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Tips for First-Years


  1. The Writing Centre is open to Graduate and Undergraduate students. Appointments with their certified writing advisors are booked on OSCARplus.
  2. For tip sheets on writing, presentations, note-taking and other categories, check out the Academic Skills LibGuide.
  3. Need help with a paper? Connect with Online Learning Support here.
  1. Check the date
    • Try to use papers published in the last 5 years to ensure you are looking at the most relevant information
  2. Search for Key Words
    • Before taking the time to read a paper, make sure you check if it contains the key words you’re looking for. (Use Command+F or CTRL+F to search).
  3. Identify new terminology
  4. Quickly scan the paper for words or concepts that are unfamiliar
    • Chances are similar papers you are looking at will use this terminology as well so it is helpful to gain an understanding right away
  5. Read the abstract, introduction and conclusion
    • These sections will give you a strong understanding of the topic, questions the authors were trying to answer and the main findings.
  6. Read remaining parts
    • By following the previous steps, you will know if the paper is relevant to your search, and you can now explore other sections of the paper to learn more.


At some point just about everyone finds they have major concerns on their mind that may interfere with their success, happiness, and satisfaction at university. Often, students mention that a helpful way of dealing with problematic situations and feelings is to start by talking them through with an experienced counsellor.

You can speak to a counsellor through the Student Wellness Centre by booking a 15-minute consultation appointment.

Call 905-525-9140 x 27700. Follow up appointment times may vary. Learn more about counselling.

The Student Wellness Centre has a wide variety of programs designed to cater to the wellness needs of the student population. Please note that while some programs are drop-in, others do require registration.

Living in Hamilton

  1. Archway Off-Campus Housing Hub to connect with other first-year students who are seeking housemates.
  2. On the McMaster Housing website, you can look for a house, sign a lease or get tips for living off-campus
  • Free shuttle busses will take students who drive from the parking lot to and from campus (approximately every 10 minutes).
  • Hamilton Bike Program
  • HSR bus system
  • Hamilton-Brantford Rail Trail
    • Runs parallel to Main St. W. where McMaster is located
  • Learn more about directions to campus.

The Student Walk Home Attendant Team (SWHAT) is a volunteer service within the McMaster Students Union that will walk or bus with users during the evening hours, 7 days a week. Learn more about SWHAT.


The McMaster Work Program (you may hear it called “work/study”) gives students who demonstrate financial need opportunities to work on campus part-time (max 10 hours/week) during the fall/winter terms and full-time (max 35 hours/week) over the summer. Learn more.

  1. Update your resume and make sure your cover letter up to date
  2. Get in touch with your academic advisor or look up professors in your faculty that are working in areas of research you are interested in and email them to ask if they are hiring for the summer.
  3. Sign up for resume/cover letter workshops (these are available sometimes through OSCARPLUS)
  4. Apply
    • Check job boards or McMaster programs such as:
      • The McMaster USRAs – This group cultivates and supports research partnerships between faculty members and undergraduate students.
      • LinkedIn
      • Indeed
      • Glassdoor
      • Jumpstart
  1. Network

Internships/Co-op placements and Research positions can be competitive, so try to stand out by:

    • Reaching out to recruiters, employees or faculty members at places you want to work on LinkedIn or by email.
    • Attending events, such as conventions, symposiums, hackathons/case competitions to network with recruiters and peers.


Check out AwardSpring to find the scholarships and bursaries that you are eligible for.

During the year, Mac’s Money Centre shares tips and hosts workshops to help you budget and manage your finances effectively during university.