MCMASTER UNIVERSITY

McMaster University is located in Hamilton, and comprises 57 buildings, 122 programs, and over 21 500 students [1]. It was first established in the year 1887 and is split into six different academic facilities: Degroote School of Business,  Engineering, Health Sciences, Humanities, Social Sciences, and Science [2] . They’re known as the McMaster Marauders with their mascot named “Mac the Marauder.” The institution is home to over 300 student organizations and clubs, however, they do not recognize any fraternities or sororities [2]. Their main academic policy is known as the “McMaster Model,” which focuses on a student-centred, problem-based, interdisciplinary approach to learning which has been used since the 1960s [2]. Only 3700 students live in twelve on-campus residences with a range of building sizes and dormitory styles [1]. Finally, McMaster University is a member of a group of research intensive Canadian universities known as the U15 [2].

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References

[1] MyBlueprint, core.myblueprint.ca/V5/PostSecondary/CollegeUniversity.

[2] “McMaster University.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 10 July 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McMaster_University.

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For a Nursing Student at McMaster...

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

Grades: 

  • Achieve grades in the high 80s to low 90s at minimum to be competitive for most nursing schools in Ontario.

  • Ensure that you have the prerequisite courses you need to apply to nursing programs, which typically includes English, biology, chemistry, and mathematics. 

  • Review the admission statistics provided by Common University Data Ontario (CUDO) to help you decide where you should apply. 

Extracurricular Activities: 

  • Choose extracurricular activities that resonate with your interests and values. You do not want to be overwhelmed with commitments that are meaningless to you. Take on leadership roles to build a diverse skill set. 

  • Volunteer or participate in a co-op term at a hospital, clinic, or long-term care home. Familiarize yourself with what it is like to interact with patients and their families. Connect with health care professionals and ask questions to gain insight into different career pathways. 

CASPer: 

  • Try sample CASPer questions and read different responses to the scenarios. Reflect on if you successfully demonstrated personal and professional qualities while considering multiple perspectives. 

  • Write in a concise manner to clearly get across your points. Think before you start answering the questions so that you will be able to develop creative ideas and convey your understanding of the scenarios effectively.

  • Have a plan for where you will take the CASPer test. You will need access to a strong internet connection and a quiet environment without distractions to minimize interruptions. 

Location: 

  • Keep in mind where the school is located and how you will navigate public transportation. You can have different clinical/service learning experiences depending on if you live in an urban or rural region. The location of the school also affects its catchment area. Nursing students are usually responsible for arranging their travel to clinical/service learning placement experiences. 

Do you feel there’s a good support/transition program for freshman students at Mac?

As an incoming nursing student at McMaster University, you will be introduced to countless services and resources that provide support and ease the transition into university. The McMaster University Nursing Students’ Society (MUNSS) represents the voices of nursing students and organizes academic and social events to enhance the university experience. Your level representatives will raise awareness on what the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) and Canadian Nursing Students’ Association (CNSA) do for nursing students too. The nursing program also has its very own mentorship program. You will be assigned to a “Nursing Upper Year Buddy” (NUB) who will be more than happy to answer any of your questions or concerns. Peer tutors are upper year students that you can find in the Centre for Simulation-Based Learning (CSBL) to help you practice clinical skills and prepare for upcoming midterms and exams.

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

Nursing was the right decision for me as it bridges the gap between the sciences and arts. I have always been fascinated by health care and wanted to continue learning at the intersection of disciplines in my post-secondary education. I also love the flexibility that nursing offers. Nursing has different specialities that you can choose from (e.g. cardiovascular

nursing, emergency nursing, and oncology nursing). If you find that you have a change of heart in the type of nursing you are interested in, you will be able to make the switch into another speciality. You may end up working at a hospital, clinic, school, or military to name a few settings. Nursing opens doors to career pathways in research, education, and other sectors too. 

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

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My transition into university was not as tumultuous as I anticipated. I spent approximately 14 to 17 hours per week in class for my 1st year. The flexibility that university offers in terms of scheduling academic and extracurricular commitments allowed me to get more involved inside and outside of the classroom. I would say that Grades 11 and 12 were more challenging for me! I think that the  Problem-Based Learning (PBL) approach of the nursing program at McMaster helped set me up for success. The self-directedness of the classes facilitates an immersive learning environment through the development of interpersonal and critical thinking skills from group assignments and discussion. The mix between clinical and theory classes keeps the work interesting because everything is so different. I might be writing an essay or practicing for a skills assessment! I can focus on the traditional lecture classes which I find to be more rigorous accordingly.

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Programs: 

  • Know the differences between the scope of practice for Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs) and Registered Nurses (RN). Do not mistakenly apply for the incorrect programs! There are also accelerated nursing programs for students who have completed at least 2 years of university studies i.e. not high school students. 

  • Consider applying to programs outside of nursing if you are unsure about your career pathways. It may be difficult to change your program once you have started nursing since most of the classes are specific to nursing students. 

Curriculum: 

  • Go over the program maps at different universities and compare the sequences of classes for them. Although the nursing curriculum is fairly standardized in Ontario, schools may vary in their teaching methods and how they choose to integrate the sciences and arts. 

  • Read the course outlines for the classes you are expected to take in the nursing program. They will clarify if you will enjoy the coursework and look forward to becoming a nursing student. throughout the program. 

Research Opportunities: 

  • Find out about the research opportunities you have as a nursing student. Establish if you will be able to engage in independent study and research project classes. 

Degree Options: 

  • Research the degree options available to nursing students at different universities. For example, University of Western Ontario and Queen’s University offer concurrent/dual degrees for students to complete 2 programs in less time. 

Schools: 

  • Look into collaborative nursing programs that College partners run. They often allow you to earn the same degrees as students at their respective university site. The admission requirements are usually lower while providing similar nursing education opportunities. 

  • Attend campus tours or open houses. Meet with upper year students and faculty members to hear about their experiences at the schools you are interested in. You will be able to get a sense of the community spirit and what sets each school apart from other schools too. 

Class Size:

  • Identify your preferences for learning in smaller or larger class sizes. Nursing students generally have smaller class sizes for classes specific to nursing students along with larger class sizes for classes taken with students in other programs. 

NCLEX Pass Rates: 

  • Review the NCLEX pass rates provided by the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) to help you decide where you should study. 

Ranking: 

  • Review the university rankings provided by QS World University Rankings, Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Academic Ranking of World Universities, etc. to help you decide where you should study.

Lab Facilities: 

  • Visit the lab facilities that nursing students have access to for practicing their clinical skills and simulating patient interactions in real-life scenarios. View the equipment available to support your learning throughout the program. 

Networking Opportunities: 

  • Find out about the networking opportunities you have as a nursing student. Discover how you can make the most of the school’s alumni network and connections with employers. 

Clinical/Service Learning Placements: 

  • Explore the clinical/service learning placement experiences that the school provides. Ask former and current students about the settings they were assigned to and the various populations they worked with. Take into account when clinical/service learning placements start. 

 

A very special thank you to our interviewee...

CALLISTA LIU

Hello! My name is Callista Liu and I am currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) degree at McMaster University. I aspire to solve challenging problems at the intersection of disciplines in health care, business, and technology. Please do not hesitate to strike up a conversation with me on Facebook or LinkedIn! 

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For a Political Science & Philosophy Student at McMaster...

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

What McMaster does for first year students who are admitted into the Social Sciences program is give them the opportunity to explore all specializations offered by McMaster University for one full year. By the end of the year students are expected to choose one of these specializations to then major in. For those who are wondering what the specializations are, here's a quick list. Anthropology; Economics; Environment & Society; Health, Aging & Society; Indigenous Studies; Labour Studies; Political Science; Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour (PNB); Social Psychology; Social Work; Society, Culture & Religion; and Sociology. Given this, one of my biggest pieces of advice for any student wishing to apply to this program would be to keep an open mind and try new things. As for me, when I was first admitted into the Social Sciences program at McMaster, I intended to major in Anthropology, however, after taking my first ever course in Philosophy and Poli Sci during first year I discovered that I truly enjoyed the contents discussed and taught about in these two courses. I was able to find my new passion that I never knew existed all because I stepped out of my comfort zone and tried something new.

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

Within my high school career, I was fairly certain on what program I wanted to major in by the time I got to university. From grade 10 to 12 I prioritized the courses in the social sciences, as I knew it would be the most beneficial gateway into law school. I understand that for many students this clarity does not reveal itself so early, in fact, the reason I was able to make this decision early in high school was by analyzing my strengths and weaknesses as a student. I found courses within the STEAM fields to not only be challenging in nature but lacked excitement and relatability. It wasn’t until I began taking courses such as anthropology, sociology, psychology and law where I found my passion. The process of getting to law school is definitely more analytical than most tend to lead on, however, what is often missed is the hidden compassions for human experience. The study of social sciences has provided us the ability to understand human relations and historic events, while also allowing for one's own self-evaluation. Humans are political creatures, we thrive on community, economy and liberty and without these fundamental aspect’s human civilization would look much more different than it does today. This program is unique to me because it still places me in the right position to attend law school, while also encouraging me to ask the more difficult questions of human existence and authority.

What do you think is special about your university's campus life?

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The first words that come to mind when describing the campus life at Mac are friendly, warm and welcoming. These three words are exactly how I've came to view Mac's campus life. Just by being at McMaster you feel as though you are a part of a greater community, one where each student belongs and fits in. In addition to this, professors, faculty members and fellow students are very welcoming to new students. So much so, that I cannot even count how many times they've assisted me in finding my lecture hall. Also, at the beginning of each year the there are multiple resources advertised and setup to help new students segue into the life of post-secondary. Another feature provides by McMaster that I have quickly grown fond of over the years is the handful of great restaurants/eating spots situated on and around campus. That even I haven't gotten the chance to explore all of them. The last feature that makes Mac campus life so special is the end of the year carnival the university hosts from student. At the end of each school years the university sets the campus up as an amusement park for students to celebrate the end of another year and destress from exams.

QUESTIONS

JUICY

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How would you describe your first year experience?

My first-year experience was definitely a difficult one, the reason being I felt as though I missed out on so many opportunities simply because I decided to commute to school, rather than live on campus. For those who don't know, there are much more opportunities to build long-lasting friendships, meet new people and develop a larger social network if you reside on campus. I, however, did not realize this until I began commuting. There are definitely some advantages to being a commuter student, such as you getting to live in an environment that is comfortable and familiar to you, this for some students makes it easier to be productive. In contrast, one of the major disadvantages associated with commuting is the fact that you may miss out on opportunities to build meaningful and strong connections with other students. So, if you are a student who is particularly keen on building relationships and meeting people, commuting may not be the best option for you.

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What's your favourite class/elective and why?

My most memorable elective would have to be Anthropology 1AA3: Sex, Food & Death, a course I took during my first year. Overtime this elective became one of my favourites because it helped me get over the last bit of anxieties I had about transitioning into university. Not only did I find the professor charismatic and someone I could relatable to, I also genuinely enjoyed the contents being taught in the course. Each week I anxiously awaited to hear the topic of discussion that somehow intricately relates back to today's society. For instance, one of the assignments we had to complete, looked at the culture of food. We learnt that cookbooks do not just provide a delicious escape of flavored meals and desserts, it historically tells a story about the inhabitants living in that era. Our food consumption and food habits witnessed in modern society tells a specific story about our generation. Another reason why this class meant so much to me is because it taught me how to productively organize and balance my time to ensure the best level of success going forward in my university career. 

 
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A very special thank you to our interviewee...

KAYLA WILLIS-SIMMONDS

Hello everyone! My name is Kayla Willis-Simmonds, and I'm currently in my third year at McMaster University, where I am pursuing a combined Honours degree in Philosophy and Political Science. Along with my degree I am an executive member of the McMaster Law Aspiring Black Students (L.A.B.S).  L.A.B.S is an academic organization that is geared towards creating avenues for Black and minority students to segue into the field of law. I found this club extremely helpful in my journey towards law school, as it continues to educate me on the different produces one must adhere to before applying to law school. It also provides great networking opportunities and supplies students with helpful LSAT resources. Please don't hesitate to contact me on social media with any further questions you may have about my specific program or about some of the challenges faced by university students.

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A very special thank you to our interviewee...

CALLISTA LIU

Hello! My name is Callista Liu and I am currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) degree at McMaster University. I aspire to solve challenging problems at the intersection of disciplines in health care, business, and technology. Please do not hesitate to strike up a conversation with me on Facebook or LinkedIn! 

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For a Civil Engineering Student at McMaster...

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

The application process has changed a bit since I entered the program and now includes a supplementary application. My recommendation to students is to research the program, and to see what is highlighted in promotional materials. Find the things that appeal to you most and touch on those in your application. Applications are often daunting, so just be authentic in your responses and make sure you leave time to prepare for them.

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

I chose McMaster Engineering for its flexibility in the program. What's unique about the engineering program is that the first year is generalized for all engineering students and students decide after first year which stream of engineering they wish to pursue. This provides the opportunity to experience a variety of first year courses and to speak with upper year students about what they like or don't like about their streams. I personally found this very helpful because coming into McMaster I thought I would most like Mechanical Engineering, but after first year I realized that Civil Engineering was a better fit for me. While I did not choose to pursue these options, McMaster Engineering also allows students to expand on their engineering degrees by adding a management or society option. This allows them to pursue additional courses in business or other faculties on subjects that they enjoy or that they believe will benefit them in the future.

What was your favourite class/elective, and why?

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I think my favourite class in first year was our Graphics Design course, which I’ve now actually had the opportunity to be a TA for. The class featured a mix of CAD work and doing sketches by hand, which I found to be quite a fun mix. Beyond that, I’ve taken my electives in courses that have nothing to do with engineering but are instead things that I wanted to learn more about. These have included Greek and Roman Literature, and Constitutional and Public Law in Canada. I enjoyed this because these courses provided me with a nice break from my engineering courses and let me practice other skills that we don’t get a lot of in engineering such as writing essays.

QUESTIONS

JUICY

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

The workload in Engineering gets pretty heavy right at the beginning and stays that way for a majority of first year. The beginnings of the math and science courses are mostly high school review, but don’t get tricked into becoming complacent because it can sometimes suddenly veer into new content. While the workload is heavy, there are help centres available for most courses, and professors and TAs usually hold weekly office hours, which makes it easy to get help when you need it. I would often take advantage of the help centres in my first year, and they greatly improved my ability to grasp difficult concepts. In terms of work-life balance, I recommend developing a weekly routine for yourself that includes time for physical activity, fresh air, and whatever you do to relax. I went for runs or to the gym several times each week which helped me take a break from the pressures of classes. If you’re looking to get involved, I would recommend looking for something that has a flexible level of involvement until you have a grasp of what the demands of schoolwork look like on a weekly basis. This allows you to enjoy getting involved when you have time, while not letting those commitments add to stress during busy points in the school year.

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How would you describe your first year experience at McMaster?

I would describe my first-year experience as one of ups and downs, but something that I wouldn’t trade away because of how it helped me to grow as a person. I learned to be more independent, to better manage my time, and to work effectively in a team. I made sure to find the time for things that I enjoyed, which I think was important for dealing with the workload. What I appreciated was the feeling of camaraderie within the program, and the idea that we are all in it together. The program never really feels like a competition, instead everyone is working towards the same goals. If you do choose this program, be prepared to work hard, but also to enjoy the ride because at the end of the day, the program is what you make of it and you can make it a pretty great four to seven years.

 
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A very special thank you to our interviewee...

LIAM SYKES

Hi, I'm Liam Sykes and I'm in my fifth year of Civil Engineering (Co-op) at McMaster University. In addition to my studies, I have spent my time at McMaster getting involved with student government to advocate for my fellow engineering students, and volunteering my time to Welcome Week festivities and getting new students integrated into the McMaster community. In my spare time I enjoy running, playing ultimate frisbee, and watching netflix. If you have any questions, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and ask them.

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A very special thank you to our interviewee...

CALLISTA LIU

Hello! My name is Callista Liu and I am currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) degree at McMaster University. I aspire to solve challenging problems at the intersection of disciplines in health care, business, and technology. Please do not hesitate to strike up a conversation with me on Facebook or LinkedIn! 

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