Achieving Excellence with Academic Advising
Houda Al Tabbaa: Biotechnology, Level 1
The winter reading week of my first year did not go as planned as I was playing basketball and severely injured my hand right before midterm season was about to begin. I expected myself to slack off, especially because electricity labs became a lot more challenging but instead I recognized that there were resources to take advantage of during this time. Even in the most unexpected way, Jennifer — my BTech Academic Advisor made my life so much easier and less stressful! Academic Advising is not limited to, as the title suggests — just providing advice on academics. Academic Advisors not only advise and guide you, but they also connect you to the right people across campus which is very important to succeed at University. As a first-year student, we might not be exposed to or aware of all the facilities, services, or resources offered by McMaster which is why I was very thankful to connect with my Advisor. When dealing with my injury, my Advisor connected me to the Student Accessibility Services (SAS) Office and specifically to the person in charge of temporary accommodation, which I didn’t even know was something that was offered! Due to this connection, I was able to receive the accommodation that I required to successfully proceed with my midterms.
I have spoken to Jennifer many times about various topics, including enrollment difficulties, worries about whether this is the right program for me, my grades slacking, my struggles with programming, and a bunch of additional things too. In every meeting, she suggested multiple solutions to my problems, provided validation, and often gave me insights into other students’ experiences. When you reach out to an Academic Advisor you open yourself to a realm of possibilities you didn’t even know existed. For example, my Advisor introduced me to the peer tutoring service at McMaster which was a huge help for me to feel more confident in my courses. Being new to the University and as a first-year student, you don’t have much experience when it comes to overcoming those new obstacles but rest assured that as soon as you reach out to your Academic Advisor, you’re in the best of hands. One additional great part is that the Academic Advising Office is incredibly easy to work with — you only need to send an email specifying who you need to speak to and your McMaster student information.
As one of my professors once said, the difference between going to University to study and going to University for the ‘Degree + Experience’ is like going to a food court vs. a fine dining restaurant. You get to eat in both, but the experience varies greatly. My personal best advice is to make the most out of your “fine dining” experience by making good use of the resources offered by the Academic Advising Office, and connecting with your Academic Advisor is the first step in doing so!
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