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

Welcome to University!

Hey Marauders!

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.

But first, let’s introduce ourselves.

Photo of Tory

I’m Tory!

I’m going into my third year of Arts & Science with a combination in Philosophy. Academically speaking, I’m kind of all over the place. I’ve found that I’ve enjoyed my classes in pretty much every subject area and I’m combining largely because I felt like I needed some focus. Outside of university, I love to cook and spend many nights baking while hanging out with my dogs. Other than that, most of my time is spent either watching Netflix or at the gym.

Photo of Emily.

I’m Emily!

This is my second year working with SSC Academic Skills. I just finished my undergrad in English and Cultural Studies with a Minor in Women’s Studies. In September, I am sticking around at Mac to start my Master’s in Cultural Studies and Critical Theory. My research interests intersect somewhere between critical literacy and queer representation, but I’m still figuring out next steps after my Masters —so don’t feel like you have to have everything figured out right now! I feel most connected to university when I am accountable to things other than my studies, so I’m excited to be stage managing McMaster Musical Theatre’s Mamma Mia! in the upcoming year.

Photo of Tabatha

I’m Tabatha!

I’m going into my fourth year of Social Psychology with a minor in Sociology. My main academic interests are in critical writing and the application of social psychological theories to helping professions, like Social Work. Outside of academia, I’m passionate about cats and knitting. If I’m not writing essays or studying for midterms, I’m probably watching Netflix, cooking with friends, or knitting a blanket!

Together, we are the SSC Academic Skills student staff this summer and we feel so lucky to have this line of communication with the Class of 2023! We hope that through sharing our advice, as well as our own experiences, we are able to help you feel prepared and excited for the upcoming year.

We remember what it felt like to be in your shoes. The nervousness, stress, and excitement can be overwhelming as you prepare for university. That’s why we’re here to help!


Before I went to university, I had no idea what to expect and honestly, it was a little terrifying. I didn’t know if I would have enough money, if I would fit in, or if I would make any new friends. I wasn’t friends with anyone going to Mac, so I was starting fresh here. When I moved into my residence, Wallingford Hall, I was immediately relieved to meet Residence Reps, a group of people whose entire job is to help you adjust to university. From the minute I got out of my parents’ car, I was surrounded by people who were there to help me.

It’s important to remember that most people are scared before they go to university. The people who don’t seem scared are probably faking it. I’m happy to tell you that I did make friends, even though it didn’t happen right away. It took me a while to feel comfortable with the girls I lived with. While there were lots of good people around me, I wasn’t as social or extroverted and I didn’t feel like I fit in. At times it was lonely. I missed my parents and my cats. Something that helped me was realizing that this is a totally normal experience. When I opened up about feeling lonely to other first-year students, I found that most people felt the same way I did.

Good things take time and, at first, everything might not be perfect. It took some time for me to find my friends, adjust to living away from home, balance a heavier workload, and remember that it’s better to do dishes right after eatingdon’t just put your dirty dishes in a plastic container under your bed. Anyway, the point is, I was fine and you will be too. Here at Mac, there are lots of people who are here to help and support you, including myself and Tory.


Transitioning to university brings different challenges depending upon what your living situation is going to be in the upcoming year. I’ve found that as an off-campus student I definitely faced different stressors than my on-campus friends. One rumour that I found particularly scary was that, by living at home, I was going to miss out on the “authentic university experience.” I didn’t quite understand what people meant by this, but I assumed it was the Hollywood college image of dorm rooms, dining hall food and late night shindigs with friends from res. It felt as if there was only one way to be a proper university student, and the idea of missing out on that was unsettling. However, as I transitioned into university, I soon realized that there is no singular university experience. Many people have unique situations and no two people’s university experiences will be the same.

The second thing that concerned me throughout the summer leading into first-year was the fear that I would not make friends. Since I lived off campus, the idea of being best friends with my roommate had to be immediately thrown out the window, and if I couldn’t make friends in res, where was I going to meet people? It turns out that there are actually a ton of ways to make friends aside from living on campus. You can meet people in classes, clubs, as well as at work or through volunteering. There are endless ways to make friends regardless of your living situation.

Finally, I was terrified about how I was going to manage living at home alongside my newfound desire for complete independence and freedom. I knew that many of my friends would be living on their own and making all of their own decisions, but I still had a mom and dogs to worry about! While this was stressful, I found that I just needed to communicate with my family about what I was looking for in my university experience, and listen to what they expected of me as someone who was still living in their home. Once solid expectations were identified, things ran far more smoothly.

Regardless of whether or not you are worried about the same things that we were, here are our hopes for you:

  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 you appreciate your unique university experience.
  4.    That you feel as welcomed and supported as possible
  5.    That you exercise patience with yourself as you enter this new experience

Tomorrow’s post will serve as an introduction to being an independent University student. Specifically, we will discuss our own experiences with budgeting, balancing fun and work and setting reminders to help you prepare for the year ahead of 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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