Welcome from the Dean
As Dean of Students I would like to welcome you to the McMaster community. It is rewarding for me personally and for our staff to see the excitement of the new students as they begin the next stage in life -- their university career and to share in their development during their time at McMaster.
I hope that parents of incoming students had the opportunity to attend the information sessions provided through the Summer Orientation Days hosted by our First Year Experience Office, and that we will see you on Welcome Day, Friday August 7th. These are great opportunities for students to find out about the many support services within Student Affairs they have access to at the University. Visit http://studentaffairs.mcmaster.ca/ to view all of our services.
We are parents too and face the same concerns you have. Like you we are here to provide guidance and support. From time to time you may have questions, concerns or just need some information. Our parent website at http://studentaffairs.mcmaster.ca/parents/ is full of information specifically for parents. We also send out a quarterly newsletter to parents that can be found at http://studentaffairs.mcmaster.ca/parents/news.html. Please consider signing up for the newsletter if you haven’t already done so. Finally, you can contact us by email at email@example.com or call my office at (905) 525-9140, Ext.27455.
Dean of Students
A Day in the Life
If you could not make it to Summer Orientation Days you may have missed the "A Day in the Life" video created by the First Year Experience Office that touches on many issues around transition to university life at McMaster. To access this video as well as others visit http://fye.mcmaster.ca/videos.html. Note that the videos may not load when accessed using later versions of Internet Explorer on newer operating systems so the Firefox browser is recommended.
Each Faculty provides students with access to academic counselling from professional Academic Advisors who can provide assistance in many areas including:
- course and program selection
- registration procedures
- preparation for a wide variety of post-degree initiatives, including graduate studies, professional studies and vocation
- comprehensive academic direction that spans a student’s undergraduate educational career to help prepare for lifetime success
- sensitive and encouraging alternatives for those who have not met their academic goals
- admission information including assessment of advance credit for applicants from a wide range of educational sources
- advice, referrals and options provided in one-on-one, small group and large group sessions
- petitions for Special Consideration for students in distress
- petitions for missed term work and deferred examinations
- study elsewhere options including McMaster Exchanges and Letters of Permission
- appeal procedures
- referrals to a multitude of support services on campus
Parents are encouraged to speak with their son/daughter about the importance of seeking advice early on from their Academic Advisor on any of the above issues.
Budgeting for the Academic Year
As each new school year begins, it is important for students to evaluate their financial situation and prepare a financial plan that will cover their costs during the academic year.
Budgeting is about understanding the difference between income and expenses. To budget effectively, a person must realize the difference between the amount of resources available to them (earned or saved) and the total cost of their essential expenses. Suggest that your student visit McMaster University’s Office of Student Financial Aid & Scholarship’s website to try their online interactive budget builder and play the online budgeting game… Budget BONANZA. Both contain tips and advice to help students build a budget and make wise choices to get them through their academic year.
An effective budget will balance expenses with resources. If a student’s expenses exceed resources, the student must immediately formulate a reasonable plan to either decrease expenses or increase income.
Share these ideas with your son/daughter to assist him/her in balancing their budget.
Tips for Decreasing Expenses
- Clip store & manufacturer coupons to save on the cost of grocery and personal items. Read advertising flyers to search for the best deals on items.
- Stick with BASIC services. Avoid expensive elaborate options for cable, TV, & telephone service.
- Reduce minimum monthly required payments by using credit cards only in emergency situations.
- Use your student bus pass. A great alternative to spending money on gas & parking.
- Carpool with friends if commuting.
- Eat nutritious meals at home instead of splurging on meals at a restaurant. (e.g. You can buy a whole bag of bagels that will last you one week for the same cost as purchasing one bagel at your local donut shop. Those daily coffees can add up too! Make coffee at home to take with you on the go.)
- Purchase used textbooks.
- Pay student account and other bills on time to avoid unnecessary interest charges.
- Look for 'student discounts' offered by many merchants.
- Return library books on time to avoid unnecessary late fees.
Tips for Increasing Income
- Work part-time. Apply for a workstudy job on campus.
- Search for external scholarships & bursaries… http://sfas.mcmaster.ca/search/scholsearch.htm
- Ask family, friends or neighbours if you could help them with additional chores for a fee.
- Apply for a McMaster bursary.
- Apply for OSAP and/or visit a counselor if OSAP eligibility is not at maximum level to discuss available appeals.
- Apply for a student line of credit at your financial institution. (Although this increases your current resources, a line of credit represents additional debt overall and not additional income so use it wisely!)
Part Time Jobs on Campus
The Ontario Work-Study Program (OWSP) assists students by funding part time on-campus employment opportunities available to current registered students who demonstrate financial need. The cost of this program is shared by the Provincial Government and McMaster University.
Students must complete an application form and be approved for the work program before accepting an offer of employment.
There are many benefits to working on-campus which include: providing a way to supplement the student's income while they are studying, allowing for flexible scheduling making academics their first priority, no additional work related costs in time or money, the opportunity to build a relationship with McMaster University and the ability to develop work-related skills and habits which will look great on their resume.
Employment opportunities can be viewed after August 1st, 2009 on OSCAR (McMaster’s On-line Student Career And Recruitment site). (https://oscar.mcmaster.ca/mcauth/) Below is a sample of some of the job opportunities included (but not limited to):
- Research Assistant
- Daycare Assistant
- Library Support
- Website Assistant
- Administrative Assistant
- Media Library Clerk
- Personal Trainer/Fitness Leader
For more detailed information regarding the application procedure for students to qualify for this program click on the link to the Financial Aid and Scholarship website. (http://sfas.mcmaster.ca/work_study/jobs.html)
Parents often ask why they can’t get any information about their son or daughter such as marks, financial status, counselling and health services visits, disciplinary information, etc.
McMaster University is governed by the Ontario Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and, therefore, cannot share the personal information of students without the explicit permission of the student.
It has been our experience that allowing students to ask questions, seek out resources and solve their own problems helps them in becoming mature, independent and responsible young adults.
Health and Dental Insurance Plans
All McMaster undergraduate students are automatically enrolled in the McMaster Students’ Union (MSU) Health and Dental Plans. If you already have health and dental coverage for your student, please encourage your son or daughter to take note that the opt out period is from September 1st to 30th. Click on this link for more information https://www.msumcmaster.ca/services/health/overview.htm
How to Have a Successful Year Off-Campus
Back to school is upon us again! But this time, instead of backpacks and binders being the number one concern, you have much more to think about with your child entering university; even more so if your son or daughter is going to be living off-campus. At the Off-Campus Resource Centre (OCRC) we have all the resources you need to prepare your child for a successful off-campus living experience in Hamilton. The OCRC office is located in the student centre basement in room B112. Along with our online student rental listings (www.macoffcampus.ca), our staff also offers help with any lease or general housing issues that may arise throughout the year.
The online student listing provides an extensive up-to-date listing of available student housing in Hamilton. Students can search housing based on price, location, or even number of bedrooms in a house or apartment. Another feature of the OCRC website is the Housemate Connector. The Housemate Connector is available for students hoping to connect with potential housemates. Students can communicate with each other, finding individuals with similar interests and lifestyles and then search together for housing. The OCE website, www.macoce.ca, contains tips for an entire year of living off-campus in Hamilton.
After your son or daughter has found a home away from home, they will need to prepare to be living on their own. Whether he or she is living with other students or alone there are some important tips to make it an easier transition:
- Get to know the neighbours. You are now a part of the Hamilton community and should respect your home and the homes of fellow community members – and it’s always great to know people who live nearby to feel safer and more at home.
- Be sure your child knows the city bylaws and procedures for recycling/composting/waste. All of this can be found at www.myhamilton.ca
- Communicate with housemates. Living as a group of responsible adults means students will need to be open to compromising and listening to the views of others in order to solve problems and keep the peace.
- Eat healthy! Students have access to many grocery stores, farmers markets, and restaurants in Hamilton, but it is still easy for students to disregard those healthy eating habits you have been teaching them all these years. Off-campus students can purchase the McMaster meal plan which can include ‘flex dollars’ for certain off-campus restaurants.
Living off-campus has many advantages for students. Having to venture outside of the ‘McMaster bubble’ allows students to explore the city and take advantage of all Hamilton has to offer!
- As part of the undergraduate tuition, students have free city bussing from September – April. Students can simply show their student card and get free HSR transit all over the city.
- Join SOCS – Society of Off-Campus Students – SOCS runs year-round events for all students living off-campus. They are also students living off-campus and are a good resource for your son or daughter if they have any questions regarding student life. Visit www.socs.ca.
- Attend the SOCS BBQ during Welcome Week. This is a great way for students to meet others who are living off-campus (and get a free lunch!). Expect further information in the mail over the next couple weeks.
- Explore the city! Hamilton has tons of great places to visit, hang out, and shop. Encourage students to hike the Bruce Trail, visit some of the many waterfalls, shop at the Farmer’s Market in Jackson Square Mall, attend the James St. Art Crawl, or take a stroll through quaint Dundas. To find out about local festivals and events taking place around the city visit the Compass Information Centre in the Student Centre or http://macpopthebubble.wordpress.com/.
The Centre for Student Development
The Centre for Student Development (CSD) can be a resource for all students attending McMaster University both in their academic and personal lives. CSD offers a variety of services and workshops to help students reach their educational goals and make the most of their time at McMaster. Each year, CSD encounters hundreds of students who experience difficulties that interfere with their academic performance, personal and/or emotional well being. We believe that university students are capable, talented, intelligent, resilient people and provide the appropriate services to them to overcome these obstacles. The services we offer are as follows:
Personal Counselling and Mental Health Services
At some point just about everyone finds they have major concerns on their mind that interfere with their success, happiness, and satisfaction at university. One of the most helpful ways of dealing with problematic situations and feelings is to start by talking them through with an experienced counsellor.
Supporting educational goals and the mental health wellness of our students is the primary focus of the Mental Health Wellness Team at McMaster. According to Statistics Canada, teenagers and young adults aged 15-24 experience the highest incidence of mental illness of any age group in Canada. Thus, comprehensive, strengths-based, client-centered and supportive programs are the focus of McMaster’s Mental Health Wellness Team.
Academic Skills and ESL Support
We strive to give students the very best academic success strategies and suggestions that are available 24/7 from our website (http://csd.mcmaster.ca/).
To meet with an Academic Skills Counsellor, a student can book an appointment through the Centre for Student Development.
- Writing and Learning Skills Peers
Our specially trained peer helpers are available to assist in improving academic writing skills, study skills, note taking strategies, test preparation, and time management skills.
Videos, pamphlets, downloads, external links, are all available from our online resources page.
- ESL Support
The Centre for Student Development offers several services to help non-native speakers improve their spoken and written English. We provide evening ESL classes, the Speakeasy Program (one-on-one support from a volunteer), or the Conversation Circle (group-based support). Explore our website (http://csd.mcmaster.ca/) to determine which support is best for your son or daughter!
The Centre for Student Development will make a positive difference in the lives, personal growth and academic success of students, regardless of their background, stage of life, or abilities. This includes a commitment to the continual improvement of accessibility for students with disabilities.
Assistive Technology Learning and Academic Support is a program designed specifically for students with diagnosed learning disabilities. As participants in the ATLAS program, students have access to the latest assistive technology devices as well as the specialized services of a Learning Strategist and Assistive Technologist.
Programs like the Peer Helper Program and the Dr. Mary E. Keyes Leadership Program provide students with out-of-the-classroom learning opportunities and facilitate growth as whole people.
- Peer Helper Program
The PHP involves full or part time undergraduate and graduate student volunteers who play an integral role in delivering programs and services at the Centre for Student Development (CSD) and Career Services at McMaster. Peers are trained and supervised by professional staff and assist the McMaster student population with academic, disability, personal and career needs. The Peer Helper Program represents one of the premier student personal and professional development opportunities at the University.
- The Dr. Mary E. Keyes Leadership Program
The Dr. Mary E. Keyes Leadership Program has been designed to encourage all students to participate in the program regardless of whether they are currently in a leadership role or never even considered taking on a leadership role. Students can expect to engage in opportunities to develop new and/or existing skills and gain awareness of such topics as: collaborative leadership, discovering one’s personal style of leadership, learning to be a team player, communication, decision making, conflict resolution, and being assertive.
The McMaster Student Activity Record (MacStAR) is an online database system that will record a student’s involvement in various extra-curricular and co-curricular activities (which meet a specific set of criteria) and produce a McMaster recognized experiential record of those activities. The purpose of MacStAR is:
- To officially recognize the developmental and leadership experiences of McMaster students.
- To increase student awareness of specific developmental and leadership activities outside of the classroom which promote skill building.
- To provide students with a tool to help them identify, evaluate and reflect on the personal and professional skills they have developed.
- To foster the importance of lifelong active citizenship.
For more information on any of these services please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://csd.mcmaster.ca/
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Disability Services and the Centre for Student Development: a letter to parents
There is one aspect of life that states we must protect and help develop our investments. The business person protects their finances from negative fluctuations, the artist protects their art from piracy and illegal duplication, while parents are given the job of protecting our most precious natural resource; our children.
When students take the leap to university, parents may be worried or feel anxious about their children’s well-being and the need to protect will surface. Parents of a student with a disability will also feel this common anxiety, but may have an extra-added feeling of uncertainty towards the institution their child will be attending. Fortunately, McMaster University’s Centre for Student Development (CSD) has an entire department of dedicated professionals to effectively accommodate students in this position. The CSD staff understands that each student holds a specific learning style and as a result, may need specific accommodations to match their learning style. Our disability specialists are able to sit down with the student and develop an accommodations plan to ensure the young adult's needs are met. Learning strategists, academic skills counsellors and volunteers through our Peer Helper Program are also able to help students with any academic skills or academic work they may have difficulty with.
To ensure that accommodations can be made before classes begin, we ask parents to take a proactive approach to help their child take responsibility for their education. We encourage parents to motivate their children to start the accommodation process in July or August before the academic school year begins. A student who will have to manage academic requirements while securing the accommodation process will find it a very trying experience. Documentation must be acquired before accommodations can be made, which is why we ask you to start early. Beginning the accommodation process early will also allow parents to sit down with their children to develop a game-plan for the year.
University marks the beginning of your son or daughters journey into adulthood. We want your child to gain the most out of this experience as they possibly can. As a work study student at the CSD for the past 2 years, I have worked with several students who have been proactive in their accommodations approach. They have received the accommodations they have required, and as a result, it has benefited their academic career. Please take my personal experience into account when speaking to your child about their accommodations and encourage them to take a proactive approach.
Call the CSD today and ask how you can take a proactive approach to your son or daughters accommodations.
905-525-9140 ext 24711
Peer Helper Program Student Coordinator/HYPE @ McMaster Marketing and Promotional Coordinator/ATLAS Program Marketing and Promotional Coordinator
Student Rights and Responsibilities
At McMaster University we recognize that the first year of university can be a time of transition for all students, full of new experiences, opportunities and freedom. On campus we try to uphold and promote a certain community standard where members respect each other and their community. We also try to give students the opportunity to challenge themselves and enhance their own growth and learning opportunities outside of the classroom.
In Residence, student leaders help students maneuver through these new experiences in their first year, while ensuring that students are aware of their rights and responsibilities as a member of the McMaster community. Students who live off campus are encouraged to get involved with the Society for Off-campus Students (SOCS). All new students are provided with information about the community standards, specifically the Student Code of Conduct and the Residence Code of Conduct. Our primary objective in Judicial Affairs is to help create a safe and secure environment, help students make good choices for themselves by learning from decisions that sometimes result in negative consequences.
Along with the new freedom students experience while living away from home, they learn to become accountable for their own actions within a community. If a student breaches one of the Codes they get the opportunity to meet a staff member to discuss the incident and to determine an appropriate way to repair the situation or learn how to approach a similar situation in the future. Your son or daughter may turn to you for advice in one of these situations. We feel it is important that you know what resources to refer your son or daughter to at McMaster so that they are able to deal with the situation to the best of their ability.
When the expectations outlined in the Code are breached, the circumstances and nature of the incident determine how resolution will be sought. We also have a group of student volunteers who are trained to review cases and recommend outcomes and students also can contact the Peer Conduct Advisors (PCA), a small number of experienced Peer Conduct Board (PCB) members that can provide help in preparing for a review or meeting with a staff member.
We focus on outcomes that are primarily educational in nature and often include writing an essay, completing an information session with a campus service, or sometimes paying restitution. McMaster aims to encourage students to respect each individual’s role within their own community, and hopes to help them take the most from every experience on campus in order to apply it in future. Sometimes even small events can turn into longer life lessons.
For more information about the Codes, Community Standards or the Judicial Process check out our website at: http://judicialaffairs.mcmaster.ca.
Students can also find applications to join the Peer Conduct Board on our website.
The Value of a University Degree
Understanding the value of a university education is critical to determining how the degree is transferable to the workplace. During their undergraduate studies, university students are developing critical skills that are necessary to engage in innovative thinking and support a culture of lifelong learning. Career Services have provided students with an on-line resource entitled ‘The Value of Your Degree’ which provides information and resources to expand their knowledge about career options related to their specific degree and offers suggestions to help them in their career exploration. The careers provided are a sample of the vast array of career options available to students.
Additionally, a student’s university experience, both inside and outside the classroom, provides an ideal time for them to develop key skills that are in high demand. Employers are seeking candidates that can perform tasks associated with a particular industry. Employers require individuals who are able to adapt to changing workplace demands, are flexible with their schedules and express an interest in continuous learning. The ‘Value of Your Degree’ resource identifies skill areas that employers have highlighted as critical to succeeding in the world of work.
The resource also includes information and research related to clubs and associations as well as mentorship opportunities that are available within various career choices.
Learn more about ‘The Value of Your Degree’.
The information is presented separately for each Faculty. Included is the Value of Degree for Arts and Science, Business, Engineering, Health Sciences, Humanities, Science, and Social Sciences.
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