Exploring Waterloo

Summer Experience for 15 to 17 year olds

The Exploring Waterloo Summer Experience program has been developed with a strong focus on highlighting Waterloo’s innovative spirit through an interdisciplinary and experiential teaching approach in an effort to equip high school students with the skills and knowledge needed to help address some of the world’s most challenging problems. This 3-week program will introduce high school students to a variety of University of Waterloo’s areas of study and world-renowned facilities. Students will gain an understanding of the North American learning model in an effort to improve their comfort level and knowledge of the academic environment in western post-secondary institutions.

Who is the program designed for? (Exploring Waterloo)

Exploring Waterloo is designed for individuals who are:

  • 15 - 17 years of age
  • looking to explore innovation at the University of Waterloo
  • interested in learning about Canadian culture and the Canadian university environment

Program features (Exploring Waterloo)

  • 25 hours of programming each week
  • Interdisciplinary & Experiential teaching
  • Exposure to a variety of areas of study and research at Waterloo
  • Immersion Experience:
    • Interactive Canadian enrichment activities and excursions
    • On-campus university residence accommodation (double occupancy room OR 2 students per room) including all-inclusive meal plan
    • Airport transportation
    • End of program achievement report and certificate

The Exploring Waterloo program is recommended for students at a CEFR B2 level or above. Lecture content will not be modified to accommodate students with a lower level of English language proficiency. 

For an idea of your level, you can complete the following free online test: https://www.oxfordonlineenglish.com/english-level-test.

What makes the program unique? (Exploring Waterloo)

As an Exploring Waterloo student, you will have a unique learning experience including exposure to the research being conducted at the University of Waterloo. You will attend lectures delivered by inspiring Waterloo instructors to gain a better understanding of how research within each field is actualized in the real-world. This will provide you unique insight into possible career paths within these disciplines as well as exposure to design thinking and the innovation process.

You will also have the opportunity to enhance your experience by visiting some of Canada’s most popular attractions and tourist sites, and participating in a variety of events planned and attended by your peer leaders; a fantastic opportunity to gain invaluable social skills and have fun!

What will you learn? (Exploring Waterloo)

Learning in the disciplines

Academic lectures, delivered by inspiring Waterloo instructors, provide students with a better understanding of how research within each field is actualized in real-world applications. Students will also gain a better insight into possible career paths within each discipline.

Building skills for academic success

These sessions support research-informed approaches to problem-solving by building teamwork and leadership skills as well as active critical engagement with issues of global importance. Students will work collaboratively to innovate a solution or mitigation strategies, culminating in a capstone project presentation that brings together learnings from each of the program components.

Exploring innovation

These interactive sessions expose students to design thinking and the innovation process. Students see first-hand the innovative and entrepreneurial atmosphere of the Waterloo community through visits to design teams, social impact and start-up incubators.

Developing social connections

By living in residence and experiencing all that is associated with an on-campus living experience, students develop deeper social ties with their peers who are also experiencing a new cultural environment. Friendships are further developed as students participate in the many on-campus activities and excursions to important landmarks and Canadian cultural sites located in southern Ontario.

Sample class schedule (Exploring Waterloo)







9:00– 11:30 AM

Building Skills for Academic Success:

Working in Teams

Exploring Innovation:

Design Thinking in Engineering

Learning in the Disciplines:

Faculty of Science - Lecture

Building Skills for Academic Success:

Developing Intercultural Communication Strategies

Learning in the Disciplines:

The Future is Quantum – Institute for Quantum Computing Presentation

LUNCH 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM

1:00 PM – 3:30 PM

Learning in the Disciplines:

Faculty of Environment - Lecture

Building Skills for Academic Success:

Identifying Problems

Building Skills for Academic Success:

Developing Research Skills

Exploring Innovation:

 ‘Greenhouse’ – Social Impact Incubator

Building Skills for Academic Success:

Applying Critical Thinking Skills –  Evaluating Solutions

NOTE: the schedule above is provided as a sample and is subject to change.

Student Experience (Exploring Waterloo)

Our Student Experience team is here to help you reach your goals and to ensure you have an enriching learning experience in Exploring Waterloo. Below you will see a sample activities calendar for the program.

exploring waterloo sample calendar

Residence (Exploring Waterloo)

Our residences are centrally located on the University of Waterloo campus and fill up quickly. The campus is home to Canadian students 12 months of the year. Renison is known for its small, family-like community of students and faculty, making it an ideal place for international students to learn English.

NOTE: students in Exploring Waterloo will have double room accommodation.

On-campus residence

  • Two-minute walk to the major student hubs on campus (e.g. Student Life Centre and Physical Activities Complex)
  • Upper-year student leaders on each floor to help international students learn about life in Canada
  • Organized activities available
  • Wellness programming available exclusively to students living or studying at Renison

Food in residence

  • Fill your plate up to six times per day at our cafeteria (your meal plan is included if you live in residence)
  • Acknowledging the diverse student population at Renison, our food services team prides itself in offering a wide variety of cuisine from around the world, accommodating a host of dietary restrictions and allergies, and ensuring students have food options that feel like home
  • “My Pantry” is a separate kitchen for residents who want to create their own culinary masterpieces. Ingredients are fully stocked by our cafeteria


The University of Waterloo has a health care clinic on campus just two minutes from Renison. Health Services provides convenient, confidential and comprehensive medical care that is included as part of your fees.

Dates, fees, and application process (Exploring Waterloo)

 Dates and fees

Exploring Waterloo session

Dates Program fees Notes

July 2024

July 3 - July 23, 2024

$5000 CAD

Registration open

NOTE: Fees are listed in Canadian dollars (CAD) and are subject to change at any time.

NOTE: Students are expected to arrange their flights for arrival in Toronto (YYZ Airport) on July 2, 2024 and departure from Toronto (YYZ Airport) on July 24, 2024.

Program fees include the non-refundable application fee, tuition and incidental fees, airport transfer, mandatory health insurance, residence accommodation (including meal plan), social activities, and excursions.

University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP) coverage must be purchased regardless of medical coverage from your home country. Dependents (spouse and/or children) must also be enrolled in UHIP upon arrival in Canada for an additional cost. UHIP fees are subject to change September 1 each year. Renison ELI staff will assist with your enrolment.

Not included in program fees: travel costs.

Registration process

The Exploring Waterloo program is available for group registration only. A chaperone is required for all student groups.

Don't already belong to a student group? We are happy to help you find a registrant group. For more information, please contact Renison English Language Institute.

NOTE: Chaperones will provide support to students upon arrival in Canada and during their study at Renison University College, but not during their travel to and from their home country and Canada.