Parents & Supporters

Two students helping a student and their supporter.

Helping your student choose their home away from home is an important decision and we are here to make it easy. Welcome to Campus Housing!

We know that your priority is to set your student up for a successful transition to university life. We also know that leaving home is both exciting and challenging for most students. Residence is a supportive and enriching environment designed to build your student’s confidence, facilitate lifelong friendships and increase their likelihood of achieving academic success over the next four years. 

Your role as parent and supporter may be changing, but you are still one of the most important people to help your student navigate first year successfully. This guide contains everything you need to help your student have the best residence experience. If you have any questions at any point, we will be glad to help. 

From all of us at Campus Housing, welcome. Our home is your home. 

Why your student should live in residence 

If you are wondering whether residence is worth the emotional and financial investment, consider this: 

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Students get better grades

Studies have shown that students who live in residence have a higher GPA than those that live off-campus. With better access to on-campus services, professors' office hours, and study space, students living in residence have a better academic outcome. This is especially true for international students new to Canada.

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Students are more likely to graduate

In a study conducted over five institutions, students who lived on campus in first year showed a better chance of retention not only into the second year, but into graduation. It's never too early to imagine your student receiving their diploma.

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Students develop self-management and leadership skills

Living in residence gives your student a sense of independence and room to grow. Your student will learn or improve their ability to set and keep to a schedule, do laundry, and clean their space. If they live in a suite-style residence, they will also learn to shop for groceries, develop cooking skills, and manage a budget.

Many students also take advantage of the job and leadership opportunities available in residence, which allows them to develop professional skills that will serve them well in their future career.

Exploring these skills with the guidance of an upper-year residence Don gives your student the chance to experience independence while still maintaining a safety net.

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Students develop better social skills

Residence is full of new people and new experiences. Whether your student is shy or outgoing, Dons and residence life staff can guide them in activities that help them meet other students. Surrounded by peers from a wide range of faculties, backgrounds and cultures, there are plenty of opportunities to make life-long friends, meet study partners, and learn to effectively interact with different kinds of people. With lots of support in conflict resolution, your student can also confidently navigate difficult social interactions.

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Students develop resilience

Students in residence are surrounded by staff and peers who are rooting for their success. We give them the tools and support systems to achieve their every day and long-term goals. When things don't go quite as planned, there are people and resources close by to remind your student of their goals and encourage them to keep moving forward. By the end of their time at Waterloo, your student will have persevered through challenges and be better prepared for the world outside campus.

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Students are closer to everything

University is about more than just classes. Living on campus provides your student with fun, safe, and constructive downtime options. They will be close to student clubs, jobs and leadership activities, on-campus entertainment, and state-of-the-art sports and recreation facilities. Waterloo has a large, beautiful campus, and living in residence gives your student more opportunities to take advantage of everything it has to offer.

Tips for supporting your student’s new life

The coming year is not just your student’s first year at university – it may be yours too! This is likely the first time your student is living away from home and you may be wondering how to balance wanting to know every exciting detail with giving them some freedom. We’ve put together 8 tips to have a successful first year as a parent of a Campus Housing resident.

It's okay to keep in touch

Even though they've moved away from home, your student still wants and needs to hear from you. Texting, calling, and sending care packages are all encouraged and will even help to make the transition easier.

... but don't crowd your student's newfound independence

On average first-year students spend 15 hours a week learning from instructors, and another 30 hours a week studying outside of classroom time. Add in extra-curricular activities and maybe a campus job, and your student will be busy! Don't be too surprised or disappointed if your student doesn't call you as often as you're used to. A little breathing room can help them find a rhythm that works for both of you.

Make sure to get involved on campus ...

Waterloo has great opportunities for you to visit and participate in activities. From football games to theatre, there are many activities you can enjoy when you visit. See campus through your student's eyes as you visit their favourite spots. The Student Success Office sends a monthly Parents Supporters newsletter sign up to find out what's happening around your student each month.

... and off!

With great restaurants, beautiful parks, and modern museums, Waterloo is a great city to study in. Help your student discover the city by spending some quality time at these great spots when you visit.

Keep a list of campus contacts handy

The Parents and Supporters Toolbox contains a list of resources for everything from learning how to write a better essay and academic tutoring, to career counselling and wellness support. Waterloo is invested in the health, well-being, and continued success of your student. Keep the toolbox close and use it as a reference to help your student find the help they need when they need it. Empower your student to use the available resources instead of reaching out for them this helps students learn how to seek out help and cope in difficult times.

Be prepared to offer extra support!

The call will come. It might come after a disappointing test mark, or the first night your student misses home; but when it does, your student will need your support, understanding and reassurance. Be comforting and encourage your student to utilize the available resources in residence and on campus.

Encourage your student to stay safe

Letting go is part of growing up, but there will always be a need for you to watch out for your student's safety, especially in a pandemic. Treat them like an adult by ensuring you sit down with them and have a calm, serious talk about following safety measures, alcohol and substance use. Let them know some good options for seeking help if they are in trouble, and make yourself a safe resource for them to confide in. Students who are confident and better informed will make better choices.

Don't focus on only grades

Your student's average will drop. Even top high school students see their average go down in their first year at university. Courses are harder, workloads are heavier, and expectations are higher. Grades are not given as frequently, and your student may not have the type of report card update you're used to until after Thanksgiving. Instead of focusing solely on grades, help your student to identify several metrics for success and develop a holistic view of their achievements.

Important links

Application process

Applying for residence as a first year is simple. Fill out a few online forms and receive your contract by email.


Living in residence is an investment in your student's academic success. Find out how much residence and meal plans are.

Important Dates

Want to know when your student should expect a residence contract? This page has all the important dates in one place.

Student Wellness

Nothing is more important than your student's safety and wellbeing in residence. Learn more about what resources available and measures in place to support your student's residence experience.

Food Services

Have specific questions about menus, hours of operation and meal plans? Food Services manages all eateries in residence.

Contact information

Want to contact Campus Housing? Visit our contact page with all important contact details and hours of operation.

What to pack

Wondering what your student should bring to residence? Visit our helpful online checklist before you pack!

Move-in information

To ensure a smooth move-in experience, we invite you to learn more about the move-in process.

W Store

Your one-stop shop for course materials, school supplies, Waterloo gear, dorm room essentials and more! Check them out in South Campus Hall or shop online