SSC Academic Skills Orientation: Online header. This one says "Welcome to University."

Mac Talk

Hey Marauders!

When people talk about university, they throw around a lot of acronyms. Here at Mac there are so many new terms that it can be overwhelming. When we were in first-year we found it very difficult to navigate campus and it was sometimes frustrating, especially when we would ask for directions and they were given completely in acronyms that we didn’t know yet. As a result, we hope to help you avoid this confusion, so in this post we will try to give you the gist of the acronyms and terms that you will need while you get comfortable here at Mac.

Residence Rep group photo
Photo from Faculty Fusion
Faculty reps during Welcome Week

ROR (or Residence Rep)

ROR stands for Residence Orientation Representative. If you live in res, these will probably be the first folks you meet on campus! RORs are dedicated volunteers who help first year students living on campus transition into residence. You will likely recognise them by their brightly coloured overalls. You can ask these people for help with anything; they’re here to support you.

Faculty Rep

These are the lovely people who volunteer to represent each faculty during Welcome Week and at various events throughout the year. Each group or faculty will be wearing different coloured jumpsuits. They are here to welcome you to your faculty and give you advice on how to navigate your first-year in your program.

You can tell the difference between faculty and residence reps in a few ways: 

  1. Most faculties wear suits that are coveralls, whereas residences wear overalls. 
  2. Residence reps usually have more pastel colours compared to faculties. 
  3. Residence reps usually have the name of the res that they are a part of painted down the leg of their suit.

CA

A CA is a Community Advisor. These are upper-year students who live in residence to help first years transition. They will host events throughout the year on their respective floors, check in on their students, conduct roommate agreements, and ensure that everyone is getting along okay.

McMaster University Student Centre
outside of L.R. Wilson
Michael Degroote Centre for Learning from the outside

MUSC

This stands for the McMaster University Student Centre. It is one of the largest buildings at Mac and is located in the centre of campus. A lot of Welcome Week events are hosted here and it features one of the only full-service Tim Hortons on-campus.

MDCL

This stands for the Michael Degroote Centre for Learning. It is a large building behind the hospital and is most notable for its indoor waterfall and large lecture halls.

BSB/BSB Field

This stands for the Burke Science Building, it is located in the middle of campus and has a large field in front of it which is conveniently named BSB (Burke science building) field.

JHE

This stands for the John Hodgins Engineering building, it is located in the centre of campus beside BSB and has a large monument of an engineering ring in front of it.  

Arts Quad

The Arts Quad is located on the north east side of campus behind MUSC. It is made up of three buildings: Togo Salmon Hall (TSH), Chester New Hall (CNH), and Kenneth Taylor Hall (KTH). However, Degroote School of Business (DSB) is also attached here, giving us license to call it a quad.

LRW

This stands for L.R. Wilson. You will likely be in this building a lot if you are an Arts student. It is one of the newest buildings on campus and houses McMaster’s main Concert Hall.

Joe Kim teaching in Mills Library
L.R. Wilson Lecture Hall
Hamilton Hall Math Cafe

TA

TA stands for teaching assistant. These are upper-year or graduate students who work for your professors. They often guide tutorials, answer questions you might have about the course and grade assignments/papers. TAs in your first-year classes are a great resource.

Now that you’ve got the basic names of key Mac buildings/people down, we will guide you through some of the more academic terminology that may be new.

Lectures, Tutorials and Office Hours:

  • Lectures are educational talks led by an instructor. This is where they deliver the majority of the course material, though they can also include some group work or discussion.
  • Depending on the course, tutorials are sometimes smaller scale lessons, discussions, or question periods facilitated by your Teaching Assistant (TA).
  • Both TAs and professors typically hold office hours. This is a designated time in the week when you can meet with them to talk about course content, upcoming assignments, or seek general guidance about course expectations.

12 point grade scale vs. letter grades:

  • McMaster uses a 12 point grading scale which corresponds with grades on the alphabetic and percentage scales. For example, an A+ grade (in the range of 90-100) is a perfect 12. An A grade (85-89) is an 11, and so on. Different universities use different grading systems, so it’s easy to get confused! Here is a handy conversion chart for if you ever need it.

Syllabus (or syllabi… the plural version of syllabus)

Basically, a syllabus tells you who your professor is, what they will cover, how they will cover it, how you will be evaluated, and identify required texts. Here’s a breakdown of the sections you will find in your syllabi, with reference to faculty-specific differences.

Logistics/Communication:

  • Right at the top of every syllabus is your professor’s office location, office hours and email. This is extremely useful when you want to ask a question in person or via email.

Assessments:

  • Depending on your program, you might find that you are given more information (rubrics, dates, guidelines) or less information (just evaluation weight) about each graded element.

Navigational Information:

  • Weekly topics & readings: This structure is more common in Humanities and the Social Sciences, but it might pop up elsewhere! It is very useful to reference this when you are planning your schedule, because you will know which weeks are the heaviest in terms of reading.
  • Schedule of labs: Knowing which lab you are in and when you need to be there can save you from accidentally being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

We hope this was helpful and that you feel prepared to take on all the lingo that University will throw at you!

 

Your pals,

Tabatha, Tory and Emily

Welcome to the first post in a series from Student Success Centre (SSC) Academic Skills! The next seven weeks will include daily posts to welcome you to university and help you learn many important academic skills that you will need throughout your time at Mac. As we welcome you to university in this first week, we’ll discuss all of the things you need to do before September and what to look forward to this year.

Coming to university was a really special experience for both of us. We started cooking and shopping for ourselves, following our own budget and scheduling our own time. One of the spookiest parts of all this was that we were suddenly in charge of our own learning. No one was taking attendance anymore, it was up to us to go to class every day, complete readings and schedule study sessions. This difference was a shock to us. That’s why today we’re here to talk to you about a few different ways you can master independence!

When people talk about university, they throw around a lot of acronyms. Here at Mac there are so many new terms that it can be overwhelming. When we were in first year we found it very difficult to navigate campus and it was sometimes frustrating, especially when we would ask for directions and they were given completely in acronyms that we didn’t know yet. As a result, we hope to help you avoid this confusion, so in this post we will try to give you the gist of the acronyms and terms that you will need while you get comfortable here at Mac.

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