Everything you need to prepare for Fall courses

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A message from Campus Life & Engagement, the one office dedicated to new McGill students. 


Dear Campus Life & Engage,


Now that your first semester at McGill is quickly approaching, it's time to prepare for your Fall courses. A "What's New" email was sent to your McGill email yesterday on remote learning. What's New is the official McGill weekly e-newsletter. Keep an eye out for more communications targeted towards the general McGill population for important information on the Fall 2020 semester.


We've put together the McGill resources that you will need to get familiar with your daily academic life, adapt to remote learning, and get ready for the start of class.



Important Dates & Deadlines


Tuition payment - August 31, 2020 (register for at least ONE course by August 14 to avoid registration penalties)

Add/Drop Deadline - September 15, 2020

Course Withdrawal Deadline - September 22, 2020 (with refund), October 27, 2020 (without refund)

Fall ExamsDecember 8-22, 2020


Student IDs

Your McGill ID will be your key on campus to unlock everything your need to succeed and thrive—from accessing your meal plan, printing, building access, and more. To get your McGill ID, you must book an appointment with Service Point starting August 24.


Please check this link for updated information.



Navigating Your Courses

These three tools are crucial to your academic success at McGill! Make sure to check them out daily when classes begin as course updates from your instructors, assignments, grades, and other important information will be communicated through these channels.

  • Minerva: Access your weekly course schedule, register for courses, check your e-bill, verify your transcript and more. If it’s an official document from McGill, it’ll likely be found on Minerva.
  • myCourses: Access all of your courses and coursework, including your course syllabi, homework, readings, quizzes, and discussion boards. You may also have to submit your coursework on myCourses.
  • McGill Email: Your primary mode of communication between professors, teaching assistants (TAs), and McGill's administrative staff. It is the University's only official means of communication with you so be sure to check it regularly.

Course Materials

The course syllabi you will receive from your professor during your first day of classes will list the books and materials needed for each course, as well as where to get them, regardless of your physical location. Most materials will be provided electronically, and may include:

  • Books (non-fiction books, fiction novels, etc.)
  • Course packs (printed collections of essays, articles, excerpts, etc. assembled by the professor)
  • Films (available through the library, MyCourses, or a class film screening)
  • Textbooks (make sure to purchase the correct edition!)

Whether you are in Montreal or not, you access the LE James bookstore; contact them directly for up-to-date information on shipping and online orders.


You can save money on books, textbooks, course packs, and other course materials by buying them second-hand from other students.

  • If you are in Montreal, the SSMU Marketplace has used textbooks for sale, or you can post your own ads for books that you are finished using.
  • If you are not in Montreal, be sure to check out Facebook groups from nearby universities or colleges, as well as your local used bookstores.

REMINDER: It is best to purchase your books, materials, and non-refundable course packs after classes start.



What's What


By now, you might have noticed that there is a lot of terminology used specifically at McGill. Here’s a quick list of the basics. Again, if you have any questions about student life at McGill at anytime, reach out to firstyear@mcgill.ca!

  • Academic Advisor – are available for your faculty, as well as your department and program. They’re useful resources to make sure you’re on track to graduate and fulfill your academic requirements. Find your academic advisor using the Advisor Directory.
  • Add/Drop – a two-week period during the beginning of each semester where you can freely add and drop courses without penalty. There won't be any assignments due or test/quizzes/midterms scheduled during this period. 
  • COMunity – is a program that strives to create a sense of support and belonging for off-campus and commuter students through events and resources. To learn more about COMunity, visit this website.
  • Conferences and Tutorials - a type of class where you’ll meet in smaller group sessions and are expected to participate in discussions and ask questions, and for which you might have assignments. Tutorials are usually associated with other classes for the course, called lectures. They also start after the add/drop period.
  • Floor Fellows - are upper-year students who live in residence and are there to help you with your first-year transition, as well as organize events for your building and create community.
  • Labs - a type of class usually held in rooms with special facilities, or using special remote-access tools or programs, where you’re typically guided by a lab instructor. For an example of what hands-on learning will look like at McGill this fall, take a look at this video. Labs start after the add/drop period.
  • Lectures - the most common type of class where the professor shares their expertise with you and your classmates.
  • OneCard – this is the payment account attached to your student ID and can be used as a method of payment for food, grant you building access, use laundry services, and check out materials from the library.
  • Macdonald Campus Students’ Society (MCSS) - is the student union that represents the interests of all undergraduate students at the Macdonald campus.
  • Midterms – beginning after add/drop, there is no defined midterm examination period at McGill.
  • Residence Life – facilitated by upper-year students, these are year-round events that help first year students in residence adjust to their surroundings in a fun and interactive way.
  • Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) – is the student union that represents the interests of all undergraduate students at the Downtown campus.
  • Teaching Assistant (TA) - an upper-year or graduate student who works closely with your professor to help teach your course. A TA may mark essays or tests or teach a tutorial.

Navigating Campus



Because in-person campus tours have been suspended due to public health restrictions, we can bring campus to YOU. Register for Live with a Tour Guide, a live broadcast hosted by a current McGill students that will inform you about our buildings, life in residence, student services, library resources, clubs and societies, and more.


Online Resources

  • Curious about where to find a building? Check out the interactive McGill Campus Map.
  • As you prepare to come to Montreal, whether that will be in September or later on in the academic year, you might want to learn more about McGill and its surroundings, including places to eat on and off campus, housing, attractions, and more. The McGill Virtual Campus Tour, which covers both the Downtown and Macdonald campuses, will help you find what you need.



CL&E to Success: Showcasing McGill's Services is a series of short, interview-style videos that introduces you to all the wonderful support and resources available to you as a new student. The title functions as a play on words with the French “clé” for key. We will be releasing videos every day over the next few weeks! Watch here.



You can find out more about what to expect from your first year at McGill on our First-Year website or by contacting firstyear@mcgill.ca. If we don't know the answer to your question, we know who will!




Gilbert Lin

Manager, Orientation & Student Engagement, Campus Life & Engagement | McGill Student Services


If you think you’ve missed any of our messages or want to re-read any, check out CL&E’s First-Year Email archive.




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