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QUESTIONS

For a Mac Honours Bachelor of Social Work Student...

JUICY

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How would you describe your first year experience?

My first year at McMaster was probably one of the best years of my life. I made lifelong friends, got into social work (which I have come to realize

is a dream career for me),

attended a good university, and overall, happy with who I am and how far I have come. I learned new things and have further educated myself on numerous topics whether it is socially or politically, due to the courses I chose to take. Not only was it completely different from highschool, but university was truly a step forward in my life and I have had experiences that I have never had in my

life until now. Whenever asked about my experiences at Mac, I always have positive things to say and I hope that others have similar experiences.

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Why did you choose your program? What makes it unique to you?

Upon entering McMaster University I did not know what I wanted to do so I chose an undeclared major in the faculty of Social Science. With that in mind, I decided to take social science courses and amongst many I took social work. Throughout the course, I really enjoyed social work and felt confident that it was a program I would enjoy pursuing. After completing the fall semester I took the second course that would allow me to apply for the program as it has a separate application. Social work stood out to me through the course material which

discussed various social issues and what a social worker can do to better impact the world and the people helped through social work. Along with the ongoing movement of ensuring the police institution is defunded, social workers will replace certain aspects of a police officer's “job” to gurauntee the safety of others. One example is the wellness checks that are currently being done by police officers and in various causes result in the murder of victims. As a student who has been accepted in the social work program, I find it my duty to ensure the safety of those who need it. Social work has spoken

to me on many occasions but the willingness to help

and ensure change in this world is what calls me

the most.

How would you describe the workload and work-life balance?

Balancing workload and work-life was quite difficult the first semester because of the unexpected transition into a new era in my life. I underestimated the workload and how difficult university will be which made it that much harder to balance. At the time, I had a job and 

I was also seeing a counsellor and with the workload of 5 courses on top, I struggled a lot and did not know how to balance the stress of coming to classes as early as 9am and as late as 9pm. This resulted in me dropping a course which I was ashamed of saying before, but now I truly understand the weight of balancing life and school making it easier for me to speak about dropping the course. Initially, I had 16 hours of class a week but after dropping a course it went down to 12 hours a week (which I only dropped a week before exams as I was failing the course). The reason for dropping the course was I was not able to handle the workload outside of class along with the dislike of the course content. Halfway into the course I realized I did not enjoy the course material which decreased the amount of effort I put into the course during

class and outside of class. Outside of class, completing homework and assignments was about 10 hours, added on top of my job and taking time for myself, was a lot for me to handle, especially considering I believed it would not be much different than high school. Obviously, I was wrong. Once the second semester started, I knew what to expect and this time around I managed to balance my workload and work-life more efficiently.

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What is some advice you would give high school students when applying to your program?

As a student who did not know what they wanted to do upon entering university, I strongly recommend that one looks into all the options. Meaning look into the program that speaks to you the most, and search through all the career options within that program. I suggest this because once an individual enters university, they are exposed to numerous career choices they did not know existed but often it is too hard to switch into or even scary to leave what they would be enrolled in. That way, an individual will know their options before committing to a career that may not be of interest, which happens quite often.

In your opinion, what's the most difficult adjustment to make when going from high

school to university?

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As I said, I completely underestimated the difficulty of transitioning from high school to university, resulting in me failing then dropping a course. In my

opinion, the most difficult adjustment from high school to university was the struggle to keep up with my workload, work-life, and also attempting to make new friends and time for my new friends. These three tied together were the most difficult things to tackle. Starting a new era in your life, you are given the opportunity to start fresh and present yourself the way you would like. Keeping

that in mind, along with the struggle of ensuring you are doing well in your courses and balancing certain aspects of your life, it became too much on my

mind. After 4 years of high school and being viewed a certain way, once I left and met thousands upon thousands of new people, university was that chance for

everyone to start fresh and make their own label, which I did. To reiterate, the hardest adjustment was balancing my personal life and school life, due to me

underestimating the level of difficulty of transitioning from high school to

university.

A very special thank you to our interviewee...

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SAJA EL-SAYAH

A Second Year Honours Bachelor of Social Work Student at McMaster University.