posted on Feb. 9: Mac IQ has arrivedand no, it’s not a test!


Mac IQ has arrived! And while it may sound like an intelligence test for getting into the University, we assure you it's not! It's a new tool that will help prospective students find out more about McMaster, and even open doors for them before they step foot on campus.

The acronym stands for McMaster Interactive Questions, a new Web site for prospective students created by the Student Liaison Office and launched this week. The site, located at, is the first of its nature to be launched by a university in Canada.

It's designed to provide Canadian high school students with some quick answers to common and frequently asked questions, such as: What are the admission requirements for (enter program name)? What programs are available in social sciences? What kinds of sports does the university have? How much does it cost to live in residence? Can I take a tour of the University?

“We haven't created another FAQ page with this,” says Trish Sullivan, liaison officer, Office of the Registrar. “People will be able to type in their own questions, in their own words, on a number of topics and receive personal, real-time and virtually instant answers.”

Sullivan says the site is being launched at a time when prospective students are asking questions and seeking answers. Answers to about 250 regularly asked questions are currently contained in the searchable database and the information vault can be easily modified and expanded to accommodate new and additional information.

Replies will include best responses to questions, provide links to other campus Web sites (which can best provide departmental or area-specific answers), suggest other references on campus and include related questions that can be asked to find additional information. Much of the information contained in the database has been drawn from university publications and from information the liaison office currently provides to students, says Sullivan.

If Mac IQ can't answer the question immediately, inquirers have the option of submitting their question for a personalized response, which will be answered by liaison staff within three-to-five business days, or redirected to the appropriate area.

“We receive an overwhelming number of requests daily from prospective students for information about McMaster and we expect that number will continue to increase as our enrolment grows,” says University registrar George Granger. “This is one tool that will enable us to improve service to high school students and prospective applicants, and also manage the growing demand for information. We've gone way beyond the capacity of staffing to answer all the e-mails we currently get.”

The University collaborated with Comtext of Waterloo (the creators of the University's Virtual Tour Web site) to build the site. Comtext is now working with two other universities on similar sites, but McMaster is the first to go live.

Sullivan and Gerry Karlovic, computer systems manager for the registrar's office, have spent a good part of the last year working on the project with Jim Craig of Comtext's IntelliResponse division. Craig says McMaster was one of several institutions the company approached to do a Beta test on a system they were developing to better manage e-mails. McMaster was first to get involved in the project.

While the new McMaster site has been built to serve prospective Canadian high school applicants, Sullivan says it could be expanded in future to meet other user/audience needs.

The site is being promoted extensively across the province. Liaison has printed some 20,000 Mac IQ informational flyers, which will be included in admissions packages mailed to Ontario high school applicants. The flyers are also being sent to all Ontario high schools for distribution.