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Beyond Housing: inviting incoming first-years to learn where they live

Thursday, May 10, 2018

As the June 1 deadline draws near, thousands of prospective first-years will make the important decision to attend the University in the fall. 8 out of 10 first-years will also apply to live in residence as part of the 100 percent First Year Housing Guarantee. According to Glen Weppler, Director, Housing and Residences, the decision to live in residence is also critical. “Providing student housing is more than providing four walls and a bed. It’s about creating a living environment that complements what our students learn in the classroom. We want students to learn where they live, and we invite our staff and faculty partners to share that vision with the incoming class.”

Living on campus in first year is a no-brainer for many, but some students may still be undecided. Here are 5 reasons incoming first-years should live in residence:

  1. Boost academic performance: Research shows what Waterloo’s housing team has always believed – students who live in residence in their first year have higher GPA, are less likely to drop out or not return for the second year, and are more likely to continue to graduation than those that do not. With 13 living-learning communities in Waterloo Residences and the University Colleges delivered in partnership with faculties, onsite tutoring, and academic support, residence plays a big role in achieving students’ academic goals.
  2. Be close to everything: The stereotype is true – rolling out of bed and into class is one of the perks of living on campus. Convenience continues to be one of the strongest features of residences. For a busy first-year who’s still adjusting to life as a university student, living a few minutes away from everything – classes, food, gym, extracurricular activities, and jobs – is invaluable.
  3. Grow your (social) network: “I’ve made friends for life!” “My co-founder and I met at an event in residence.” “My parents met as undergrads in residence. This year, they will be celebrating 25 years of marriage!” Students, past and present, agree that living in residence is an incredible way to forge new relationships. While we can’t guarantee a life partner, we can guarantee plentiful interdisciplinary opportunities to meet students from other programs and develop lifelong friendships.
  4. Become a leader: Residence provides numerous opportunities for students to discover their leadership styles, take on responsibility, and in some cases, earn money while doing it. From volunteering on an Advisory Board to working as a Don or Computing Consultant in residence, students learn leadership, accountability, public speaking, and critical thinking. Residence creates a safe space to begin the leadership journey, and leaders in residence often go on to become leaders in their faculties and on campus.
  5. Build resilience: Nothing builds resilience like learning to live in close community with people of diverse backgrounds and interests, while pursuing academic and professional goals. Residence has established a supportive structure that combines one-on-one support with programs and resources delivered in partnership with several campus student services. With 350+ housing staff, including 150+ live-in positions across Waterloo Residences and the University colleges, first years in residence have every support required to thrive.

So, why do so many first years choose to live in residence? Mostly because it’s fun and a part of the traditional ‘university experience’. Living in residence promotes graduates who are well-rounded, confident, career-ready members of the global community.

So what does residence feel like?

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