Have you heard of the Bridge to Academic Success in English (BASE) program?

Group students taking a photo together

Naomi Written by Naomi (she/her), student

Are you concerned you might not meet our English language requirements? The Bride to Academic Success in English program might be for you.

There are certain requirements that you have to meet to get into university. If your first language is not English and you haven't studied in an English language school system for the last four years, you have to meet English language requirements on top of the academic requirements for your program. Let's say you're not so sure you’ll meet the English language requirements, or you already know that you haven’t — don’t give up! You could receive an offer into the Bridge to Academic Success in English (BASE) program.

What is BASE?

BASE is a four- or eight-month program that allows you to improve your English reading, writing, and speaking skills in a university setting, while earning credit towards your University of Waterloo degree. There’s also iBASE, a 7-week intensive BASE program that takes place before your first year begins, in July and August. Whether you’re admitted into the shorter or longer program, BASE is an opportunity to strengthen your English language skills before starting university, which increases your future academic and career successes. It’s also a way to guarantee a smooth transition to full-time university studies in Canada, making your time at Waterloo more enjoyable.

Three students smiling and interacting with each other

How does BASE work?

So, what exactly does four or eight months with BASE look like? Being offered a spot in the BASE program works as a conditional offer of admission into Waterloo; once you’ve successfully completed BASE, you’ll be able to continue your full-time university studies at Waterloo. An offer to BASE places you in the program that’s right for you based on your English language test results, which means your time in the program is tailored to your specific skill set. Once you’re in the program, you’ll be improving your English language skills while taking one or two credit courses — depending on your faculty — so that you begin earning your Waterloo degree right away. Plus, the cost of BASE is only a fraction of your tuition, and you get so much out of it.

Romina, an international student from Ecuador in Global Business and Digital Arts, was part of the BASE program for two terms before starting their undergraduate program. "My experience with the BASE program was great because it not only helped me improve my English, but also made me feel more comfortable and confident when communicating with someone, or just going to class", says Romina.

Oh, and you’ll be staying on campus! With BASE, you get to move into one of Waterloo’s residences, where you can live among other international and Canadian students and become part of the student community.

I know most people can be hesitant about BASE because it means extra terms, but it significantly helps you practice and improve your English, while also gaining other skills that will help you thrive in your university and personal life.

Romina, Global Business and Digital Arts student

Hear from previous students who talk about all the ways BASE prepared them to thrive in their programs and how it positively impacted their academic experiences.

Why should I do BASE?

Transition into your degree

Most importantly, BASE is a stepping stone to allowing you to come to Waterloo and complete your degree. Aside from the English language skills you learn, which are incredibly important, you also develop other academic skills, like learning how to write lab reports and literature reviews. The class that you take while you’re in BASE also helps you get used to university in Canada, and, depending on your major, can range from labs to regular lectures. You’ll even be accompanied to your class by someone from BASE, to make sure everything goes smoothly and that you’re personally supported every step of the way.

Group of students smiling together around a table

Grant Leach, the Director of Marketing and Recruitment at Waterloo’s Renison University College, says "students who have gone through BASE are stronger academically than those who have immediately transitioned into their academic studies". BASE provides you with familiarity in your studies, and all the academic skills you gain are paired with a supportive network and a great student life experience.

Adjust to student life in Canada

BASE sets you up to be successful, in more ways than one. A huge perk of the program is that it lets you slowly adjust to the student life in Waterloo. It’s a great way to get used to the study pace, campus, and school environment, especially since you’ll be living on campus! You focus on career-building opportunities too, like developing leadership skills, volunteering, making résumés and cover letters, and perfecting your interview skills. It’s a great way to explore the school you’ll be attending for the next four years, while strengthening a lot of other useful abilities that will help you be successful in university in Canada.

I am so glad I did the BASE program because it allowed me to get used to the new culture, the language, and most importantly, it helped me get ready for university life.

Romina, Global Business and Digital Arts student

Become part of a great community

School is about more than just the academics — it’s about the community, too! This can start before you even arrive to Canada; the BASE student experience teams create texting communities on KakaoTalk, WeChat, LINE, WhatsApp, and more, so you can get to know the students you’ll be learning with. When you arrive, you’ll get to meet your peers in person and move in with them! There’s an exclusive Living Learning Community for BASE students at Renison residence, which means that there are special resources and events just for the BASE community! It also means that you’ll be living in a tight-knit area with all your BASE classmates and friends. You’ll be supported by an amazing and diverse network of people, and it’s the perfect time to make long-lasting connections with students around you who might also be coming to Canada for the first time.

My experience in Renison exceeded my expectations. I met life-long friends who I still keep in touch and hangout with. Also, it equipped me better for university. Living in Renison during the iBASE program elevated my experience. I got to spend lots of time with my friends and get closer to the Waterloo community.

Rebecca, Recreation and Sports Business alumni

Plus, your support network includes former BASE students who come back as volunteers to help you transition to Waterloo as smoothly as they did! Once you complete BASE, you’ll have the opportunity to come back as well, and help plan events for the campus community and contribute to the memorable student experience at Waterloo.

"The BASE program has a great social side. Apart from connecting with your classmates that come from different parts of the world, you could also get involved in many of the social events and programs that Renison had. There was always something going on, whether it was a trip to Niagara Falls, movie nights, or info sessions, you would be able to really engage on campus and have a lot of fun", says Romina.

Many students who have taken BASE have had positive experiences with the program. You’ll learn important academic and career skills and have memorable experiences with your classmates and friends. If you’re admitted into BASE, it’s worth investing in yourself and your future successes!

Don't take our word for it — these BASE students share their invaluable adjustments to Canadian life and their amazing community experiences.


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