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Check out the advice for incoming students from our Smart Start team
Getting around campus
One of the biggest stressors for transitioning to university is learning how to make your way around, or wondering if you will have time to make it from class to the next. Here is a breakdown of our campus building codes and main entrances, along with major bus routes and a campus map. Your instructors will also allow you to leave 10 minutes before the end of your class, to make it to your next one.
Worried about taking the bus? You can download the St. Catharines Transit app on your smartphone to receive live updates on the location of your bus!
Road to Honour Roll
Your academic transition to university can be supported by a range of services offered to Brock University students for free. Whether you require more hands-on support or personalized support, there is a community of people that are ready to help with your first year experience. It is also good to develop healthy studying and lifestyle habits of your own, making sure you find a balance between school work and taking care of yourself.
Located in the Guernsey Market Dining Hall, Learning Services offers different levels of academic support to students throughout their programs. Considerations are made for different learning styles, and much of the programming is available both in person and virtually.
Matthew’s Experience: Drop-In Academic Support
Learning how to properly cite your work can be overwhelming in your first semester of university as you transition from high school. Each department/program usually sticks to one citation style (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.), allowing you to learn it, and master it. Being in the Sport Management program, using APA style has become second nature to me over the past three years, however, it wasn’t always that way, and that’s okay! Brock offers free drop-in sessions with upper-year students who can help you with your in-text citations, reference list, footnotes, etc. I used this service for help with one assignment towards the end of my first semester and it was a turning point for me–my only regret was not using it sooner. Whether you need support or not, this is a useful resource to keep in mind. For example, I had an assignment for my Canadian Studies course later in first year that required students to use Chicago style citations. It was comforting to know that if I ran into any issues, the drop-in academic support could help.
Your academic advisors are here to help! Each program has an assigned academic advisor, who is there for guidance on program plans, experiential opportunities, and making sure that your degree works for you.
Maahum: Faculty of Education Advising
As a Year 6 Concurrent Education student, I needed to complete my undergraduate degree before I could begin Teachers College. There were a number of exit requirements that I had to be mindful of when registering for my classes, like making sure I did not take too many Level 1 courses, that I had fulfilled specific subject requirements, and that I achieved certain final grades in these classes. This meant I was checking in with my academic advisors at least once a year! I always felt much better being able to connect with someone and talk about my next steps in my degree, and having them lay out the exact courses I would most benefit from. Making it a habit to visit my advisors yearly proved to be beneficial for me and reflected in the smooth transition I had to Teachers College.
Matthew: Sport Management Advising
In Sport Management, it is important to follow the year to year program guide on the 2023-24 undergraduate calendar as closely as possible. However, it is okay to recognize when you cannot take on a full course load, as your wellbeing is the priority above all else. When I was in second year and fully online in 2020, taking a full course load was too much for me to handle. Knowing I was struggling, I made the decision to only take four courses instead of five in the winter semester. I connected with Stephanie Brooks (SPMA’s upper year academic advisor; contact Nicole Therrien in first year) and we agreed that it was best if I took SPMA 2P65 (a required course for the degree) in my third year. If you find yourself in a situation where you feel you need to take one less course, even if it is a required course, there are various options available to you to get you back on track after. Nicole and Stephanie are excellent resources for you!
During your time at Brock, you will send many emails to your professors, TA’s, academic advisors, peers, etc. Therefore, it is extremely important to write emails in a professional manner at all times using proper email etiquette. For example, it is considered a sign of respect to your professors by addressing them as Professor or Doctor (if they have that distinction) in your salutation, and to include your course code in the subject line of the email. Professors may not respond to disorganized, unprofessional, or poorly punctuated emails, so take a look at the “do’s and don'ts” when sending Brock emails, as well as the “sample email to my professor.”
Use a proper subject line:
Whoever you are emailing needs the basic information of what the email is about. Professors may not even view emails with a subject line they do not deem to be worth their time. Therefore, be sure to include the course code and reason for the email in the subject line. This will also help with response time.
E.g., “PSYC 1F90 Quiz #1”
Use proper salutations:
If your instructor is a Doctor, it is always best to refer to them as such. In elementary and high school it is respectful to use Mr. or Ms. to address your teacher; in university, use Dr. or Prof. (if you are unsure if they are a Dr.)
When emailing TA’s and academic advisors, using their first name is fine.
Begin each email with a salutation such as “Hi Dr. Bryant,” or “Good evening Prof. Hyatt,”
Proofread and be concise:
You are in university now! Proofreading is essential for any written assignment you complete, but is also needed when emailing. Especially when emailing a professor or TA (who mark your assignments), you do not want your text to be riddled with errors. Present yourself as a student that takes pride in everything you do.
Professors, TA’s, and academic advisors appreciate inquiries that are straight and to the point. They have a lot of students asking them questions about assignments, excused absences, course schedules, etc., and have busy schedules themselves, so limiting the word count while including all the relevant information is key.
Being concise also involves being organized. Separating your thoughts into short paragraphs is crucial for getting the best response and keeping the recipient engaged.
As students, you will not always be happy with a grade you receive, how an assignment is structured, etc., but maintaining a positive tone in your written communication is important for a couple of reasons. For one, the chances of getting what you want go down significantly if you construct your email in a negative tone; respectful inquiries go a long way towards a favourable solution. Additionally, professors and TA’s will talk to each other just as teachers in high school do, so your reputation is often affected by your conduct and communication style.
University is the beginning of your career, so be professional.
Use poor punctuation:
It is increasingly difficult for the reader to follow along when the text is not properly punctuated, as the email, essay, report, etc. becomes highly disorganized.
Disorganized emails could lead to your message being lost in translation.
If you struggle with writing, Brock’s Learning Services offers support through its drop-in hours, workshops, and tutoring.
Use buzzwords and acronyms/abbreviations:
Keeping a professional tone in your written communication involves using words that everyone understands, while refraining from using slang terminology.
Acronyms and abbreviations should only be used when the recipient will undoubtedly understand what it means (i.e., a Sport Management professor would understand that “SPMA” is the shortened version of Sport Management).
Put anyone down:
This is your reminder that emails can be forwarded to others! Do not make a comment about someone that you would not be okay with them seeing.
Forget the conversation closer:
Based on how you end your email, it should be clear if you are expecting a response in return. If you have a question, be clear about the type of answer you wish to receive. If the email is merely informative or you have reached the end of a conversation, use language to suggest a reply is not necessary, such as “see you in seminar”.
Be sure to include a closing remark (e.g., sincerely, best, thank you, etc.), followed by your first and last name (at least in your initial email).
Sample email to my professor:
Subject: SPMA 3P07 Group Project
Hi Dr. ________ ,
I was wondering if you have any time tomorrow to have a brief discussion on Teams about how my group's ideas are coming along. We have some articles and themes emerging with a rough idea for the proposed study, but before I examine them further it would be helpful to discuss everything with you.
Please let me know if this would work for you and which times would be best.
This email is very concise, as I wasted no time building up to what I wanted to ask, while disclosing relevant information such as my group’s progress as of that point. I also included an additional line to confirm the type of response I was requesting, followed by a closing remark and my first and last name. I made sure to include the reason for the email in the subject line with the course code, and addressed my professor as Dr. in the salutation. Overall, the structure and professionalism present in this sample email is how you should go about emailing at Brock.
One of the biggest differences for me as I transitioned to university was my student schedule. Because I didn't have the same routine everyday, I had to figure out how to structure my time. This is why organization is one of the most important skills to have in order to be successful at university. The earlier you focus on it, the better your results will be down the line in your university journey. To help you with this, I have compiled a few of my go-to organizational tips which I found helped me tackle university.
- Wake up on time!
While hitting the snooze button to sleep in for a couple of minutes sounds relaxing, the best way to start your day is to physically get out of bed at the time you planned - when you start your day strong and productive you will have the energy to get all your tasks done. I am a morning person so in my first year my day would start at 6:00 am! I felt that this gave me more than enough time during the day to get stuff done and if I ever slept in, I would feel short on time which stresses me out. So, waking up on time helped to keep me calm and manage my day.
- Plan your day:
Time is a valuable commodity for a university student, so in order to make the most of it I’d recommend making a schedule of daily tasks. This may include eating breakfast, studying for a certain class, going to the gym, binge Youtube etc. Personally, this helped me develop a healthy routine where I could track how much time was being spent on useful activities and reduce procrastination. I also make note of one or two specific things that I want to complete by the end of the day to ensure I get to my top priorities. By systematically tackling your day, you will not feel overwhelmed by everything happening around you. If you’re unsure of how to organize your day, I used the planners sold at the Campus Store to get started.
- Keep track of deadlines:
University has a lot of important dates to remember, from academic dates to financial ones, or even events. All these days can be hard to juggle, and can even be forgotten. For example, in the Fall semester of 2021, I had three end of term assignments which were given out in September but were all due in the first week of December, with various interim deadlines to keep track of. To make sure you don’t miss any deadlines, I recommend tracking them in a calendar. Digital calendars can be found on most devices, but for those who love to write stuff down by hand, like me, the Campus Store sells dry-erase wall calendars, which I believe is a must-buy for all Brock students.
- Keep neat notes:
A main component of attending classes is having to take notes. My life hack to ensure I take the best notes is writing by hand. It's scientifically proven that taking notes by hand improves your ability to understand information. Keeping your notes neat and organized plays a huge role in your success at university: for example, keeping a separate notebook or binder for each class you have, and having some sort of storage for any loose sheets of paper that you may need to carry. I personally enjoy color coding my notes, writing definitions in a blue marker, headings in purple, and formulas in green. This helps me decipher information quicker with the added bonus of giving my notes a nice pop! Remember, the art of note-taking is knowing how to condense information into the most important points. One recommendation to improve your notetaking skills is to attend the “How to Take Effective Notes” offered through Learning Services.
Sleeping is quite frankly the most important - and my favourite - part of the day! But it’s also something that we tend to neglect. Young adults need about 7-9 hours of sleep per day, and while this may not be possible every night, aiming for it is the healthiest option. Getting a good night’s sleep helps to revive your muscles, your brain, and gets you ready for your next busy day!
Pro-tip: The James A. Gibson Library is your friend! During your time at Brock, you will be spending a lot of time using the site for researching and accessing journal articles for assignments. But, the Library website is so much more than that. You can use printing services, book study spaces, have access to program-specific librarians, and much more.
Lam: Booking a Study Room
Going into my third year, the most frequently used service that I participate in is the bookable study space in the library. They can definitely fill up fast, so it’s important to check out the time and room availability and book ahead! In my opinion, Brock Library study spaces offer great privacy and convenience for students. For every project or presentation, I’ve used these spaces to have meetings with my classmates and peers. We would connect our laptops to the big screen for collaboration and use the remaining space to prep and plan. Don’t forget - practice makes perfect, Badgers!
Maahum: Using Exam Reserves
In Spring 2019, I was enrolled in APCO 1P01 to satisfy one of my program requirements. Halfway through the course, I became unwell and realized I would need to defer my final exam until the Winter 2019 exam period. I felt quite nervous and unprepared at that moment because I knew I would be writing an exam for a different professor, several months down the line. This was the first time I ever explored the exam reserves list on the library website. Some instructors archive past exams on this page, so students can use it as a resource to study from in future years. Not only did it help me prepare to write the exam, it also alleviated a lot of stress for me and I went into the final feeling a lot more confident. This is a resource that is often forgotten about, so be sure to keep it in the back of your minds!
Six Ways to Build Connections
The number one question we receive from students is about how they can make friends and new connections when they arrive on campus. Here are our top six recommendations on how to put yourself out there and build new relationships in the Brock community:
Shaili: Engagement Community Senior Leader
Throughout my undergrad, I’ve been able to work as a Senior Leader with the Student Life and Success department right here at Brock! Many Ontario schools have shifted to virtual learning in recent months, which can be stressful and overwhelming. My role as a senior leader was to provide support to incoming students via a virtual platform in order to ease their transition into their undergraduate studies. Not only was I able to work remotely, but I also had the opportunity to meet with other incredible Brock students who shared a passion for our community. I am so grateful for this opportunity because it has changed my perspective on online learning and leadership. The pandemic demonstrated how unpredictable and adaptable the world can be; however, Brock continued to provide job opportunities to students in order to keep our hearts connected to our Niagara community.
Lam: Volunteer work with Niagara Children’s Center
When I first arrived in Canada as an international student, I was strongly motivated to try volunteering. My main goals were to learn more about the Niagara Region and improve my social skills. I started my search by going on Brock’s Community Engagement website and ExperienceBU. With community partners across the region, Brock offers many rewarding opportunities for students, from assisting retirement homes to helping children with disabilities. I started volunteering for the Smile Cookies Campaign with Niagara Children’s Center, and it was one of my most cherished memories during my second year. We joined hands in decorating cookies at different Tim Horton’s locations in St. Catharines, and although it was challenging for someone who had only been in Canada for two months, I was proud and excited to be stepping out of my comfort zone. I realized my keen interest for customer service and building relationships, I met other young people who were passionate about social work, and I engaged in conversations with seniors who have been working with children in the Niagara region for nearly 30 years. My number one advice for first year students would be to get yourself out there as much as possible. You may think your contribution is small in comparison to peers, but as a matter of fact, you are helping to change the lives of hundreds or millions of others in your community.
Matt: Niagara Riverhawks Junior ‘C’ Hockey Club Volunteer Statistician
For SPMA 1P92, we needed 8 volunteer hours working in sport for an assignment. Although it was not my first choice at the time, I ended up volunteering for the Niagara Riverhawks, a local Junior C hockey team in Niagara Falls, as a statistician. I completed my hours and handed in my assignment, but enjoyed my role with the team so much that I have stayed with the organization throughout my years at Brock. Getting involved with the Niagara community has made me feel more connected to the area, and I am very grateful that things worked out the way they did. Everyone in the organization is so friendly, I gained valuable experience through the various tasks of my position, and have great references on hand when applying to jobs who can speak to my high work ethic. Moral of the story: Even if something may seem small and insignificant at first, put in the effort to see it through and see where it takes you.
Brock University offers a plethora of amenities and programs for our students to stay active throughout the school year through Brock Recreation. And the best part is, almost all of it can be accessed at no additional cost! Please see the infographic below for some of the main facilities that we have on campus. Visit brocku.ca/recreation for more information.
Shree: Basketball Intramurals
A great place to build connections, as well as to stay active, is through intramurals. During my fourth year I played intramurals for the first time, playing both 3-on-3 and 5-a-side basketball with my friends. I found it to be a great way to meet new people, from various faculties, who share a common interest in basketball, and want to play in a structured (but also recreational) setting. The best thing about intramurals is that you can register as a team, or an individual where the intramural organizers will place you on a team with other players - this is a great way to make new friends! Overall, I would highly recommend getting involved with intramurals, in whatever sport interests you. Brock offers a lot of sports to choose from, so you will surely find something that interests you!
Your classes are a great way to connect with your peers, professors, and teaching assistants. Seminars, labs, and tutorials are perfect for one-on-one interactions with people in your classes and for breaking down lecture content. Other strategies to build long-lasting relationships are attending office hours and having a buddy in each of your classes.
Shaili: Building Connections in Labs
Many first-year lectures will be accompanied by seminars, labs, and/or tutorials. I had a lot of labs to attend during my first year of university as a biological science major. The best part about attending these smaller, interactive classes is that you have plenty of opportunities to connect with teaching assistants and other Badgers who have similar interests. I remember being nervous about my first BIOL 1P91 lab because I didn't know anyone. However, once the session started, I was easily able to strike up a conversation with other students because the course itself is a common interest! A lot of lab exercises are done in pairs, so this is another great way to make one-on-one connections. I believe that having smaller classes helped me become more comfortable in new environments and connect with students much more quickly and easily!
Lam: Building Connections with your Professor
As a Business Co-op student, one of my biggest pieces of advice for first-year students is networking. You don’t have to look far and wide, your professor is the first point of contact if you want to build initial connections for professional development. I ended my second year on a good note, with an invitation to do a research project with my Human Resources professor. I cannot stress enough the importance of “being present”. You make the first good impression by showing up in class and making an effort to learn. Although the course was delivered in a hybrid model, where students were not obligated to come to class, I took my 7:45 am bus to Brock every Tuesday and Friday for the in-person learning experience, as well as direct contact with the professor. No effort goes unnoticed. By the end of term, I received an invite to join the professor’s research team for the summer, while one of my closest friends got an offer for a Co-op placement from another professor. Brock professors are always ready to support and give you valuable advice that you will carry throughout your career journey. I hope you will take class attendance not as an obligation, but as an opportunity to grow and network.
Shree: Co-op Experience
A large part of the university experience here at Brock is building connections that stretch outside the classroom and into the community. This is where experiential education comes in, as every program at Brock offers a course, or project, that allows you to take the theoretical concepts you learn in school and apply it to a real-world setting. The most recognizable form of this is co-op.
I have completed three co-op terms as a student in the Accounting program, and in my experience, both the program, and the Co-op Department, have been great. By having the opportunity to work at a Big 4 Accounting firm, I was able to get hands-on experience with client files. Furthermore, through the course of working with so many files, I was introduced to many new accounting concepts that were not part of the school curriculum, thus broadening my knowledge of accounting. It was also nice to get to know your colleagues, some of whom have decades of experience in the field, and were Brock students back in the day!
Through this whole process, the Co-op Department was by my side, providing a plethora of resources to help guide me in finding a job. Right from first year, the department reaches out to you and invites you to various networking sessions and workshops, where you can meet prospective employers and learn how to write strong cover letters and resumes. These, as well as the mandatory co-op 0N90 class, certainly taught me a lot on how to present myself in a professional way to prospective employers, and in the end, it really worked. Your co-op advisors are always available if you need any assistance, such as reviewing resumes and cover letters, and also providing advice on career pathways. My advice to all co-op students is to leverage the resources that the Co-op Department provides, as these can really help you stand out from the crowd.
Shaili: HBSc/BEd Practicum Experience (Year 5)
Hello Future Badgers! The practicum opportunities, which will commence in the 2nd year of your concurrent education program, are a large component of my Brock experience. Experiential learning is a valuable asset because it teaches teacher candidates how to apply course theory to classroom settings. As I move into my final year of the Concurrent Education program in the intermediate/senior stream, I have gained extensive knowledge on creating lesson plans, communicating with students, and reflecting on my teaching strategies by using constructive feedback.
My 5th year practicum was one of my most memorable experiences. I was in a grade 10 science class where I taught the biology unit. Throughout this practicum, I was able to apply my knowledge from the concurrent education program and implement a variety of hands-on learning experiences for my class. For example, teaching the circulatory system through a blood pressure lab, learning anatomy through a frog dissection, and understanding cell organelles using a lot of Pictionary! These are priceless moments that I will cherish forever, and I am grateful to Brock for allowing me to make the most of my academic journey.
Matthew: Sport Management Internship
A pillar of the Sport Management program is the fourth year internship program that provides students hands-on experience working for a sport organization. If you wish to complete an internship later in your degree, it is important to keep in mind the 70% major average requirement and the SPMA 3P82 pre-requisite. Throughout your courses in years 1-3, I suggest trying to figure out the area of sport management that interests you the most, whether that be marketing, human resources, finance, etc. This allows you to start gaining relevant experiences during your undergrad to boost your resume and make your internship applications stand out! For example, if you decide you want to get into sport media, start finding media specific opportunities right away. Some people will take longer to figure this out than others, but it is important to start thinking about this sooner rather than later.