SSC Academic Skills Orientation: Online header. This one says "Expectations versus Reality."


Hey Marauders!

I’m sure that you’ve learned a million anecdotes about what university will be like; we know that we certainly did. Whether it be the freshman 15 or endless all-nighters, we know that these myths can make university seem intimidating. Today we’re debunking four of the more common myths that we ran into before we started first-year.

1)  You have to buy everything before you arrive.

We went over packing lists over and over again, feeling like if we forgot something, it would be a tragedy. This is, however, completely unnecessary for a couple of reasons: 

  • Once you arrive at McMaster, you have all of Welcome Week to pick up stuff you may have forgotten about. Hamilton is a fairly large-sized city so there are lots of places both in and around campus where you can pick up anything that you forgot. 
  • You can also always shop after you get here. It’s a good idea to check out your room or connect with roommates before you buy certain items, like shelves or posters. 

Good luck shopping! 

Photo of food donations.
Photo of the Campus Store giveaway wheel.

2) Having a part time job or getting involved is bad for your studies.

While taking on commitments over and above your academic workload may seem intimidating, it may in fact be good for you and your studies. 

  • Extracurricular activities benefit students by improving their academic performance, helping to develop better time-management skills, and increasing senses of both commitment and responsibility (Jackson, 2017). 
  • Extracurricular activities require you to gain skills like learning to prioritize your time, and forcing you to improve your organizational skills. 

We understand that the idea of overextending yourself can be scary, but it is important to recognize that getting involved with the community here at McMaster can be an important learning experience. Your university experience isn’t about just what happens inside of  the lecture hall; so much can be learned by interacting with your new community. 

3) You’ll live on ramen and mac and cheese.

Before coming to university, many students feel that they will absolutely live off of junk food⁠—and some people do. This doesn’t have to be the only way, though. Whether you live on or off campus, there are definitely healthy meal options! 

Eating healthy can be a little expensive! This is true, but there are a lot of ways to eat healthy on a budget. 

  • Fortinos (on Main Street) and Food Basics (in Westdale) both offer 10% student discounts every Tuesday.
  • Shoppers Drug Mart offers a large selection of groceries and is 20% off for students on Thursdays. 
  • The Hamilton Farmers’ Market downtown supports local farmers and is super affordable! It’s not that far and, bonus, you’ll walk away with some really fresh produce.  

It can also be a little time consuming to eat healthy, but it doesn’t always have to be. 

  • Make quick and easy healthy meals like frozen vegetables, salads and soups! 
  • Bring lots of snacks to campus like rice cakes, hummus, veggies and granola. 
  • Remember, healthy food gives you energy, ramen does not. So while it may take a little more time to eat healthy, it’s worth it! 

bar and tables in twelve eighty
graduate and baby walking across stage at convocation

4) Your undergraduate degree isn’t worth it.

This is a common fear for both first-years and pretty much every student periodically throughout their degree. We all fear the future in regards to whether or not our degrees will make us employable. 

So, in response to this myth we thought that we would talk to Tanya Kett, a career development adviser here at the SSC, and this is what she had to say: 

“’What can I do with my degree?’ is a common question. I usually reply by asking: ‘What do you want to do and how can your degree help you get there?’ or even better: ‘What impact do you want to make?’ Think about your career from the perspective of your interests, personality, skills, and values. If you are not sure what those mean for you, consider attending our Career Planning Group during the academic year. Be open to opportunities, get involved and try new things to discover more about yourself and the world of work. 

Consider more than job titles. Titles evolve and emerge all the time. Instead, think about industries, or even types of employers you are interested in. That might give you a broader perspective to start, rather than narrowing things too quickly and possibly missing out on potential opportunities.

Finally, employers are interested in skills and experience which students have. Learn how to articulate those through your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn and interview to make a positive impact. Take a look at career ready skills and think about how you are gaining these skills through your program.” 

If you are still feeling overwhelmed about what the future has in store, the SSC offers appointments with career counsellors, job shadowing placements, and mentorship opportunities to help you feel more confident about your degree.

Ultimately, we’ve both found university to be completely different from what we had anticipated. It was honestly pretty scary to come to university with all these rumours in our heads, luckily we later found out most of them were false. We hope that in due time you come to see that university is not as scary as you may have anticipated. We know we did. 


Your Pals, 

Tabatha, Tory and Emily

Jackson, N. (2017, April 14). The role of extracurricular activities in a student’s development. Retrieved from The Educator.

By now we’re sure that you’ve heard that there are many differences between high school and university, especially academically. This can be a difficult transition to wrap your mind around, so today we thought that we would outline some of the differences that you can expect to see in university concerning workload, learning in class, and daily schedules. 

I’m sure that you’ve learned a million anecdotes about what university will be like; we know that we certainly did. Whether it be the freshman 15 or endless all-nighters, we know that these myths can make university seem intimidating. Today we’re debunking four of the more common myths that we ran into before we started first-year.

At this point in the summer you may be thinking about money. University is expensive and is often the first time students have some financial independence, which can be overwhelming. Nevertheless, it is very important that you stay on top of your financial situation. Today we will discuss financial wellness and give you some tips on how to ensure that your finances stay under control.

2 thoughts on “Mythbusters”

  1. I’ve always heard that you will have to pull all-nighters studying before exams/mid-terms and was wondering if you think that’s true? I know that it can be, but if you manage your time well is it reasonable to not do that? Being exhausted really doesn’t help on an exam.

    1. Thank you for question! It is absolutely not necessary that you pull all-nighters before exams/mid-terms. I’m going into my third year and have never even come close to staying up all night in order to prepare for a test. Like you mentioned, the key is proper time management. It is much better for both your health and your academics if you spread out studying and review in chunks as opposed to cramming the night before an assessment.

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