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Top iBioMed Success Tips by iBioMed Student Sarah BissolaDecember 6, 2019

Sarah Bissola, Electrical and Biomedical Engineering, Level 3 student shares her top 6 success tips as an iBioMed Student.

1. Things will work out!

Your first year of university can be one of the craziest, most stressful, and hardest times of your life. But it can also be one of the most exciting, liberating and fun! Just remind yourself that you are not alone and things will be okay. You will grow so much as a person throughout these next few years. Not only will you get involved with the things you’re really passionate about, but you will also be exposed to so many new cultures, experiences and people. You will learn so much (outside the classroom as well as in) and really grow into the person that you are meant to be. The people you meet and the memories you make will last a lifetime, so don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and try new things. These 5 years will fly by and before you know it, you’ll be off on the next chapter of your life! Enjoy it while it lasts, and make every day meaningful.

2. If you need help, reach out to the student services on campus.

The transition to university from high school can be a challenge. Starting university is a big deal, and getting used to it can take some time. This is totally normal! If you’re going through a tough time, and feel like you need someone to talk to, there are tons of resources on campus that can help. Consider making an appointment with a counsellor at the Student Wellness Center. There is no shame in needing some help, and you will thank yourself for it in the future. Always remember to take care of yourself, both mentally and physically!

3. Join extracurriculars that you are interested in.

This goes hand in hand with taking time off and having fun. If you have danced your whole life, join a dance club! If you are really passionate about raising money for a certain cause, join a society for it! If you want to get more involved with the engineering community, there are countless teams and societies to join! Not only will you have fun while doing it, but it’s a great way to meet new people and make friends, while giving back to your community. At McMaster, there is a club or society for all things imaginable (movies, rowing, chess, sports, intramurals, travelling, and much, much more). 

4. Don’t freak out about a bad grade.

This is a really important thing to wrap your mind around. University can be challenging, and if you get a bad grade, just remember that it isn’t the end of the world. If you get a bad mark on a midterm or an assignment, reach out to your professor and try to understand how you can improve. Even if you get a bad mark, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to do poorly in the course.
Identifying what went wrong, and getting some extra help from your Prof, TA or a study group, can quickly get you back on track. Remember to keep a positive attitude and get help early on!

5. Take advantage of your professors and TAs and ask for help.

Professors have office hours specifically for students who have questions about the course content. Your professors want to see you succeed! You are not alone, and there is academic support if you need it. If there is a concept that you are really struggling with, don’t be afraid to go to office hours and have the professor go over it with you one-on-one. It feels a lot harder to reach out to professors compared to your high school teachers, but your professor will seem much less scary when you aren’t in a huge lecture hall with 200 other students! You can also set up meetings with your Teaching Assistants if you need some more individual assistance. 

6. Don’t be afraid to take breaks and have fun

School can be stressful! Especially from high school where you had 4 courses at a time to having 6 - math, physics, chemistry, biology, etc., there will be an adjustment period during the first few months at university, and things can feel really overwhelming at times; however, it’s important to take breaks and not spend every waking moment doing homework and studying. Make sure you have a balance between homework and having a social life. You will be so much happier and less stressed if you make time for fun and things you enjoy. Taking time off to just hang out with your friends or relax is important and will help create balance during your time in iBioMed.