Information for Graduating Students

Q & A with former Dawson Commerce Students on Studying at HEC (UdM), Desautels (McGill) and JMSB (Concordia)

What were the 2 biggest adjustments you had to make during your studies at the university level?

Michael from HEC (UdM):

Firstly, I would say that the workload increase significantly. The professor might cover a lot of material during a lecture. Thus, staying alert for the whole class can sometimes be difficult.

Secondly, classes in Cegep are 1h30. Classes are 3 hours in university. Therefore, staying alert during can be challenging sometime for newcomers.

Lubov from Desautels (McGill):

First, the workload is much larger and material is more difficult than in CEGEP. You have to learn to stick to a study plan and schedule your readings. It’s very easy to get behind and that’s very bad – you can’t cram all your studies the weekend before the exam! Especially considering that you may get multiple midterms/finals in the same week.

Second, you will have to figure out what works best for you when you study. Particularly, there are tons of readings to do for all the classes, so it’s often very difficult to actually go through everything in due time. You will have to learn to either take notes, or create study groups with others (ex: to split note taking).

Brenden from JMSB (Concordia):

1st adjustment I had to make was sacrificing a lot of my hobbies to study or get involved. I used to play a lot of video games and had to quit so that I could attend more cocktails, meet more people, and study.

2nd adjustment was learning to adapt to business school. This meant understanding that grades matter a lot less than I initially thought in Cegep.

What 2 things do/did enjoy the most about your university and your business studies?

Michael from HEC (UdM):

University is a very pleasant environment to share bonds with new peers and comrades as we can have some similar interest since we study in the same program.

And, if you have the chance to participate into an exchange program, do it! It is an amazing experience. You meet new people from different countries, travel and learn a lot more about the world and yourself!

Lubov from Desautels (McGill):

Choices/flexibility – you can take courses in other faculties (ex: minor in an unrelated topic), you can go on exchange to another country. You can even build a schedule with a day(s) off!

Second, you start building a network of friends and future colleagues. If you choose the same major, you will likely have many classes with the same people. You get a chance to build strong friendships! Chances are, you will end up doing internships together and will end up eventually working together when you’re done your studies.

Brenden from JMSB (Concordia):

It would be a crime to list only two things I love about business school:

1st thing is the friendships and the knowledge I’ve gained from talking to extremely impressive and talented people during business events. It’s because of that insight I have a good job so early in my academic career.

2nd thing is case competitions. I am part of the John Molson Competition Committee which is a program that sends students to business competitions

What 2 things do/did you find less rewarding about your university and business studies?

Michael from HEC (UdM):

Some people might think that university is the place where you will learn technical skills for a future job. But, a university is still an academic institution where you learn theories from “blah blah” lectures. Thus, you can sometimes feel that it is never ending. Just remember that this is a journey not a sprint.

Accomplishments for me do not come from grades or a piece of paper that says “Congratulation!”. Thus, university can somewhat feel like a circle. A simple routine of lectures, studies, exams and repeat. Not really moving forward or doing something in life. You might feel “depressed” sometimes because you are not doing anything. Balance is then very important.

Lubov from Desautels (McGill):

You have a ton of readings to do/”homework”/assignments. You need to learn to plan ahead and schedule your studying. You need to learn to prioritize.

Group work!! Often people can underperform and/or not be very accountable about what they have to do for the group assignments. Make sure you pair up with people you actually know and trust (to the extent possible) and monitor the progress of group work (meet regularly, keep in touch, make a google doc, etc).

Brenden from JMSB (Concordia):

I found out really quickly that there’s a huge difference between the 98% of business students who don’t go that extra mile to do things outside school and the 2% who are constantly doing things to improve and strive.

Naturally, it’s definitely not for everyone. I’d say the very long hours are a downside: these days I wake up at 5h45 and get home at 23h30.

Secondly, I would say that the university grading system is severely flawed. No matter how hard you work in some classes, you just can’t get A+! My grades don’t even come remotely close to Cegep.

What is the most important recommendation you would give to Dawson Commerce students that hope to study at your business school?

Michael from HEC (UdM):

Form a GOOD study group. Seriously, you will create invaluable bonds who those students. It will help you get better grades and you will have fun studying!

Lubov from Desautels (McGill):

Don’t fall behind / don’t slack off in the beginning just because you’re in the first year – from day 1, you should do your readings and assignments. It’s very easy to fall behind and then the workload piles up and gets out of hand. You don’t want to get stuck too close to an exam where it’s simply unrealistic to cover all the material. Also, do practice exercises and practice exams – it will be extremely useful in preparing you for the exams. Classes get more difficult so messing up in the beginning will simply pile up the weaknesses and you’ll make it more difficult for yourself going forward.

And have fun! Join clubs, associations, take sports classes. It’s great not only because you meet people (often from other faculties) but is also a great addition to your CV.

Brenden from JMSB (Concordia):

GET INVOLVED. I hated my university life for the first 2 weeks and I had terrible grades! What saved me was getting involved, whether it’s doing cases, being on an association, or volunteering.

What advice do you wish someone had given you when you were in Cegep and planning for university?

Michael from HEC (UdM):

Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. Look for help if you don’t understand material or you are lost about something. Staying alone and hoping than somehow it will change will result into nothing.

Lubov from Desautels (McGill):

Don’t worry where you apply or what major you choose – you can change that down the road (ex: in year 2). Nothing is set in stone. People even change faculties and/or universities halfway. Everything is possible!

And don’t slack off in CEGEP!! Whether you realize this already or not, CEGEP is easier than university. So try to get the best grades possible while you can, which can help you get into the university you want and/or get a scholarship.

Brenden from JMSB (Concordia):

Again: GET INVOLVED! I cannot stress this enough. Getting involved changed my mentality of how the real world works and taught me actual business knowledge like how to network, which I firmly believe business schools in general do not stress enough.

I remember when I was in my interview for the job I’m doing now. Had a 3.5 GPA out of 4.3 GPA and I was up against people who had 4.0. I got hired over them because I was personable, knew how to hold a conversation, and had over 150 hours of volunteering under my belt + case competitions + countless experience in networking.

If you work hard and hustle better than everyone else, you can completely change your life like I have!

Last Modified: May 29, 2018