Week One of SSC Academics

Expectations 101

Supported by global voices near and far, SSC Academics Online will welcome you to university, help you manage your time & find balance, walk you through learning in lectures, and set you up to be a university learner. Welcome home, Marauder!

Hey! I’m Emily, the Program Support Assistant (Academics) here in the SSC. I feel really lucky to have this line of communication with the incoming class of 2022, and I’m happy to share this platform with my peers across disciplines and across the world! We are all so excited to be able to welcome you to Mac.

To start things off, here are a few facts about myself (and what they might actually reveal):

1. I’m in English/Cultural Studies with a minor in in Women’s Studies.

I love that my degree encourages me to think critically about music videos and literature alike; this helps me connect my studies to the practical world around me.

2. Sometimes when I binge watch a lot of Netflix, I think of it as studying.

I am easily distracted but I make the best of it—watching TV counts as studying culture, doesn’t it? In reality, I have learned that I really enjoy thinking about visual culture even when I’m not actually studying it.

3. My favourite movie of all time is The Parent Trap (1998).

I can’t imagine ever loving another movie this much. I can never quite put my finger on why I’m still so drawn to it, but it probably has something to do with my love of stories about finding friendship in unexpected places.

Here is an introduction to some of the other McMaster students who you will be hearing from over the next few weeks:

Photo of a student.

Jayda Hunte (St. Lucia), Engineering

Favourite place on campus: The gym! It’s my getaway after a long day of classes

Favourite food: Fried calamari accompanied by a sweet chili sauce

Photo of a student.

Hajirah Mian (Canada), Humanities

Favourite place on campus: The benches near faculty club!

Favourite Food: Nihari! Its a beef stew ethnic to south Asia!! It’s so good—try it with some naan.

Photo of a student.

Gustavo Chen (Brazil), Engineering

Favourite place on campus: Bates residence! I have a lot of memories in that building.

Favourtite food: Brazilian “feijoada”

Photo of a student.

Annie Wang (Canada), Life Science

Favourite place on campus: The pulse. It’s the only place where I displace my emotions in a healthy way.

Favourite food: Sushi!

Photo of a student.

Katherine Grace (Indonesia), Engineering

Favourite place on campus: IAHS Library

Favourite food: Seafood and anything with lots of spice!

Photo of a student.

Jennifer Chan (Canada), Kinesiology

Favourite place on campus: 3rd floor student centre! There’s a really nice spot next to CIBC Hall with tables and chairs and a whole row of windows overlooking the edge of campus, and a patio. It’s a pretty place to study, eat, or just sit by yourself.

Favourite food: You will usually see me carrying a box of berries around and sharing them with friends, but I also can’t resist a bag of chips.

But first, here are some of the expectations I had before coming to university:

I expected University classes would be unimaginably different from high school ones.

This was truer in some cases than in others. What surprised me the most was the timeline of each class. Assignments and midterms snuck up on me because I was used to work being spread out across a longer semester. Professors’ expectations were also significantly higher, but it didn’t feel unbearably different. Overall, I held onto familiar elements so that the fast pace didn’t overwhelm me.

At the same time, I thought I already had the necessary skills for university.

Again, this turned out to only be partially true. The curiosity and work ethic I had in high school serve me well in university but I realised that I had so much more to learn. I am still learning how to be a better reader, writer, thinker, and communicator. University is one place that you are constantly encouraged to grow as a student and as a person—I know I feel lucky to be in a space where we can ask questions, be challenged, and learn together.

I expected that my grades would drop 15% from my high school ones.

This turned out to not be true for me. What was true is that there was a steep learning curve in most of my classes. I often received lower grades on first assignments/tests because I didn’t pay close enough attention to my professors’ expectations. Overall, a grade drop is possible and not uncommon; every student in every discipline is going to have a different experience. That being said, I would have been glad to know that such a huge drop was not inevitable.

I expected that I was just going to be a number in the system.

I realised this wasn’t true very early on. As it turns out, there are people every step of the way who want you to reach your goals while staying happy and healthy. The population increase from high school to university doesn’t mean that there is a lack of empathy here. Stay tuned for our posts this Thursday and Friday to learn more about the resources available to you as a McMaster student.

I also expected that I would get by without coffee! As it turns out, there are a number of things that I believed about university that ended up not being entirely true.

Whether or not you still worry about these (and other) myths, my hopes for you are:

  1. That your classes aren’t as scary as they seem
  2. That you see the strengths you already have but are willing to grow
  3. That your degree doesn’t seem like an uphill battle from the start
  4. That you feel as welcomed and supported as possible
  5. That you’ve started a coffee fund

Tomorrow’s post will serve as a Syllabus 101 and an introduction to some of the language used at university so you can walk on campus already feeling in the loop.



Join the conversation: what’s one myth you’ve heard about university?

Read this week’s posts.

Is everything I heard about university true? Will it be unimaginably different from high school? Will I really just be a number in the system or will people want to help me? Read Expectations 101 to find answers to these and other questions you might have.

What even is a syllabus? Do I really have to care about it? What is the difference between a lecture and a tutorial? Find answers to these and other questions in Syllabus 101!

What does it mean to be independent at university? Will I be able to relate to my peers and make connections with them? Should I think about different kinds of independence and how prepared I am for them? Think about these (and other) questions in Independence 101!

2 thoughts on “Expectations 101”

  1. One thing that people have told me that I think isn’t true is that you can skip classes in University and still get a good grade. I think that while this may be true for some classes, it probably isn’t for most.

    1. Great point! One thing that I realised was that professors often highlight specific items or provide commentary in lectures and don’t put those thoughts anywhere else. This supports your suspicion—there is definitely merit in going to class, even if people say otherwise!

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