don't like English and writing then maybe you'd be interested in general science programs, engineering, or business. Each of these areas themselves are extremely diverse, plus nearly all programs have enough room for electives in order to explore other interests! Your program is only the first step in your future career, and there are many options to come, like specializing or combining in another subject! More than anything, I would also like to encourage everyone who might be pressured to choose a specific direction to make that choice for yourself! Post-secondary is a big decision, and you know what is best for you, so research your options and trust your gut! You'll find that your program/institution offers many options to customize your degree and the future is full of possibilities!
  2. Hi everyone! The transition from high school to university is different for everybody but I wanted to share some of the things I learned that you may find helpful during your own transition. Feel free to comment below if you have any further questions/concerns! Choose your courses wisely! Do your research on your program requirements and make sure you are taking any prerequisites you need for upper-level courses. There are lots of courses offered at any university, so I recommend searching for the course directory if you want to explore your options! Try not to contain yourself to the campus bubble! This is some of the best advice I've gotten from upper years during orientation week. Familiarizing yourself with campus is already a challenge, and sometimes you can get so busy that it's easy to forget to explore the city outside of campus! This is especially true if you live on residence. Although you should be taking your studies seriously and prioritizing your health and well-being, it's also great to familiarize yourself with the surrounding area! I am currently studying at McMaster and there are wonderful local eateries and shops located a short walking distance from campus. You can find wonderful cafés to study at or even nice hiking or biking trails near campus! I encourage you to get out and explore, you never know what you might find! Don't hesitate to ask for help or clarification. University classes, especially first year classes, can be extremely large and fast-paced, so it's your responsibility to approach your profs, TAs, and your peers when you need help with something (go to your prof's office hours or make an appointment for one-on-one help)! I know that this could be intimidating, especially in a new environment. But there are so many resources on campus and you're paying for most (if not all) of them in your tuition, so please take advantage! Also, the more you reach out, the more comfortable you'll feel doing it! It's great to build your own network. Your health comes first! Don't forget to take study breaks, to make healthy choices, and to make time for your hobbies. School is important, but your health is your number one priority. If you're interested in varsity or intramural sports, I highly recommend giving them a try! There is so much more to university than your courses. Take advantage of the new community and the enormous amount of extracurriculars that it presents to you. This includes things like clubs, committees, teams, fitness classes, creative productions, events, and volunteering! There is going to be so much to explore at your university, and it is up to you to get involved! I encourage you to nurture your interests, try new things, and find balance in your life. You probably already know this, but stay organized and don't procrastinate! I cannot stress this enough. I've always been somewhat of a procrastinator but it was so much more difficult to catch up in university than it was in high school. University moves at a quicker pace and the material will be on a higher level than that of high school, so my best advice is to stay on top of your work and to get ahead if possible! I highly recommend using your agenda and/or apps like Google Calendar to keep yourself scheduled and on track. Different things work for different people, and first year is your chance to figure out what works for you. Also, please remember to be kind to yourself and remember that it's ok to make mistakes. First year is all about finding your footing! Before classes start, I recommend compiling all of your course syllabi and noting all important dates/deadlines in your agenda or calendar. That way you have it all in one place and you can see how your courses are going to play out! I think that's all I can think of for now. Please feel welcome to continue the conversation below, I'd be happy to answer any questions regarding first year or the transition from high school to university!
  3. Hi everyone! I'm a student currently enrolled in McMaster's Arts & Science Program. Feel free to leave any questions about the program or about interdisciplinary learning below!
  4. Yep pretty much! To build off the points mentioned above: - Most first-year classes are gigantic and you are encouraged to visit your professor's office hours to connect with them better and/or to clarify course material! Try to make friends with the people you sit with and just remember that class size is likely to get smaller throughout the years! - Yes, please try to familiarize yourself with the campus before classes. It's already difficult enough as it is to orient yourself around campus but it becomes even more difficult when classes start and there are people everywhere. Also, I highly recommend taking campus tours at the universities you are interested in! This is a great way to explore the campus and get a feel for the atmosphere to determine which ones you would most prefer. - If you're ok with online copies or used copies of required books, they tend to be cheaper than new or hard-cover books! If you're required to buy pieces literature then sometimes you can find them online for free, I recommend checking online before you buy these! - Unfortunately I have to agree; I think that the quality of a TA is determined mostly by their own commitment and effort and you can't really control this. Regardless, don't hesitate to ask questions or to be referred to someone who can elaborate more if their knowledge is limited! Also, for those of you who aren't familiar, a TA is a Teaching Assistant. They are upper-year students paid by the university to assist professors in teaching. In my experience they have led tutorials, attended some lectures to keep up with the material, and have marked some minor assignments/evaluations. The responsibilities of your TA will depend on the course though! They can be a great resource having been in your position before. Highly recommend asking them for both course advice and student/life advice in general! - Yes, exams and tests are probably going to be harder than high school but the degree of difficulty depends on a lot of things, including which course at which university, the style of the professor and/or TA, your personal commitment and effort to the course, etc. Don't stress too much about difficulty right now, but when you get there just be sure to make use of your resources (as posted about above), your time, and to put in your best effort. It might be difficult to adjust to the level of university in first year but you'll get used to it as you go along. It's normal to struggle and there is no shame in asking for help when you need it! - Memorization is definitely key for several first-year courses. For me this was especially true for tests in cellular/molecular biology (BIOLOGY 1A03 at McMaster). You'll know when you need to memorize something because there will be no way around it. Just be sure that you understand the material as well; this will make it easier to memorize! Also for memorization, try to make use of mnemonics and silly ways to help you. Different things work for different people, and first-year is a great opportunity to discover what works best for you! - Friends are always great to have and it's always better to know that you're experiencing things together. Just make sure you're surrounding yourself with the right people. - I definitely found myself procrastinating and it hit me hard sometimes. Try to get ahead if possible and in general to stay on top of things! University courses will pile up quickly if you aren't careful. Hopefully these explanations were helpful! Don't hesitate to ask any further questions 🙂
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