It's the first week of September, meaning McMaster University is welcoming 5,400 first-year students to campus life.

Though the incoming Class of 2017 no doubt has more than a handful of shining stars in its ranks, an elite few — those who achieved perfect (or nearly perfect) averages in their final year of high school — already stand out from the pack.

CBC Hamilton interviewed two new students, asking them their secrets to success, their future aspirations, and what anxieties they have on the eve of becoming full-fledged university students.

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Emma Buller. (Supplied)

Meet Emma Buller: 100 per cent average

  • Name: Emma Buller
  • Age: 18
  • High School: Bishop Allen Academy in Toronto
  • Graduating average: 100 per cent
  • McMaster program: Engineering
  • What's your secret to success? "I think mostly time management and being disciplined and being motivated and just getting things done. And just doing your best at everything."
  • Best subjects: "Probably math is one that comes more easily to me, but I really love chemistry as well. And biology.
  • Weakest subjects: "I'm probably not going to be taking any more English courses. I enjoy the analyzing part, but the writing is so time consuming."
  • Do you have any fears about starting university? "Probably just all the regular stuff, worrying about making new friends and adjusting to university life. I think for me there's just a lot of stuff that I want to get involved in and I'm worry that I won't have time to do everything."
  • What do you do in your spare time? "Through high school, I played competitive volleyball and then I played badminton as well. I was leading a group called Locks for Hope where we were trying to encourage girls with long hair to donate some of their hair to kids who'd lost their hair to cancer. And I volunteered with the Toronto Public Library and I was involved in a science club at my school.
  • Long-term ambitions? "I'm not 100-per-cent sure, but I've always planned on doing graduate work and then maybe some research and things like that."
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Ryan Gotesman. (Supplied)

Meet Ryan Gotesman: 99.7 per cent average

  • Name: Ryan Gotesman
  • Age: 18
  • High School: William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate Institute in Toronto
  • Graduating average: 99.7 per cent
  • Program at McMaster: Health Sciences
  • What's your secret to success? "There was a combination of things. I had great teachers. I had a lot of support from my family. They, from a young age, instilled an interest in me in learning new things. And other than that, I just worked hard every day, I just focused, I knew how much time I needed to get the work done and I found a quiet place far a way from distractions."
  • Best subject: "Either chemistry or mathematics. I really enjoy how everything's based off a few simple ideas. You start with them and after you apply them, you can derive many complex, intricate properties you never imagined existed."
  • Weakest subject: "The one I found hardest last year was physics because material was challenging and covered a wide range of topics."
  • Do you have any fears about starting university? "It's going to be the first time I'll be living away from home by myself. So it'll be a new experience to try to cook my own food and do my own laundry. Also, I heard that university is much harder than high school, so I'm hoping to keep my marks high or in a similar range to where they are now."
  • What do you do in your spare time? "I like art and music, so whenever I have the chance I go to to concerts, plays, art galleries and museums. I enjoy playing basketball, badminton and soccer. And also, I do some computer programming on the side."
  • Long-term ambitions? "I hope to work in a lab doing medical research on maybe curing cancer or something revolving around stem cells or neuroscience — the cutting edge of modern biology."

These interviews have been edited for length and clarity.