What I learned in second-year, as a fourth-year student

During your second year of university, you may experience a more challenging course load and a different routine than your first year. Some students say that the second year of university is the hardest of all years, but from my experience, here are ways to make your second year less challenging.

September 18, 2023

By: Destiny (5th year, Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour)

1. Invest time in building your skills

Everyone wants to succeed, get good grades, and feel confident in their academic abilities but you may encounter challenges. From my experience, having the right strategies for you to improve your confidence academically, can really help.

I recommend visiting the Writing and Academic Skills Hub in Mills Library L215. The writing and academic skills services are prepared to help boost your academic confidence and provide feedback on a variety of skills, such as writing and comprehension.

2. Book an academic advising and career coaching appointment

Do you enjoy your program? Do you like your courses? If you have ever been stumped by these questions or responded negatively, you are not alone!  You can book an academic appointment on OSCARplus for a writing advisor, academic coach or an academic peer mentor. You can also find an academic advisor from your faculty to discuss your program and any additional thoughts you have.

Second-year students can also join a program called Level Up: A Second-Year Academic and Career Program, which is an 8-week program created in partnership with career counsellors to build confidence in your academics, career choices and as a McMaster student.

A career coach can help you decide what you want to do with your degree and determine what career suits you. 

If you’ve taken a course you do not enjoy, you can try to register for courses that interest you or have lighter coursework to keep you motivated and relaxed throughout the year. Check out the academic calendar or your faculty/program website for more information.

3. Find a peer mentor  

Find someone who is approachable, like-minded and similar to you (whether in identity or experiences). You can start by searching for peer mentors in your faculty or program available to all students. There are peer mentors offered for international students, academic peer mentors and the access program for equity-deserving students at the Student Success Centre. This way, you can have someone to support and guide you throughout your time at university 

4. Join events or clubs 

It is hard to balance academics and social life, however, making space in your day to participate in social events or activities can support your emotional well-being and sense of belonging in the university. You can also join course-specific study groups. I recommend following social media accounts created for your faculty and program to check for student events and social gatherings. 

These are just some ways to make your second year less challenging. You can also find other ways to make the most out of your university experience.  

Destiny (she/her) is a program support assistant for the Student Success Centre’s (SSC) Academic Skills Team. She is in her fifth year of the Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour program here at McMaster University. Outside of school, she loves creating digital art, reading and spending time with friends and family.