Stories From The Arch:
Chronicles of a Mac Student
Time is really flying by! Tomorrow is the first official day of Fall and I can't believe that it's almost the end of the September. By now the excitement of Welcome Week has died down and with coursework piling on, the reality of the school year has set in. And on top of all of this, Reading Week is only two weeks away, which means that midterm season is right around the corner and it's time to start preparing yourself for those long nights of studying and/or writing essays.
Last week was the SSC’s first week of the #GetWithTheFlow digital series, and the focus was on getting with the flow of academics in university. So, I thought it would be useful to reflect on some of the ways my study habits have changed from first year, as well as the tools and resources I used to improve them.
I think it’s safe to say that we all want to do well and succeed, but in order to do so, we have to maintain a positive attitude and constantly work hard to achieve our goals. The end of the term can be stressful for many different reasons, but I think that for the most part, exams are the main contributors. How we tackle this time of the semester is crucial though, and we mustn’t lose our cool.
February is that time of the year where winter has dragged on just a little too long, midterms have either consumed you or are about to, and all you find yourself thinking about is the summer time. The February blues are normal, but the lack of warmth and stress-filled midterm season will be over soon.
Do you ever get the feeling that you’re stuck in a rut? It’s unsettling, it’s “blah,” and it’s seemingly unshakeable. Whether academic or creative, some cogs in your brain just don’t seem to be operating where they should be. You’re stuck in the same routine day in and day out, and you seem to lose touch with what you really care about. Well, if that’s you, I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone, and most importantly, that this feeling is shakeable.
I always see posts floating around social media titled ‘Top 10 Useless Degrees’ and ‘The Best Degrees of 2017’, which aim to highlight why certain majors are deemed ‘worthless’ or why others are “guaranteed” to make you a lot of money. Why are some fields of study considered so worthless over others? Who gave these authors the know-all anyways? These types of posts tend to irritate me to my core. Aside from being clickbait that drives traffic to a website, these types of posts also drive prestige to certain majors over others.
Lately I’ve been contemplating whether or not dropping one of my courses this semester is the best choice for me. There are a couple of reasons why this decision was difficult. I found myself constantly weighing out the pros and cons around how it would affect my chances of getting into medical school, something I’ve been planning to do for several years now. Change is something every person either has great trouble dealing with or embraces with open arms. Personally speaking, I don’t typically struggle with change. This time around, however, it wasn’t something I was completely ready to bring upon myself.
Okay so, maybe your notes are now beginning to make a lot more sense and bring actual value to your studying, but now there’s a new problem: you don’t know how to study. But that can’t be entirely true, you are in University after all… Based on my personal experience, when I exhaust the same studying technique over and over I fall into a rut. A rut of repetitive mentally draining activities that in the end are only harming me. Take this with a grain of salt- everyone’s different.
I think I speak for most students when I say that midterm season means heightened stress, social media overload, and procrastination like never seen before. Midterm season is a force to be reckoned with, but there’s a silver lining. Midterm season means we’re that much closer to the sweet freedom of the holidays (right after exams season that is…).
Anywhere you go, whether in your own country or another, you will experience some form of a cultural shock. While living and studying in France, I came across a few basic everyday differences that I had to overcome.
As we head into our much-anticipated fall break, the distraction and procrastination that accompanies it is just an arm’s reach away. However, I’m not here to guilt you. I think we could all benefit from some time off to just sit back and relax.
When I started my first year of university I didn’t really know what to expect. How do I deal with the increased workload? How do I study? How do I meet new people and network with my professors? These were just some of the questions I asked myself over and over. I knew it was going to be a big change, but I also knew it was going to be the beginning of some of the best years of my life.
Well Marauders, a new year is among us and it’s time to get with the flow!
Transitioning is never easy, but unfortunately, it’s a change we all have to endure. I’m usually a mess the night before. I refuse to sleep and just stay up thinking of ways to make a lot of money without having to attend school. However, something I’ve noticed is that my nerves of starting a new year typically go away after the first day or so (or at least in my case anyways). After I go to a lecture or two, grab a Willy Dog, and stand in the never-ending Starbucks line, I begin to feel at home again.
Productivity is pretty subjective. What you consider to be a productive day may not be so productive to another. Despite its subjectivity, one thing that remains common many is the need to do better with each passing day.
This summer I will be rewriting the MCAT for my second time. For those of you who may not be too familiar with it, the MCAT is a seven and a half hour long Medical College Admissions Test. Made up of four testing blocks, the MCAT will test your knowledge and comprehension on a variety of topics within the domains of biology and biochemistry, chemistry and physics, psychology and sociology, and critical analysis and reasoning skills. With every medical school in Canada requiring the student to achieve a competitive score to even be considered, the MCAT is nothing short of stressful and every aspiring doctor’s worst nightmare.
No matter whom I run into, talk to, or meet, my chosen major is always one of the topics of discussion. It’s not wrong to ask someone about their major, but sometimes it can be stressful if you don’t exactly know if it’s the right one for you.
As I sit in my favourite coffee shop trying to write this post, I’m coming to realize the frustrations of writer’s block. None of the topics I’m writing down seem to work.
With my inspiration and creativity slowly winding down, I’ve come to realize that there really is no better time to relax and destress. When we are constantly working, whether for a summer job or school, forgetting to rest can result in feelings of exhaustion and burnout.
And that’s exactly what I’m feeling…
Throwback to my first year, wobbling around with my oversized Roots backpack, stepping foot on campus in total awe of all the adventures yet to come - a ball of nerves and excitement wrapped into one. I remember Frosh week and Clubfest as clear as day. I was a curious and energetic soul ready to explore, strive, and learn something from anyone in sight. It was a time to start fresh and present myself any way I wanted to be. A time to diversify myself with new people and discover fresh interests.
It's reading week! YEESSSSSSS!! You've been WAITING for this breath of fresh air for so long.
Free from waking up every day to a strict schedule of classes, balancing a slew of meetings, assignments, and midterms. Home sweet home... at last!
That is until, you are actually reminded what exactly reading week entails... Home.
Oh man, has it been a hectic week! Balancing work and school alone is chaotic without even mentioning family life, social life, and (most importantly!) regulating food and sleeping habits! Does anyone else feel like courses give an illusion of “smooth sailing” at the beginning of the semester and then, BAM, BAM, BAM! Everything is due one day after the next, as our poor souls chug down coffee after coffee, mess up sleep and eating patterns, and scurry to meet deadlines with the best quality of work we can muster half-awake. Trust me, you are NOT alone!
You’re walking to class and you pass by a billboard with a bunch of flyers on it. Your eyes glance across a couple of them: “Student Leadership Conference in January”; “A Long Night Against Procrastination”; “Mary Keyes Certificate”; “Company Coffee Chats” … “These events all sound so interesting” - you think to yourself. Then your vision stumbles over the same repetitive phrase on each poster: “Register on OSCARplus!” Suddenly, going to those events feels like a lot of work.
Are you the type to feel daunted by a big scary task with an upcoming deadline? Or, even the type to not care about it until the very last minute, and just whip up a copy of whatever your brain can muster, half-asleep, in the AM’s of the night? Or, how about the type to constantly ask for extensions from your professors, throwing you into a whirl of guilt, MSAFs and stress, barely sliding through your semester? Well, guess what? Me too! Unfortunately, very few people that I know are free from this curse.
I have listened to so many motivational speeches, but this one really got me. Shonda Rimes, the director and writer behind Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder speaks about the challenges and happiness that has given her life meaning. While she speaks about her career and her life as a parent, it relates so heavily to the struggles we face while at university.
As the school year comes to a start, you should be thinking about building habits that will help you to succeed. Probably the first suggestion people will tell you is to put away the phone because it’s a distraction. I think that’s a bit close minded because your phone is a brilliant little piece of technology that has adapted to be a device of success. I encourage you to take advantage of downloadable apps that will make your life ten times easier this year in university.
We all know it's crucial to get on your professors' good side, but how do we go about forging those relationships? Chantal Godin, a recent graduate of McMaster University, has some great advice for those of you who want to work on these connections without being too "goody-goody." Check out her recent post on Unwritten to get some tips!
This week was one of the biggest weeks in some our lives; we graduated, we finally did it!
This year, I applied to grad school. You thought applying to undergrad was confusing? Wait till you try this, it makes undergrad applications seem like a walk in the park. With more experience and a greater focus on your interests, the task of sifting through hundreds of schools and hundreds of specialized topics, all of which start blurring into one another becomes an overwhelming and monstrous feat. In addition to this, you will most likely have zero ideas of how to approach any of it when getting started.
After all these months writing for the blog, I decided to try something new – a vlog! Watch my very first vlog interview with Jenn from the SSC as we discuss some of her top tips for exam success.
I vow to always announce where the destress events and free food will be during exams. Why? Because I believe that in order to get better grades we need to be calm, collected, and properly fueled with free food and coffee. So, here are just some of the free food and events happening during exams.
Yesterday I was invited to the Morningfile segment on CFMU to speak with host, Ingie Metwally, about what’s up next for the blog! If you’re curious as to what’s going to be happening with WCG over the summer, or if you want to hear how you could have a chance to write for the blog, listen to what we spoke about in our interview!
This year I have had a mid-term pretty much every week. I dread them, but at least they keep me up-to-date on the course content. My years of mid-term experiences have left me with some insights that I’d like to pay forward. Here are my Do’s and Don’ts for making it through the mid-term season.
Since starting my degree at McMaster four years ago, I have been given some of the most amazing opportunities through the Anthropology department and the Social Sciences faculty. From becoming a co-author in a book, to revisiting the past through studying material culture, anthropology has allowed me to do so much more than I had ever imagined.
I really don’t know how March got here so fast, but I will be officially done my undergraduate degree in the next few months…which is crazy! To try and keep my head above water with all the competing work and responsibilities, I’ve decided to set some personal goals this month and I’m going to try my best to stick to them.
Do you want the chance to win? The Student Success Centre wants to hear from you! Tell us what you think by filling out our survey.
This post is inspired by Ariel. No, not the red-headed mermaid that lives under the sea, rather one of my co-workers; or at least she was one of my co-workers as little as 24 hours ago. Ariel just ended her contract with the SSC and will be moving to the London area to continue pursuing her career in marketing and communications – congrats Ariel!!
I found out today while going through my morning emails that there is a Graduate school event in Toronto called the QS World Grad School Tour Toronto, happening on the 30th of January. If you’re like me, and really don’t know if grad school is for you, this might be a good event to attend.
Holiday office party season is here!! Before you start listing out excuses as to why you can’t (or just don’t want to) attend, hear me out for a second.
Who else is totally overwhelmed by exams? Because right now; I am. While I am NOT looking forward to another week and a half of non-stop studying, I am pretty happy that our school makes up for the stress of exams with free events and food.
As you know, Bloggers at Mac and I have done a little bit of collaboration for our blogs. The article I wrote, called “Illiterate to Blogger: My Journey Through Writing,” is about a more personal topic on some struggles I had in school while growing up. It’s something I don’t normally share with people, but I’ve realized that its a pretty big feat that I have accomplished. I guess I am just proud of how far I have come, and I hope to continue to be successful in my development.
For all of the final year students here at Mac, let me start by saying I know that this is one of the most stressful times of the year. I have been speaking with a couple graduating students on campus, and many of us are unaware that applications for graduate level jobs start in October, and run through to January. If you’re feeling a little misguided about the steps you should be taking towards preparing for the career field, I’m hoping this post will help with the process.
While it doesn’t feel like it, we are already halfway, if not more than halfway through first semester. I don’t know about you, but I feel it; the Mid – Semester Slump. In other words, I feel the strong lack of motivation that comes after completing endless midterms and assignments.
I find it amusing that when I say something along the lines of, “oh, yeah, I have too much work to do, can’t go out tonight!” because what it usually means is “oh, yeah, I have about 4 hours of Netflix, Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook to browse instead of working on the four essays I have to do, kind of can’t go out tonight!”