Welcome to Reality

By Abhimukth Chaudhuri

Congratulations and welcome to the Faculty of Engineering at McGill university! Securing a spot in an institution as an engineering student is a rigorous task and requires a lot of hard work and dedication. Getting accepted at a world-renowned university with demanding requirements and a need for consistency is another challenge in itself. You should therefore be proud of yourself for the effort and time you have invested in the last few years and be ready to embark on this new journey in your life!

Studying at McGill is quite a rewarding experience due to its academics as well as the various activities and clubs established by students in the university. Everything from clubs such as McGill Robotics and the McGill Rocket team, to undergraduate research societies, to improv, McGill Athletics, McGill Nordic Ski team, and the visual arts society. There are numerous clubs and events you can be involved in to find new interests, continue pursuing former interests, develop new skills, and make great connections with other students and faculty members across campus.

Getting involved within the campus is not just beneficial to you during your time at university, but also proves to be helpful after graduation. For instance, participating in extracurriculars will help you meet like-minded peers, make new friends and grow your network. After graduating, having friends who have already found a job in your field can help you in your own job search or even recommend you to their own connections for a job. Moreover, it will help your resume stand out to employers as it would show that you have experience earned outside of your classroom in addition to your degree. Coupled with the rigorous academic course load at McGill, joining clubs is also a fantastic way of relieving stress and balancing your time in a healthy and productive way.

Even though there are many opportunities and lots of potential for success, as well as a large set of resources available to you at the university, a lot of it comes down to how you choose to use these tools for your own success. This is how McGill helps students learn to be independent right from the very beginning and teaches us how to find our path and prosper within the system.

Although it is an exhilarating experience for most students, it is also a terrifying time for many of us with big dreams and even larger expectations.

While many effortlessly find their place in the community and relish in their new-found independence, others struggle with this new set of responsibilities. More often than not, students struggle silently and it’s mainly because they’re afraid or ashamed to open up about their difficulties to their parents, friends, or teachers. At some point in your journey, you or one of your friends might feel the same sort of pressure. However, it is important to understand that transitioning to a new life after high school and being away from home, even though it is incredibly exciting, can also be a terrifying experience.

The biggest difference between high school and university, as you must have guessed, is that you have to become self-directed. After graduating from high school, knowing how to prioritize your time and tasks with the added responsibility of your freedom quickly becomes challenging. At McGill, just like any other university, you are no longer going to have your teachers or parents reminding you to finish your assignments or prepare for your assessments. Additionally, unlike high school, deadlines for assignments are less flexible and the option for a re-test or make-up tests is quite rare.

Thus, time management is a necessary and important factor that makes transitioning from high school to university easier. I’m sure you must have heard that piece of advice numerous times from your parents or school counselors, but knowing how to prioritize your tasks with your busy schedule will ensure that you are getting things done on time without leaving anything until the last minute.

It’ll allow you to balance your lifestyle.

A common challenge that many students face is knowing how to deal with receiving a low mark on a midterm or quiz in a course. Often times, students either get discouraged, lose their drive to do better in the course, or start questioning whether they have chosen the right major to pursue at university. What a lot of students neglect is the fact that at university, there are a lot of factors that affect one’s ability to do well on a test or assignment early on during the school year. An important skill to acquire while studying at McGill is learning how to adjust your expectations for your marks.

A lot of students expect to perform equally as well at university as they did in high school. Part of being a McGill student is realizing that this is not always the case.

One low mark is simply not the end of the world. It is just a sign that there are some areas of the material that you need more improvement and understanding. University is not going to be easy, and some courses will require you to put in more effort than you think, even if you know most of the content. Learning how to manage stress, knowing how to adjust your study habits and time you spend for a topic, and asking for help from your peers are the best ways to improve and progressively do well at McGill.

Once you get familiar with your courses and the university, you will realize that McGill has an abundance of resources available to make transitions easier. Some academic resources include help centers, course teaching assistants, professor office hours, tutors, and study materials at the libraries. So, with everything at your disposal, it really comes down to using these resources to gain clarity in areas that need improvement, and adapting to new study methods to perform better in your courses.

McGill Engineering is a challenge, there is no disputing that. The key to success at McGill is finding that perfect balance and routine that works best for YOU. Everyone around you will have different academic and socio-cultural backgrounds, which means different solutions will work better for some than for others. You have countless resources at your disposal. Enjoy your freedom and remember to balance your time! Try new things and never be afraid to ask for help.