Welcome to Waterloo Residences, the best choice for your child’s home away from home.
Life in residence is a rewarding experience that will build your student’s confidence, strengthen relationships and set them up for a greater chance at academic success over the next four years.
While your UWaterloo student heads out on their new adventure, this guide is here to help you, because we understand that this is year is as much about supporting you as it is about supporting your student. Explore, learn, and feel free to ask us any questions you may have.
From all of us at Waterloo Residences to you we’d like to say, welcome home.
10 reasons for your student to live in residence
Living on-campus exposes you to an experience that produces real benefits in your first year and beyond. Read on for the reasons you and your student should consider residence life:
Students are more comfortable with campus
UWaterloo has a large, beautiful campus and living in residence gives your student more opportunities to explore and take advantage of everything it has to offer while they live and learn! This will give them an increased sense of security and comfort with their surroundings.
Puts students in the centre of the action!
University is about more than just classes. Living on campus allows your student to be close to student clubs and activities, on-campus entertainment, and state-of-the-art sports and recreation facilities, including football and hockey games, providing them with safe, constructive, school-sponsored options for their downtime.
Development of personal skills
Living in residence gives your child a sense of independence and room to grow.
Your child will learn or improve their ability to set and keep their own schedule, and do laundry, light cleaning and other household activities. If they live in a suite-style residence, they will also learn to shop for groceries, develop cooking skills, and manage a budget.
Having the chance to explore these skills with the guidance of a residence Don gives your child the chance to experience this kind of independence while still maintaining a bit of a safety net.
Development of social skills
Residence is full of new friends and new experiences. Residence advisors can guide your shy or outgoing student equally in activities with their fellow dorm-mates. Surrounded by roommates, there are plenty of opportunities to make life-long friends, meet study partners, and learn to effectively interact with different kinds of people.
With residence advisors on hand to help guide students in conflict resolution, students never have to be afraid to learn to navigate difficult social interactions, as well as fun ones.
Exposes students to different cultures
The University of Waterloo is proud to host students with a wide range of backgrounds. About eight percent of students living in residence are from a country other than Canada, making UWaterloo residences a great place to meet people from around the globe and learn about different cultures.
More access to professors and staff
Living on campus gives students a better opportunity to get to know their professors by making it easy to take advantage of office hours, time available before and after class, and faculty events.
More access to on-campus services
From two state-of-the-art libraries to the writing centre and the student success office, UWaterloo offers great on-campus services to help your student study more effectively, learn to write the perfect paper, and navigate any academic problem.
Creates higher self-esteem
Students are given the tools and support systems to accomplish both big and little tasks, managing their every day and long-term goals, to create an environment that sets them up for success.
Students get better grades
Studies have shown that residence has a positive effect on the GPA of first-year students compared with those that live off-campus. With better access to on-campus services, professors, and study space, students living in residence have a better academic outcome.
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.
10 tips for parents and family members
The coming year will be full new and exciting experiences, but it’s not just your student’s first year at university – it’s yours too! Whether you’ve been to a post-secondary institution before or this is your first time on a university campus, this year will be.
It's okay to keep in touch!
Even though they’ve moved away from home, your child is still family and wants 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 new found independence
Your student will be busy! On average first-year students spend 15 hours a week in class, and another 30 hours a week studying outside of the classroom. With all this activity and newfound independence your student may not call you as often as you’re used to and that’s okay. A little breathing room will help them grow.
Make sure to get involved in activities on campus ...
UWaterloo has great opportunities for parents to visit and participate in activities. From football games to theatre, there are many activities you can enjoy when you visit. Ask your child to take you on a tour of the campus and show you their favourite spots!
... and off!
With great restaurants, beautiful parks, and modern museums, Waterloo is a great place to go to school. Help your student discover the city by spending some quality time at these great spots when you visit.
Be prepared to offer extra support!
The call will come. It might come after a disappointing test mark, or the first night your child misses home, but when it does your student will need your support, understanding and reassurance. Be comforting and encourage your student to stick to their plan.
Keep a list of campus contacts handy
With a list of resources for everything from learning how to write a better essay, to counselling and student success support, Uwaterloo is invested in the health, well-being, and continued success of your child. Keep a list of phone numbers, emails, and websites handy to help your student find the help they need, when they need it.
When they come home to visit, be understanding about space
When they left home, your child might have had a curfew, or you were used to asking them who they were seeing and where they were going. After spending a few weeks or months living in residence, many students will be resistant to returning to these rules when they visit home. Giving your emerging adult more space may be unfamiliar to you, but it’s all a part of growing. And your student will appreciate it!
Make room for your child's new friends
One of the joys of living in residence is the opportunity to meet all kinds of new friends! In classes, activities, or in residence your child will be meeting tons of new people every day. Including their new friends in conversations and visits will help you to stay tied to their new life and will make them feel connected to their old one.
Encourage your child to stay safe
Letting go is part of growing up, but there will always be a need for you to watch out for your child’s safety. Treat them like an adult by ensuring you sit down with them and have a calm, serious talk about 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 grades too much
Your child’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 child may not have the type of report card update you’re used to until after Thanksgiving. Instead of focusing on grades, help your child identify other metrics for success and focus on those.
Services available to your student
Small groups of students in the same faculty or program who live together in the same area of residence are part of a program called living-learning communities. Each group has an upper-year peer leader to mentor and support first-year students’ academic goals, giving them greater access to their faculty and programming to help them be successful.
Academics in Residence
Along with quiet hours and silent study spaces, residence features drop-in tutoring for those that might need extra help. Five nights a week tutors come to the students offering a rotating schedule of subjects that can be found online. Study skills workshops are also offered in residence to help students develop the best habits for academic success.
Jobs and leadership opportunities
Residence offers both paid positions and volunteer positions to give students leadership opportunities and career experience. From front desk assistants to residence ambassadors, there are a variety of great positions to give students a greater chance to get involved in residence life. Students can apply for positions at the beginning of each semester.
Dons are upper-year students who live and work in residence. Each floor is assigned a don to help with questions or problems, uphold rules and policies, and provide support to students, but dons also specialize in making your stay in residence a great time! Dons plan fun activities and hold monthly meetings to help students get to know each other and have a good experience while living in residence.
Health and wellness
With new state-of-the-art facilities and offering comprehensive medical care to all registered students, health services acts as your family doctor and walk-in clinic away from home. For challenging or difficult circumstances, Counselling Services offer professionals to help with everything from education related decisions to personal issues surrounding stress, anxiety, depression, trauma, and more.
With one of the lowest crime severity indexes in Canada, Waterloo is a safe place to live, but should anything happen while on campus, UWaterloo Police officers are on duty 24 hours-a-day and easily accessible through campus phones. Additionally, campus shuttle, safety alarms and self-defense classes all offer resources to help keep students safe.
Each residence has a front desk with staff to help students 24 hours a day. More than just a place to pick up your mail or help you if you’ve locked yourself out of your room, front desk staff can sign out board games, books and movies, sell stamps, provide faxing services, and assist with common area activities, including signing out equipment and facilities.
Applying for residence as a first-year is a simple experience. Fill out a few online forms and receive your contract by email.
Living in residence is an investment in your child's academic success. Find out how much residence and meal plans are.
Want to know when your student should expect a residence contract? This page has all the important dates in one place.
Nothing is more important than your child's safety in residence. Learn more about what measures are taken to ensure a safe residence experience.
Have specific questions about menu's, hours of operation and meal plans? Food Services manages all eateries in residence.
Want to contact Waterloo Residences? Visit our contact page with all important contact details and hours of operation.
Wondering what your student should bring to residence? Visit our helpful online checklist before you pack!
To ensure a smooth move-in experience, we invite you to learn more about the move-in process.
All incoming first-years are invited to visit our online welcome guide that helps answer any questions, offers tips, and guides students to important information.
A helpful guide of all the services and resources available to your student regarding their mental health and wellness.