Student Success Centre enhances services to emphasize academic skills development

McMaster’s Student Success Centre has expanded its services to further help students develop tools for academic success.

Recognizing that writing proficiency is an area of needed support, the centre recently launched the Undergrad Writing Centre, now in its second term. Students needing help with academic writing can book an appointment with a trained student writing tutor, free of charge.

“Our training program has been certified by the College Reading & Learning Association (CLRA) and is informed by the principles of minimalist tutoring,” says Jill McMillan, an academic skills coordinator at the SSC. “Tutors do not edit or fix papers, rather they use open-ended and Socratic questioning as well as short instructional tasks to help students gain a new perspective on their own writing.”

Faculty members who are leading writing intensive courses can also refer students to the Undergrad Writing Centre, which can support students at any stage in the writing process. “Our trained writing tutors offer a supportive, non-judgmental environment for students to receive constructive feedback from a neutral, third-party reader,” says McMillan.

The Student Success Centre’s team has also expanded its academic services for faculty to help encourage the creation of positive learning environments. Collaborations include in-course workshops and resource development.

The task of equipping students to be academically successful starts from the moment a student accepts their offer of admission. Starting in the summer, the centre offers programming to develop academic skills, both on-campus and online, to ensure students thrive.

Core to the Student Success Centre’s approach is easing the academic transition to university. “Based on my experience in a secondary school classroom, I recognize the skills gap that exists between secondary and post-secondary education,” says Jenna Storey, an academic skills program coordinator at the centre. “That first taste of independence can bring a lot of challenges for students and often a much larger workload than previously experienced.”

And it’s not just first-year students who benefit from working to improve their academic skills – workshops, coaching and academic events are available throughout the school year for all students. For instance, workshops on exam preparation and time management are offered at key points during the academic year.

All services are informed by evidence-based feedback, such as from student surveys or from the University Benchmarking Survey.

The centre also welcomes new opportunities for collaboration. The McMaster community shares a common objective to support student success, of which academics is a major component. Faculty or staff interested in learning more can contact the centre’s academic skills program coordinators, Jenna Storey ( or Jill McMillan (

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