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 A Question for all Prospective iSci Students

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Jyssika Russell



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PostSubject: A Question for all Prospective iSci Students   Sun Jan 24, 2010 1:49 am

Now that you, the prospective students, have had some opportunities to ask us some questions, it's time to turn the tables.

We, the iSci students, like many other university students, are in a bit of a bubble. So, we really don't know what people are saying or thinking about iSci. I'm wondering if you guys can help us get a better idea of what people (and when I mean people, I mean high school students) are thinking about the program, how much do they know about the program, what people have been saying about the program, etc.

We also want to know what you've heard about the program, how did you find out about it, and what promotional material for the program you have seen. We really want to know what the current perception of the program is to make sure that it is accurate and to ensure that awareness of the program is growing.

So please, let us know what you know! it'd be a big help Smile

Jyssika
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PostSubject: A Question for all Prospective iSci Students   Sun Jan 24, 2010 11:00 am

I first learned about the program when I was in grade 11 before you guys were even in the program, and based on the rather limiting description (which should probably be updated bit on the main mac website) it sounded really interesting/unique experience...

I've gotten a few of my friends to also apply to the program, but even with your best efforts, not everyone will hear about the program since it's new and all, for a few years at least. When I tell people I'm considering it for my top choice, yes, I have heard that you don't want to be a guinea pig, blah blah, honestly though I don't buy that because so much planning obviously has to go into any university program and its not like these profs are teaching for the first time - they're all experts in their fields.

However even I haven't really seen much of what you've guys have actually done. There's the facebook page, the fall preview at mac, so I'll have to say that more promotional material is definitely needed to see what you actually do in a day/week/semester of iSci, not just descriptions of your projects themselves. This will help even really interested people confirm their decision that iSci is the program they want to accept and harbor increased interest by leaps and bounds.

My personal thoughts on the matter are that you're doing a good job, but it will take a bit of time for iSci to become a household name, and as more and more kids enter each year, exponentially more people/their friends will know about it, leading to high popularity, much like how everyone has some cousins neighbours sons friend in healthsci. Which is something that's a bit scary, and so I'm glad to think that I have a MUCH better chance to get in this year, than even say, even 3 years down the road.
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PostSubject: Re: A Question for all Prospective iSci Students   Sun Jan 24, 2010 1:19 pm

I first heard, or rather, read about the program early last year. I would periodically look through the admission averages of the different programs at McMaster, and noticed a program I hadn't seen before: "Integrated Sciences". I had no idea what it entailed, so out of curiosity I looked it up to get more information. At that time, I didn't have a whole lot to go by, but I had an idea of what the program was about.

Not until a little later in the year, after lots of random clicking around on the Mac website, did I find the iSci website (which felt like a godsend by that point). I think the PDF of the iSci posters was the most informative because it consolidated some of the most valuable information. It also gives you more of an idea of how the program is structured, rather than just just reading the same paragraph; "iSci is an interdisciplinary program based on thematic modules....".

To be honest, I haven't seen a lot of promotional material that's easily accessible. While I feel I have accumulated a lot of knowledge about the program, I've had to go out of my way to get a better understanding. Whenever someone asks me about the programs I've applied to and I mention iSci, they always give me a quizzical look to which I go through a little spiel trying to explain how it fuses different areas of science, puts an emphasis on research, etc. These people include current Mac students, as well, which I found surprising. All one of my engineering friends knew about you guys was that you took up an entire floor at Thode, haha. In all seriousness, though, I think that if the students had a basic understanding of the program it could be an advantageous "word of mouth" advertisement. That in conjunction with more published advertisements, heck, even facebook adverts could help spread the iSci name.

That's all I can think of at the moment. I hope that helps a little!
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Jyssika Russell



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PostSubject: Re: A Question for all Prospective iSci Students   Sun Jan 24, 2010 11:04 pm

Thanks for your feed back guys! We are definitely working on raising awareness about our program, for both within and outside of McMaster. We know there is a lot of work to be done, both by us and by the university, but it really helps knowing what you've found to be most difficult or most useful.
In fact, our director has expressed interest in updating the website, and I would like to make it more complete, up to date, accurate, and informative. What do you guys think would be the most useful information for either yourselves or your peers to be able to get a better and complete idea of the program?
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PostSubject: A Question for all Prospective iSci Students   Mon Jan 25, 2010 7:05 pm

I know I'd like to see some of the work you guys have done over the semester/year, the video of the pres of mac/dean of science was interesting and all but kind of a repetition of what was already stated in words with some nice visuals. I mean, for all the boast about research projects, I think it would help to see some of the finished products.
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PostSubject: Re: A Question for all Prospective iSci Students   Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:10 pm

So, first things first. Because this is a new program, not a lot of people in my school are aware of this program. I would say roughly about 1/20 students know about the program. I know some of my friends who applied to the program, but they do not know a lot of things about this program. But I wouldn’t worry too much, because this is a new program, and new program always happens to be this way.

So what did I hear about the program, and how? First, I think I told you guys previously that I was in Shad Valley Program. I was in university of Dalhousie, but we were all connected in some ways. So my friends in McMaster Shad Valley told me about the program. I heard that it was combination of all sciences (which interested me a great deal). Then I started to research about the program. However, I was unable to find a lot of useful information. Also, it wasn’t like health science where I could easily obtain necessary information, because it is the first time it has been introduced. I scanned through the entire iSci website, and found the video as well as the facebook page, then I found more about the program in this forum. More importantly, I did happen to go to the open day, and I saw the program, which helped me to understand more things about the program.

As for what others were saying about about iSci, they told me that it sounds like an interesting program, but it could be a bit unsafe. I have many friends in health science this year and second year. Especially because some of them happens to be my friend’s siblings, I had no difficulties obtaining information inside McMaster. They knew about the program, and they had rough idea of what you guys do. They did tell me that it would be a good program if I am interested in all sciences. They also told me that it could be a good idea to be cautious (and they meant no disrespect Smile ). I think by now, half of the people in my school think that this is another program like health science, because everyone who applied happens to be mid to high 90s. In general, I think people are really opened about this program, because most of them do not know which science is a better fit for them. …Another thing is, I have a university prof as my tutor, and he has been saying that the program sounds great, but it could be unsafe, because there has been many other new programs that has been introduced but weren’t really successful. Of course, I strongly disagree with that, especially for programs like this Smile

I think raising awareness is a fantastic idea. And yes updating the website could be more helpful. Two things I suggest you guys might want to focus on is the projects and the integration of science component. It seems that more people like to have projects than a test (maybe that is just our school, but who knows -_-). Also, not a lot of people know exactly which path of science they want to follow (I think it has to do with the fact that the government took out grade 13 a few years ago, so not a lot people are aware of their path). Because iSci gives individuals chance to explore and find out their true strength, I think this will help to attract more students.

Also, another minor thing you may need to mention is what you guys do outside the class and study time. For instance, the health science program seems to have a lot of interesting videos that promote its program (they can be easily found in youtube as well). I know you guys are very busy (considering how one of you told me how you guys barely get any sleep Smile ), but I think you guys should try to do something similar or even more creative. Most people in highschool entering university wants to have fun studying their field, but individuals may also want to be in a program where there are lots of fun things to do other than studying as well.

OMG, sorry about writing so many things T_T…(as well as horrible grammar T_T)
-James
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PostSubject: Re: A Question for all Prospective iSci Students   Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:24 pm

Another thing I just remembered is the university fair in toronto a few month ago. (Maybe I am wrong but...) I do not think I have seen a booth for integrated science. Maybe if there is, it could bring interest upon many students Smile
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Jyssika Russell



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PostSubject: Re: A Question for all Prospective iSci Students   Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:29 pm

I seem to remember our profs going to the fair. I'm not quite sure if we had our own booth or not. I do know that some current iSci students heard about the program through that fair last year. I'm hoping that we can maybe have a few students go to that next year to represent. This year the booth at McMaster's fall preview in the student centre was run mostly by us the students, which was a lot of fun, and I think it gave students a good idea of the program. Also, if you are a prospective student, and are interested in the program, March @ Mac and May @ Mac are great ways to learn a bit more about the school, take a look at the campus, and I'm hoping some real-life iScis may be able to attend (like myself Smile).

Also, if you were at a presentation by McMaster University at your high school, did they mention iSci at all, and if so, do you think it was accurate? I've heard some stories about some presenters not giving a true/knowledgeable depiction of the program...
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PostSubject: Re: A Question for all Prospective iSci Students   Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:38 pm

Oh, is the march@mac some sort of orientation/ open day? (I will see if I can fit in my schedule Smile )

Yes, the presenters did mention about iSci, but I have a feeling that they don't know too much about it. All they told me was the supplementary question from last year (if you are an element in a periodic table, what would you be- I love that question Smile ) I think there should be a representative from iSci who can come to visit schools and talk about the program. That would be much more affective (but I know you guys are all busy)
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Jyssika Russell



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PostSubject: Re: A Question for all Prospective iSci Students   Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:49 pm

Sorry James, I didn't see you previous post! Thanks for the tips, they really are a big help. Its hard to know what to focus on a what not when you are so close and "integrated" into the program.

It was interesting that you mentioned the fact that iSci allows you to help find where you want to go. A point that I also want to make sure is clear in our promotion is that iSci is also great even if you do have a clear plan or direction. Even if you are not planning on studying physics for the rest of your life, a good background in it can help you in your pursuit of other sciences. Not to mention that having a foundation in sciences that you do not specialize in is also a great asset when working with others in different fields. It also changes the way you approach a problem. A physicist and biologist may approach a problem in a different way, but someone who has been trained in both areas may be able to view a problem from both of those perspectives.

And when you mention that you went to Mac on the "open day", are you speaking of fall preview?

And as for people thinking that iSci is another Health Sciences, it's really not. I would say it is more like the Arts&Science program. Even if you don't have mid to high 90's, that doesn't mean you aren't a perfect candidate for the program. In fact, I'm hoping that the professors also look at students that may not have super crazy high marks, but have interest in the program and are really enthusiastic about integrating concepts.

And as always, people do speak of the concern that it is not "safe". I would honestly say that in iSci, you have to take chances, make mistakes, and get messy (you also have to do this on the magic school bus), so you might as well start doing those things by applying Very Happy

And, sorry, I made a mistake about March at Mac. I've heard the name float around, but I do know that they have tours during March Break. However, May @ Mac is pretty big, and it is more specific to whichever program you are considering. I know that a lot of iScis went to it last year, and it was pretty informative. That usually occurs right before or right after acceptances are sent out ( I think it is planned for May Cool. I hope that a few iSci's will be able to attend ( I would like to be there, but I do live far away).

As for an iSci representative, already the universities are fairly restricted to the amount of promotion they are allowed to do in high schools, and Mac has a lot of programs to represent. I do hope that iSci students will be able to do more promotion in the surrounding area, but who knows. It's generally a problem for smaller programs to get their name out there, so that's why we're trying to do our best with this forum and our current website, etc. However, if there are any iSci specific things coming your way, I'll be sure to let you all know about it.
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PostSubject: Re: A Question for all Prospective iSci Students   Tue Jan 26, 2010 12:10 am

It's ok. And yes, I totally understand what you are saying.

Also, yes, I am speaking of the fall preview day. So I got to ask some questions there, which were quite helpful.

P.S. Just finished my supplementary form, and im planning on submitting at the end of this week Smile wooot
thanks
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PostSubject: Re: A Question for all Prospective iSci Students   Thu Jan 28, 2010 4:29 pm

I think a really good way to to channel potential students is by taking advantage of the internet and social networking sites, which is what I've noticed that you guys have started doing. But what I've noticed among people, and myself included, is that you can read all the passages of text that you want, but seeing visual representations(pictures/videos/etc) fosters a better understanding and familiarity with a concept in a shorter amount of time.

I personally think it would be neat(there's that word again, haha) if you guys made a "Day in the Life of an iSci" video. Take a camera around with you, add your personal commentary, even conduct short interviews with your profs and classmates. Add a bit of humour in there and you'll be able to "connect" with a lot of potential students because it's something that they can relate to. Most of the time, any information you find on a program is very official - as if you're being spoken "down" too. By giving people the opportunity to actually see and hear what you as students have to say brings you down to their level and may encourage a lot more people to apply. You guys are really cool people and I think you should use that to your advantage when advertising.
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PostSubject: Re: A Question for all Prospective iSci Students   Thu Jan 28, 2010 7:34 pm

Hi Tatjana,
unfortunately not all students are brave enough to post on sites such as these, so we end up with quite a liited audience. As for a movie, we students currently have one in the works. Details are the "Communication Issues" section of the forum, which you may or may not have access to (This is Prateek's department, not mine). What kind of information would you find most valuable in a promotional video?
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Jyssika Russell



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PostSubject: Re: A Question for all Prospective iSci Students   Thu Jan 28, 2010 10:19 pm

I agree with the visuals thing. We're working on some things, like the video, to take several approaches to explaining and representing the program.

Also, I know I mentioned May@Mac, and things going on during March Break. I have received information that there will be some things going on during March Break for prospective students, some of which is specifically iSci.
I don't know of specific dates, or confirmed activities, but if you can keep a day or two of your March break free, I think we'll be having some cool stuff going on that will give you a better idea of the program, and maybe give you the chance to talk to some of us in person Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: A Question for all Prospective iSci Students   Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:01 am

Oh, a video... WE ARE WORKING ON IT!!!

Haha, it's one of the main initiatives here in the Communications Front.

It will involve details from the professors and the students, as well as displaying much of the major space.

Nonetheless, the video will only serve as a hook to provide a brief overview of the program. I would recommend visiting iSci (really anyday while you're free I'm sure a couple of students and/or a professor would be willing to explain the program to you and show you around).

Moreover, come during Open House days. Trust us, there will be a STRONG iSci presence!!
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PostSubject: Re: A Question for all Prospective iSci Students   Fri Jan 29, 2010 1:06 am

Solomon Barkley wrote:
Hi Tatjana,
unfortunately not all students are brave enough to post on sites such as these, so we end up with quite a liited audience. As for a movie, we students currently have one in the works. Details are the "Communication Issues" section of the forum, which you may or may not have access to (This is Prateek's department, not mine). What kind of information would you find most valuable in a promotional video?

My idea wasn't primarily to get students to communicate directly to ask questions, if that's what you understood, but more so to provide resources that will invoke curiosity and interest in the program, and will encourage the more timid students to give the program a shot. I was leaning more towards youtube and facebook as information outlets, in the sense that you're relaying information about the program that people can continuously check up on (via status updates, a few videos every once in a while)

Information I would find most valuable? I think having a general idea of what the course material consists of is important, but I also think the day to day aspect of it is just as important. How days/weeks are laid out is a crucial part in knowing how you'll be spending the next four/five years of your life (I realize that in the upper years there is a lot more focus on research so it changes things a bit, but that can also be noted). Just think of the things that you stressed about going in to university: workload, evaluations(assignments/projects, exams, etc), having time for a social life, what your profs would be like, etc...
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Jyssika Russell



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PostSubject: Re: A Question for all Prospective iSci Students   Fri Jan 29, 2010 1:30 am

Interesting perspective, Tatjana. It is true that things are much different when you look at them from day-to-day. One thing to mention about iSci is that rarely do we ever have two days that are the same.

Because we cover all the subjects, you may have chem one monday morning, and math the next Monday, or the odd lab here and there. The schedule is ever-changing, which can be a bit disorienting at first, but it always keeps it interesting.

And Prateek, lol, if you give your post a second read, it makes us all sound really intimidating, with our "STRONG" presence, and our video that WE ARE WORKING ON, lol Razz
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PostSubject: Re: A Question for all Prospective iSci Students   Wed Feb 03, 2010 4:56 pm

See, and that's really important to mention. High school life can get monotonous, so by shedding the light on the the variety of your days it can prove refreshing for a lot of people.

Haha, I didn't initially read Prateek's post as intimidating but when you reword it like that it's lol-worthy.
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PostSubject: Re: A Question for all Prospective iSci Students   Tue May 04, 2010 4:51 pm

Could you please change the site from white on black to black on white? This is just too hard on the eyes!!!
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PostSubject: Re: A Question for all Prospective iSci Students   Tue May 04, 2010 5:31 pm

I kind of like the current colours but will probably get used to it if it changes (but the first few times will suck like facebook when it changes)
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PostSubject: Re: A Question for all Prospective iSci Students   Tue May 04, 2010 6:14 pm

white on black reduces the energy your computer uses!
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