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Living at Home and Commuting

Parents sometimes have trouble accepting that their “little kids” are growing up. If you’re living with your family, a good relationship with your parents will make your time at McMaster much more enjoyable.

University is a time of personal growth and for trying new things. Set up a meeting with your family to calmly discuss curfews, privacy and other house rules.

Not everyone in your family may understand the pressures and demands of university education, so adjusting to your university life will take time, effort and patience on everyone’s part. Be willing to compromise.

7 Tips to Help With the Transition to University, While Living at Home

  1. Be considerate about keeping in touch with those at home. Always let someone know where you are so they aren’t worried and wondering.
  2. Post your class schedule and a list of the dates of major tests or assignments for your family to see.
  3. Keep a list of important names and numbers where your family members can reach you, if necessary.
  4. Even as a student, you’re still a member of the family. Make an effort to help with chores around the house and try to make it home for dinner a few times a week to share a meal and catch up on each other’s lives.
  5. Be responsible. If you plan to be partying on-campus, don’t drink and drive. Make other arrangements – stay with some friends locally or carpool with friends. Make sure your family knows where you are.
  6. Earn greater independence by demonstrating your maturity: do your own laundry; make your own lunch or dinner; wash your dirty dishes. If you were living off-campus in a rental unit, you’d have to do all these things for yourself anyway!
  7. Respect the house rules. Even though you may be older and more independent, it is still your parents’ house – so there may be some rules you’ll just have to accept while you’re living there.


A. The best thing to do is rent a locker. They are located inside various buildings across campus, so you should think about where most of your classes are going to be held, then look for a locker nearby. There are a limited number of lockers available, so make sure you sign up for one during the first week of school. All lockers are assigned first come, first served. Payment is required.  Learn more about renting a locker here. 

A. There are no communal refrigerators, so best to keep it in your locker, with a cold pack. There are several microwaves located on the first floor of the Student Centre. The Student Wellness Lower Lounge (SWELL), located in the basement of the Student Centre, has a microwave – and free tea – and free fruit on Fridays!

A.  The Students Union runs a service called SWHAT (Student Walk Home Attendant Team).  Two of their trained volunteers will come meet you anywhere on campus and walk you home within “Zone 1”, or even take the bus with you if you live a bit further away.

You should also read these tips about staying safe while walking alone.

A. Security Services runs the lost and found service. They have a drop-off bin beside the main elevator in the Student Centre.  If you are looking for an item, you must register through the Campus Security website, and they will try to find a match in their system. You should also check the various “Class of (Year)” Facebook pages; often students will post about items they’ve found.

A. There are lots of ways to meet people, but it will take a bit of effort on your part, since these people are not living down the hall from you, like in residence.

  1. Join our Facebook page: Class of (year) – McMaster University – Off-Campus Students. We will be posting here about all sorts of activities and events that we have planned for our incoming off-campus and commuter students.  It’s also a great forum to share your questions and concerns, since the off-campus reps will also be part of this group, so they can share their knowledge and experiences, having gone through this within the last year or two.
  2. Come out to our Summer Sneak Peek events, Summer Sleepover and Welcome Week! We run special events throughout July, and all welcome week, just for off-campus and commuter students. You will have the chance to meet and mingle with students from your faculty, and maybe find a new buddy to commute to campus with!  Come and look for the reps in the orange jumpsuits and they’ll take care of you!  Details: macwelcomeweek.ca
  3. Join the Mac/One program. This program is designed to solve the exact problem you are worried about!  By joining, you will be placed into a community with other off-campus students, based on a common interest.  That community will then be paired with one of the residence buildings, so you can meet more like-minded students.  Throughout the school year, you will be given a key to access the residence building common areas, to encourage casual socializing whenever you feel like it.  There will also be numerous events designed for your community group, to help build those personal connections.
  4. Join the Society of Off-Campus Students (SOCS). SOCS has been a student group for over 35 years.  They run social events all through the school year for their members. One of the most popular benefits of being a member is the fact you can play on one of their intramural teams for free (with the purchase of a $15 membership)!
  5. Join one of over 300 clubs on campus. During the 1st week of school, be sure to check out Clubsfest in the centre of campus. Every club will be present to tell you about their mission and focus.