First Year Orientation

First Year Orientation

Bringing you an unforgettable orientation experience!

Welcoming new Marauder’s is our favourite time of the year. The weather’s warm and student excitement is building. We know that starting university can be just as nerve-wracking as it is exciting, especially if you’re nervous about academic expectations or even just leaving home for the very first time. Don’t worry, though. We’ve got you covered with our McMaster Orientation programs and services.

Welcome Week

Welcome Week takes place Saturday, August 26, 2017 to Saturday, September 2, 2017.

Welcome Week offers more than concerts and activities. It is an opportunity for incoming students to make friends, explore campus, get academic and emotional support from our staff and programs, grow as a Mac Marauder, and most importantly, an opportunity to make McMaster a home away from home.

To learn more, visit the Welcome Week website.


MacAdemics 101

Photo of McMaster students in a classroom.

Prepare for university academics

Wednesday, August 9, 2017 and Thursday, August 10, 2017

Have others warned you about “the difference” between university and high school? Are you worried about keeping up? You’re not alone. MacAdemics is our way of helping you get ready. Sign-up for MacAdemics to get the 101 on note-taking, time management, and other tips and tricks for surviving your first semester.

Self-Assessment and Transitioning to University

University is a big change from high school! Academics are more demanding, you will need new learning skills, and you will be responsible for your own success. In this session, you will reflect on your strengths, areas of improvement, attitudes, and habits and how those might be impacted in university. Uncover expectations for academic success and learn how to create a smoother transition.

Note Taking and Your First Lecture

University lectures can be difficult to follow. Professors speak quickly, there’s a lot of information to learn, and lecture halls can be distracting. This session will introduce strategies for learning and note-taking to help you keep up, write what’s important, and prepare excellent study notes!

Time Management

Time management is the most common challenge students face when starting university. There is a lot to balance and getting it all done is your responsibility. This session will introduce proven methods to manage your time well and to feel less stressed.

Summer Orientation for Academic Readiness (SOAR)

Have questions about University?

Monday, July 17, 2017 to Friday, August 11, 2017

Do you already have questions about starting university? Get your answers now by signing up for Summer Orientation for Academic Readiness (SOAR), an online program where we answer your questions through videos, short articles, and personal reflections.

I definitely struggled with my transition to University. I began seeing an academic skills coach first semester and by the second semester, I was meeting my with my academic skills coach almost every week. After I started to visit academic coaches, I not only saw a huge increase in marks, but I felt more confident and less stressed.

McMaster University Student

MOOSE Program

Make Orientation an Adventure

Monday, August 28, 2017 to Thursday, August 31, 2017

Take on the outdoors with other students in your faculty on our four-day trip and orientation program. The McMaster Outdoor Orientation Student Experience (MOOSE) program includes a two-night stay at Camp Arowhon and a one-night camping trip in Algonquin Provincial Park.


To help you succeed at university life through a mentored, outdoor experience.

Registration for 2017 has officially closed.

Stay informed about the MOOSE Adventure

Registration for MOOSE 2017 is now full.  To be added to the wait list, please send an email to that includes your name, phone number, McMaster email, and faculty.

Registration opened on June 1 for students joining the Social Sciences and Humanities faculties, and opened on July 4 for students joining all other faculties.

We encourage students from every faculty to register for this unique Welcome Week experience. Because the entire Orientation Levy fee that MOOSE participants pay to participate in Welcome Week goes directly towards MOOSE program costs, the cost to participate in MOOSE is only $20, plus an $80 participation bond that is refunded to you once you participate in the trip. Orientation Levy fees, as well as support from the Student Success Centre and McMaster Outdoor Recreation, cover the costs of transportation, meals, and programming costs, including a one-night stay at Camp Arowhon and a two-night camping trip in Algonquin Provincial Park, altogether valued at $435.

A limited number of spaces are available to first-year students at the cost of $20; however, a wait list will also be created for interested students.

Registration is on OSCARplus – Search ‘Special Events’. Activate your OSCARplus account with your MacID username and password.  Questions about MOOSE, contact

Photo from MOOSE Orientation program.

Got into MOOSE? What you need to know.


  • Meals: Please tell us if you have any allergies or dietary restrictions so that we can accommodate your needs. You can provide this information to trip organizers by calling 905.525.9140 extension 26384.
  • Gear: We will supply you with what you need, including packs and camping equipment! We will also send out packing lists, including proper clothing. NOTE: You must make sure to bring clothing, a sleeping bag, and sleeping mat. Don’t have one? Don’t worry. You can borrow from the McMaster University Outdoor club upon request. Contact us for the details.

Duke of Edinburgh Program

Differentiate yourself from the job market by signing up for the Duke of Edinburgh Program, a life-skills program offered in 140 different countries. The MOOSE program will provide you with many opportunities to fulfill the Duke of Edinburgh’s “adventurous journey” requirement. Learn more on the Duke of Edinburgh Award program’s guidelines page.


MOOSE’s activities follow the McMaster University Health and Safety guidelines. We outline all of the potential risks on our waivers, and ensure our staff the review medical forms of our participants. MOOSE leaders are also CPR- and First Aid-certified, and many of our coordinators have Wilderness First Aid and Wilderness Advanced First Aid certifications.

McMaster Outdoor Recreation has been organizing and leading canoe trips of this size for the past fifteen years. Parents/Guardians will receive an emergency contact sheet prior to the trip should they need to make contact with a participant.

Common Reading Program

Students at the Common Reading Program Open House.

Have a Common Experience

Share a common reading experience with your future classmates and friends through the McMaster Common Reading Program. Those who register for this orientation program will have the option to participate in on-line discussions about the book and its emerging themes related to university life, attend events or participate in an artistic reflective contest.

The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall

George Woodbury, an affable teacher and beloved husband and father, is arrested for sexual impropriety at a prestigious prep school. His wife, Joan, vaults between denial and rage as the community she loved turns on her. Their daughter, Sadie, a popular over-achieving high school senior, becomes a social pariah. Their son, Andrew, assists in his father’s defense, while wrestling with his own unhappy memories of his teen years. A local author tries to exploit their story, while an unlikely men’s rights activist attempts to get Sadie onside their cause. With George locked up, how do the members of his family pick up the pieces and keep living their lives? How do they defend someone they love while wrestling with the possibility of his guilt?

With exquisite emotional precision, award-winning author Zoe Whittall explores issues of loyalty, truth, and the meaning of happiness through the lens of an all-American family on the brink of collapse.

Get your free copy

SAS Shifting Gears Transition Program during weekly orientation sessions, Mills Library, Wong Room (L107):

  • Thursday, July 13, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, July 19, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, July 25, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, August 3, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, August 8, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, August 15, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
  • Monday, August 21, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

MSU Horizons Conference at SuccessFest, 1 James North, Hamilton:

  • Saturday, July 2, 2017, 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

MacAdemics 101, located at BSB lobby:

  • Wednesday, August 9, 2017, 9:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
  • Thursday, August 10, 2017, 9:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.

Residence Experience Day, Commons Breezeway:

  • Saturday, August 19, 2017, 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Photo of book author, Zoe Whittall.

Meet the Author: Zoe Whittall

Zoe Whittall is a Canadian poet and novelist. She has published three poetry collections and four novels to date, including the Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist The Best Kind of People. Her debut novel Bottle Rocket Hearts (2007) made the Globe and Mail Top 100 Books of the Year and CBC Canada Reads’ Top Ten Essential Novels of the Decade. Her second novel Holding Still for as Long as Possible (2009) won a Lambda Literary Award and was an American Library Association Stonewall Honor Book. She won the K.M. Hunter Artist Award for Literature in 2016. Her writing has appeared in the Walrus, the Believer, the Globe and Mail, the National Post, Fashion, and more. She has also worked as a writer and story editor on the TV shows Degrassi, Schitt’s Creek, and the Baroness von Sketch Show. Born in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, she has an MFA from the University of Guelph and lives in Toronto.

Photo of book author, Zoe Whittall.

Human Library: Ignite Inspiration

Wednesday, September 6, 2017, 12:30 to 2:15 p.m. Mills Library, Learning Commons (2nd Floor)

Inspire your own journey and open up conversations about university and community at the Human Library event. Learn more about the services and resources available through McMaster’s libraries while engaging in conversation with “living books.”

Human Library “Living Books” include:

  • Patrick Deane, President and Vice-Chancellor, McMaster University
  • Cole Gately, Part-time Instructor, BHSc Program, McMaster University
  • Chukky Ibe, President, McMaster Students Union
  • Liam and Lily, Dogs at Mac
  • Liam will be accompanied by Leeanne Romane, Learning Support Coordinator, McMaster University
  • Lily will be accompanied by Kelli Cale, Social Sciences Academic Advisor, McMaster University
  • Meaghan Ross, Sexual Violence Response Coordinator, McMaster University
  • Dr. Gary and Joy Warner, Acting Director, Arts & Science Program, McMaster University/Community Activists
  • Khadijeh Rakie, Human Rights Specialist, Equity and Inclusion Office, McMaster University
  • Paul Takala, Chief Librarian, Hamilton Public Library
  • Leo Johnson, Founder, Empowerment Squared
  • Sarah Jama, Outreach Coordinator, Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion
  • Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu, Buddhist Monk
  • Lilian Obeng, Director, MSU Diversity Services, McMaster Students Union

Zoe Whittall will be speaking and signing books at this event.

Reflection Activity Contest

Explore themes in the novel and foster an inclusive community through participation in the Reflection Contest. The Reflection Contest welcomes all works of art including written, visual, or other pieces of artistic expression. This contest is open to undergraduate and graduate students.

There are two options for submission:

In Words: Are you at your best when speaking to the world through words? Consider reflection through poetry, prose, a song, an essay, or a letter to the author.

Through Visuals: Do you find inspiration from imagery? Consider reflection through visual and digital arts, book trailers, clay sculptures, or another medium.

Submission must be received between September 1 to October 10, 2017.


  1. Online via the Learning Portfoilio.
  2. In person at the Student Success Centre (Gilmour Hall, Room 110).
  3. Via email.

Submissions will be reviewed and prizes will be awarded, including:

  • Gift certificates to the Campus Store.
  • VIP seating at In Conversation with Zoe Whittall on Wednesday, October 18.
  • The opportunity to read or show your work at the In Conversation event.
  • First place will have their submission memorialized in Mills Library.

Last year’s winners

My Home: Redefined
A poem written by Tiffany Tse

A loving family,
A place to stay.
This is all I’ve ever wanted –
a home.

Despite the terrors I have seen,
The nights awake fearing for my life,
I have pushed through.
This is the life I now live –
my home.

My sister out of reach,
My father permanently gone,
I have never felt so alone.
Perished –
my home.

But I have discovered myself in running:
the fresh air, the freedom, the control.
This is what I love.
Running towards what I desire most –
a home.

What is the true meaning of a home?
I realize it is not something I had,
Not something I am looking for.
It is who I am.

Where I belong,
What I love,
It is a part of me.

My passion, my love, myself –


Grandpa’s Rainbow
A story by Suhaila Abdelhalim

The six children got comfortable in their grandfather’s bed, and the room hushed, almost crouching down to listen to the grandfather’s tale. On the windows, light trickled down green blinds, and when one of the children focused, really focused, they could hear it softly ring like a subtle chorus of jingle bells. In the end, however, the steady drone of a pedestal fan and six anticipating breaths were the only sounds to fill the room’s corners.

“On the day we painted the rainbow, the sun felt so close, I swear you could grab it,” began the grandfather. “Thankfully, the nearby forest was lush with benevolent trees that linked their edges together, halting the sunlight’s venture to the forest floor.

“Now, you should all know that you are very lucky. Some countries are plagued with wars that end up killing innocent people, including children.”

“Even if they don’t fight?” gasped Ramsy, whose attention snapped away from a mesmerizing clot of saliva sitting in the corner of his grandfather’s mouth.

“Even if they don’t fight,” wearily affirmed the old man, and a silence descended upon the room.

“What if there’s a war here, grandpa,” mumbled Adam. “I’m scared.”

Cold fingers caressed the grandfather’s cheek, and a bitter taste filled his mouth. The fan’s comforting drone transmuted into the whizzing of a fighter jet overhead, and all of the browns and greens in the room coalesced into a transient picture of dark, evanescent forms and soaring dirt. His hand reached out to stroke Adam’s cheek as the air around him buzzed with the nerves of frightened children who awaited an answer from the one person they truly believed was right about everything.

“I’m not telling you this so that you can be afraid, Adam. None of you should be, and that’s exactly why we built the rainbow: as a memorial of light to negate the darkness surrounding children of war. Each color represents a reason not to be afraid.”

“What’s red?” blurted Ismail (he had once spent an entire summer memorizing all the colors of the rainbow in exceptional order, and was eager to show off that he knew exactly what the first color was).

     Red was for the spilled blood, gleaming and sticky on the ground, heavy with stories and memories once held in pumping hearts.

“Red represents what the people who survive remember in those who don’t, and the legends created from that.”

“Orange,” continued Ismael, immensely enjoying the game.

     Orange was for the blurred scene his ten-year-old eyes could hardly discern because he was moving too fast, and his tears were falling too slow.

“Orange is the reassurance that everything gets better.”

“Yellow,” volumes precariously rose as the other children gleefully joined in.

Yellow was for his ears gradually numbing to the sounds of blasting tanks and screeching fighter jets.

“Yellow calls for perseverance in times of hardship.”

“Green!” the children were yelling by now, giddy with a sense of power and delight.

     Green was for the cramped car they fled in, and his neighbor’s squirming body tucked beneath his feet.

“Green represents unity in times of distress.”

“Blue!” Most of the children had stood up by now, while others belted the word out like a song.

     Blue was for a father he left behind and a mother whose tight grip he can still feel on his fingers.

“Blue is proof that a hero can manifest in the most ordinary of people.”

“PURPLE!” the children finally bellowed in unison, punctuating their explosion by falling into a mass of cackles.

     Purple was for his still dreams. He felt his own beating heart and understood.

“Purple is a reminder that the world still operates in color, and you simply cannot miss any of its paintings.”

He doubted the children heard him over their own delightful squeals and roaring laughter, but the grandfather smiled nonetheless, his wrinkles deepening into valleys that spoke of the years and memories that created them, because frankly, that is exactly what he had wanted.


Get inspired with IRIS

IRIS (Inspiration, Reflection, Integrity, Success) is a drama program that works through challenges you might experience during your first year. From social pressures to academic challenges and issues of self-confidence, IRIS offers on- and off-campus support through a theatre production written, directed, scored and performed by your peers.

Meet 2017’s Production Team:

Photo of Jamie Kasiama.

Jamie Kasiama, Director

Jamie (Milay) Kasiama is a fourth year theatre, film studies, and multimedia student. She was a community advisor for Edwards Hall last year and is super excited to be supporting first year students and their transition into University through directing, writing, and multimedia design this year!

Photo of Lisa Ziegler.

Lisa Ziegler, Stage Manager

As a soon-to-be graduate of the theatre and film program, Lisa Ziegler has had the opportunity to work on eight productions associated with McMaster. Over the past few years she has been able to grow and develop as an artist through her experiences as a lighting operator/technician and designer, sound operator and designer, and costume/makeup design.  Her experiences have given her many opportunities to contribute to both the McMaster and Hamilton theatre community. She is excited to expand her experience as the Stage Manager of IRIS 2017.

Photo of Isabella Fan.

Isabella Fan, Music Director

When Isabella first joined IRIS as a pianist, her experience was full of discovery. As a writer avid for storytelling, she found the cast’s story of first year to be empowering and humbling. Now entering her third year of the Bachelor of Health Sciences program, Isabella’s own story becomes ever-complex with new experiences and people. She is thrilled to share this year’s IRIS story through music, and knows that you have an incredible first year journey awaiting you.

Photo of Jana Balakumaran.

Jana Balakumaran, Production Coordinator

Having just finished her third year of the Bachelor of Health Sciences program, Jana has always found a sense of freedom in the arts. IRIS has acted as an avenue for her to share her love for McMaster and artistic expression while welcoming the Class of 2021. The team has taken the stories of other marauders and woven them into an experience that they hope will bring you hope, make you feel less alone, and welcome you with open arms. As you get ready for first year, Jana hopes that you will be able to find something within this year’s production to carry with you throughout your time here at McMaster!

Photo of a student taking a selfie with Senator McMaster.

Orientation Doesn’t End with Welcome Week!

September to October 2017

Information to be announced in August!


Get more support by booking a 30-minute advising appointment through OSCARplus. You can also drop-in at the Student Success Centre (GH110) to learn more about your options.