By: Tory Dockree and Tabatha May
Many people talk about how there are big differences between high school and university.
Before we got here, this difference was something that we were pretty worried about. Specifically, we worried that “different” would mean less community and more isolation. In high school, we enjoyed the community that came with scheduled lunches, school plays, clubs, taking the bus, etc. We didn’t want this to go away.
Thankfully—it didn’t. McMaster is bursting with community.
We do understand that this new community can be intimidating, so we thought that we would take some time today to outline some of the ways in which Mac will be similar to and different from high school. If you didn’t like high school, remember that University comes with a lot of changes. But if you did like high school, we hope that these changes won’t stress you out! We are all here to support you.
McMaster will probably be similar to high school in a few ways:
Much like many high schools, McMaster has a variety of clubs; however, since our school is so large, there will probably be far more of them. Mac has a club for everything from a liver foundation to our own jack.org chapter. If you don’t find a club that you want to participate in, you can also always make your own!
McMaster also hosts a lot of events, like formals, which will probably seem similar to those at your high school. However, much like with clubs, because the school is larger and has a lot of resources, there will probably be far more events that you can go to. Every year, there are a wide array of events from drag queen performances to all-night anime marathons.
Finally, you will find that there is a sense of community similar to what you may have found in high school; it just represents itself in a different way. There are so many different means of getting involved, and so many different people that you can meet on campus—there truly is a place for everyone.
I have found that I’ve been able to find a community on campus in ways that I hadn’t initially expected. I work at the Campus Store throughout the school year and have found it to be a great way to meet other students, particularly ones who aren’t in my program. I’ve made a lot of unexpected friends through just chatting behind the register and it’s a small community that I am very proud to be a member of!
McMaster will probably be different from high school in a few ways:
McMaster has about 30,000 students. While this may seem intimidating, it can also be very freeing. Belonging to a larger student community can open up many new opportunities, as well as provide you with a lot more freedom than you might have had in secondary school.
McMaster is also connected to the larger Hamilton community. We are partnered with many community organizations, hospitals, research groups, etc. These partnerships provide McMaster students with amazing opportunities to be a part of Hamilton communities.
Your university schedule will be very different than the one that you followed in high school. This can affect how you engage with the Mac community because different opportunities take place at different times and since each person has a different class schedule, there could be conflicts. Ultimately, it’s just important to know what your priorities are and ensure that you are scheduling accordingly.
I volunteer through an on-campus organization called Open Circle. Open Circle partners with Hamilton organizations such as the Inasmuch Women’s Shelter, or the Welcome Inn Community Centre in North Hamilton where I volunteer. While I’ve enjoyed the sense of community that’s come along with volunteering with other McMaster students, it’s also been an absolute joy to make connections more broadly with the Hamilton community. I love the Community Centre and it makes me really happy to be a part of the North Hamilton community as well as a McMaster volunteer community.
Ultimately, we want you to know that university doesn’t have to be a lonely place. Since coming to McMaster we’ve both found that this university is full of community; you just have to look for it. With that being said, it’s also okay to feel lonely. Everyone is different and not everybody feels connected right away. It took us some time before we really got involved and experienced a sense of community. Please exercise patience and give yourself time, but know that even if McMaster doesn’t feel like a home at first, you can make it one.
About Tory and Tabatha
I’m going into my third year of Arts & Science with a combination in Philosophy.
I’m going into my fourth year of Social Psychology with a minor in Sociology.