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THINGS you wished you knew!

Old 06-19-2010 at 09:42 PM   #16
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I don't think first year is the hardest material wise. A lot of what you learn is review from highschool, but the transition from highschool to a University style of learning and testing is HUGE. Nothing really prepares you for it so it makes it seem a lot more difficult. My only advice is be proactive, because noone really tells you to start doing work and then you find yourself shocked that midterms are starting already (pretty much beginning of October).
However, it's also super important to make friends and have a balanced life style (aka somewhat of a social life), because school gets stressful and it's awesome to have good people around you during those times.
Old 06-19-2010 at 09:46 PM   #17
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wow loads of good stuff here!!!
Life Science I
Old 06-19-2010 at 10:00 PM   #18
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There are also a ton of articles under the "Advice and Tips" tab. One of them is here: ps It's about tips for academic success . And another here on time management:
Hope that helps!
Mary Keyes CA 2013-2014
Hons. Biology and Pharmacology V

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Old 06-19-2010 at 10:09 PM   #19
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1. Get into study mode as soon as frosh week is over, those midterms will creep up on you.

2. You'll get a free wall calendar from the MSU. Write all the due dates of your assignments and quizzes and the dates of all your midterms (you'll most likely get all of this information during your first class).

3. Use time in between classes wisely. In one hour you can eat, study or power nap.

4. If you have a large block of classes, pack snacks! That will help you keep from falling asleep/spacing out.

Electrical and Biomedical Engineering
Class of 2012

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Old 06-19-2010 at 10:30 PM   #20
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I wish i realized it isn't as important as you think it all is

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Old 06-19-2010 at 10:42 PM   #21
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" Multivitamins are your best friends."

A normal diet will give you 10x the vitamins you require. They're unnecessary if your diet is normal and healthy. But because you're in university I doubt it's going to be a healthy diet (my own lunch consisted of about 1200 calories ... somehow I don't think that's the optimal amount for a quick lunch).
Old 06-19-2010 at 10:55 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Alchemist11 View Post
" Multivitamins are your best friends."

A normal diet will give you 10x the vitamins you require. They're unnecessary if your diet is normal and healthy. But because you're in university I doubt it's going to be a healthy diet (my own lunch consisted of about 1200 calories ... somehow I don't think that's the optimal amount for a quick lunch).
You are familiar with my diet and my disdain for vegetables and most meat and my inability to process other things

Emma Ali
Honours Life Sciences

Old 06-19-2010 at 11:00 PM   #23
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Explore food options early on... Since I never could go home on the weekends, I was eating mac food 24/7...and I wish i had found out some of the better/different food places earlier on (IAHS cafe, Bridges, WILLIAMS etc)

Welcome week, and the first couple of weeks of university DEFINITELY shape the entire year. This is the easiest time to make friends, meet people and build connections. Try to be as open minded as possible, I personally found that the relationships made in september impacted my entire year.

...and I totally agree with the study tips!

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Old 06-19-2010 at 11:13 PM   #24
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Go to the gym! It's good for your mental health, and it also will help with the campus food!
Don't procrastinate - make sure you have projects, essays, etc done a few days in advance, and give yourself lots of time to study for test and exams
The term will go faster than you think - make sure you pay attention to due dates and test dates - the 4 month wall calendar the MSU gives out is great for this
Give yourself some time to have fun and relax, it will make everything less stressful
Don't be afraid to talk to people, join clubs, do activities, whatever - that's how you'll meet people and make friends
Maegan Ayre
History and Cultural Studies&Critical Theory IV
Old 06-20-2010 at 12:17 AM   #25
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Well I guess I can give some advice.

There are a lot of things that help that I know I don't do and know I wouldn't do if someone else told me to (Go to office hours, read lectures before class, etc) so I'll just give you the advice I do follow (and have had bad things happen when I haven't followed).
  • Keep a calender (You get a calender during frosh week, Google calender can send you email alerts, almost everyone has outlook on their computer which has an awesome calender; pick one and use it
  • Forward your email to something you check regularly (hotmail/gmail) it sucks when you miss an important email because your inbox is full or you don't check it often enough
  • Do whatever you can to avoid all-nighters before exams and stressing the hour or so before you write (my marks between first and second year are almost day and night and the biggest difference is not pulling all nighters in one year)
    If you're in science, every major concept in each one of your courses can be summed up in less than 3 pages (front and back) of study notes, do this before and exam and study those notes, it does wonders
  • The first month or so of school will have no real work outside of class, you will get into bad habits, try to avoid as many of them as possible (DC++ is evil)
  • Meet as many people as you can during frosh week, it's incredibly helpful to know people in your program and it's kinda hard to meet people a lot in class/tutorial
  • Beware of the skip cycle, you may get bored and skip a few classes, the next thing you'll know you'll have to spend entire days studying for midterms because you're just learning the material, forcing you to skip more classes, forcing you to spend more time studying for other midterms and skipping classes to do that, etc; before you know it an entire semester has gone by and you've literally missed 2/3 of the lectures
  • Take notes in class (most profs are good at posting up notes, but additional notes make you pay attention in class even if what they're saying is boring, if you don't there's a chance you might tune the teacher out and do something else which is a waste of the hour you're spending in the lecture anyway
  • Know your TAs: In first year your chem, bio, and psych TAs will be undergrads, get to know them and they'll help you out (from basically giving you the answers to tutorial problems, to helping you get into research positions)

Those are the things I can say are doable without being super keen and they will make a difference in your marks
Masters Biochemistry
Honours Biology and Psychology

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Old 06-20-2010 at 08:04 AM   #26
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Find where your classes are located before hand!
Honours Chemistry Co-op (09-14)

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Old 06-20-2010 at 08:56 AM   #27
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Things I 'wish' I knew, aside from the ones already mentioned:

1) Not to believe upper years on EVERYTHING they tell you. Realize that these are simply opinions, and you might find things to be different

2) Personally, I found all the time management and going to class advices useless. You are simply going to walk into a few classes over your uni studies where you don't understand a single word the prof is saying. At this point, you're better off studying on your own. Of course, be careful with this advice. You need the proper discipline to do well in these type of courses.

3) Coffee is overrated. It will keep you up longer than you need to. Try tea

4) If you're weak at a certain subject. Don't wait for the year to start to start studying. Start NOW. Buy your book early, get acquainted with it. Study a few chapters. You don't need to understand everything. The point is to get your feet wet, so your more comfortable when classes start.

5) The internet is all powerful. Sites like offer free odd solution manuals to many popular books. For about $4 a month you ask a few questions a day, and you get fairly qualified people answering them rather quickly; not to mention solutions to every quesiton. Before buying solution manuals, check if cramster has your book's solutions or not. provides free online video lectures, along with sample quizes, test, and exams from big name schools. If you think your prof isn't sufficient, or you just need another source, see if your course is on this site.

6) Don't readily believe the prof when he/she says you need the latest version of the book to get through the course. A book thats an edition or two older are usually more than sufficient, and you can pick them up for very low prices compared to the latest editions.

7) Your laptop is the biggest distraction. Don't bring it to classes, and try to study without it.
Former McMaster Student
Would be Electrical Engineering II

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Old 06-20-2010 at 10:06 AM   #28
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I heard for business, second year is the hardest, so I think it depends ont he program you are in! best of luck
Old 06-20-2010 at 10:23 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by JeetDevDesai View Post
lol not gonna work for me i guess....since i am in life sci =)
I was life sci first year, and can be very tough if you don't keep up with the material. Just make sure you keep ontop of things and don't hesistate to ask quesions about things you may not understand in class (I would know, I never liked to ask questions). But for Physics, Bio and Chem make sure you go to Thode Library basement if you need help with any concepts. T.A's are usually there to help you out if you have questions.

I wish someone had told me that before 2nd semester of 1st year Lol, so there you go.

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Old 06-20-2010 at 10:33 AM   #30
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Things I wish I knew when going into first years:
  • What I wanted to do with my life. I started out in a program that I really only entered as a way to keep my options open, instead of picking a goal and working toward it. Thankfully I was able to switch into a different program, but things could have worked out differently.
  • Don't buy your first year books from titles! There will be tonnes of people selling used copies for much cheaper.
  • For Chem 1A03/1AA3- Print the weekly quizzes right away and answer them in lecture. The profs will outright say the answers to a lot of the questions, or show you how to go through similar style questions.
  • For Psych 1X03/1XX3- If you miss the online lecture, it isn't a big deal. Most of the time it will be reposted before a midterm/exam, and I've heard for recent years they don't even take them down anymore. Also you can just save the URL of the lecture and watch it later through that.
  • Use Google Calendar, with the Calendar extension for Chrome. If you don't have good time management skills, knowing when things are due in real time is incredibly useful. Its also great to alert you to when your weekly online assignments are due- when you miss about 3-4 and go down a grade point because of it, you'll wish you did this.
  • A laptop is not very useful for taking notes. Way more trouble then its worth.
  • Libraries suck for studying! There are too many people socializing, and too many people in general. If you get a spot, there's no guarantee that it will be in a quiet area. Empty classrooms are a much better spot.
  • Don't eat on campus! It's hard to find healthy options, and is pretty expensive. Go to the Subway across the street, and eat off campus whenever possible. There is a Fortino's (grocery store) less than a 10 minute walk from campus.

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