Academic wellness

You've got this!

Even if you are an accomplished learner, challenges may arise that prevent you from achieving your normal level of academic success. Below is some guidance to help you address difficulties or unforeseen circumstances, and proactively protect your academic wellness.

Talk to your instructor

If you are experiencing academic difficulties, discuss them with your professor as soon as possible. They may be able to provide you with: 

  • additional resources; 
  • assistance to provide further clarity on the course material; or 
  • in cases of an extenuating situation, offer you accommodations for the completion of your course work (see self-declared or documented absence(s) section below). 

Visit your undergraduate advisor or associate chair/director of undergraduate studies

To discuss:

  • potentially dropping a course;
  • how to Petition for Exception to Academic Regulations in instances for which an extenuating circumstance is present or has occurred;
  • completion of degree requirements; or
  • campus resources that are available to you.

Writing and Communication Centre (WCC)

The Writing and Communication Centre works with students in all departments and faculties to help you consider your audience, clarify your ideas, and present or write in the style appropriate to your field and context.

We provide individual feedback and guidance when you are drafting papers, reports, proposals, presentations, podcasts, and more. Group appointments for team-based projects and presentations are also available. We can support you with brainstorming, drafting, integrating research, citing sources, and revising for clarity and coherence. We do not correct or change your work for you, but we will help you strengthen your communication on all levels.

Services are available both in-person and virtually: pre-booked appointments, drop-ins, email tutoring, workshops, resources, and writing groups. Visit us at or drop by our writing space in 219 South Campus Hall.

Voluntary withdrawals

You may voluntarily withdraw from your plan of study (potentially with a tuition refund), provided the appropriate Notice of Withdrawal Form is received by The Centre (first floor of Needles Hall) by the published drop dates.

See the calendar of Important Dates for more information regarding full term withdrawal and course drop deadlines.

Know important policies

Student Petitions and Grievances (Policy 70)

A petition is a request by a student seeking exception to or relief from normal faculty or university rules and regulations. Typical examples include, but are not limited to, adding or dropping a course after the deadline, removing a Withdrew (WD) or Withdrew/Failure (WF) grade, increased or reduced course load and reconsideration of an end-of-term academic standing decision.

Grievances are initiated by students if they believe either the grade received for coursework is unreasonable, or an error in academic judgment or procedure has occurred. There are strict timelines for filing a grievance as outlined in Policy 70 and the ENV calendar section.

Student Discipline (Policy 71)

At the University of Waterloo academic integrity, such as plagiarism, and non-academic violations, such as disruptive behaviour, are governed by Policy 71

Teaching or course concerns

On occasion, you may find that some aspect of a course is unsatisfactory. If so, your first step is to discuss your concerns with the instructor, either individually or with a group of your classmates. After meeting with the instructor, if you believe that further action is required, contact either the chair/director of the department/school which is administering the course or the associate dean of undergraduate studies for the faculty in which the course is offered.

Student Success Office

The Student Success Office (SSO) is here to help all students succeed. They offer a number of workshops on topics including study skills, writing skills and research skills. Or, you can schedule an appointment with a Peer Success Coach.

AccessAbility Services

AccessAbility services assists students who require academic accommodations for permanent, temporary, suspected disabilities, disabling conditions, and/or trauma. It is imperative that students requiring academic accommodations register with the AccessAbility Services by applying online. AccessAbility Services work with students to develop an individualized accommodation plan, which is communicated to instructors through a safe, secure, and confidential process.

Links Who to contact

About AccessAbility Services

AccessAbility course in LEARN (build your skills and learning strategies)


519-888-4567, ext. 45231

Campus Wellness

Health Services

Health Services provides healthcare to University of Waterloo students. They have office hours from Monday to Friday. There are also a number of after-hours clinics in the area.

Counselling Services

University can be a rewarding and challenging environment. Counselling Services offers many support resources for students, such as coping skills seminars and workshops about managing obstacles. There are also therapy groups, peer support options, and opportunities to connect with a clinician. For Counselling Services' hours of operation, see Campus Wellness hours.

All information you share with your counsellor will be held in the strictest confidence, with the only exceptions being those required by law. Learn more about personal health information and privacy at Counselling Services.

Self-declared or documented absences

If you require accommodation from your instructor(s) for the completion of course work, including final exams, due to an absence, your absence must first be reported using one of the following methods. 

Self-declaration of absence on Quest 

There are two options for self-declaring an absence on Quest.  

  1. Self-declaration of a short-term absence (maximum two days) during the term only (excluding the final exam period)
  2. Self-declaration of absence due Covid (maximum of ten days)

Documented absences

To report an absence due to illness (that is not being self-declared), bereavement, or any other extenuating circumstance - complete the form, including uploading all documentation, through the VIF System. Supporting documentation can include, but is not limited to: a verification of illness form, counsellor note, death certificate, police report, etc. Supporting documentation must be provided by a professional and/or be verifiable. 

Student’s responsibilities when uploading supporting documentation for an absence: 

  • Paper copies of documentation will not be accepted unless requested (see next bullet); submission must be electronic using the VIF System form only. Documentation should not be submitted to advisors, instructors, TAs, lab instructors, etc.
  • Students are responsible for keeping the original copy of the documentation which may be needed if:
    • the uploaded copy is not legible or is deemed suspicious; or
    • there is a need to petition.

Important notes

  • The submission of fraudulent or falsified documentation or document misrepresentation is a serious offense, punishable under Policy 71: Student Discipline
  • It is the student’s responsibility to contact the instructor to discuss accommodation for missed course components. Instructors will receive a notice when the absence has been verified (normal turn-around time 24-48 business hours).
  • Instructors maintain agency over decisions regarding accommodations for missed course components.  
  • Faculty of Environment student absences, whether self-declared or through submitted documentation, will be tracked.
  • Scanned documentation submitted through the VIF system will be disposed of in accordance with our record retention schedule. 

See the Exams and Grades page for accommodations during the examination period. Documented absences during the final exam period, are required to be submitted to the VIF system within the permitted 48 hour window.

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