If you have any questions about your first term at Waterloo, please visit the Student Success Office website.
Why should I attend Orientation?
Orientation is an opportunity to learn more about the University of Waterloo and what to expect now that you’re here. We can help answer all of your questions and help you become more familiar and comfortable on campus before you start classes.
Many of our campus resources and services will be on display to let you know exactly who’s available on campus to help you succeed in your first year, and throughout your university career. Overall, Orientation is a great way to start your Waterloo experience and will help you get acquainted with your new surroundings before classes begin.
What is the schedule for Orientation?
Winter and Spring start Schedule information will be available approximately one month before you arrive. Check back for more information closer to your start date.
In the fall, First-Year Orientation programming starts on your move-in date and runs through until Saturday. Full schedule details will be available in your Portal calendar once event details are finalized in August. International Orientation takes place in the final days of August.
Full schedule details will be available in your Portal calendar once you've registered and event details are finalized.
How can I join the conversation and connect with other incoming students, upper-year students and Waterloo staff before arriving?
Registering for Orientation and Airport Pick-up
Yes, you will need to register in Portal Web. Registration for Orientation will open in November for January start, March for May start, and July for September start.
- Log into Portal web (using your WatIAM username and password).
- Select the Calendar page from the menu.
- Select the Events tab.
- Search for Orientation.
- Complete and submit the form that best reflects the experience you are looking for.
I can’t register for Orientation before arriving on campus, what should I do?
We strongly recommend that you register for orientation prior to arriving. However, if that is not possible, registration will be open throughout the event itself. If you can’t register online before arriving on campus, you will be able to register in-person once you arrive.
How do I know if I'm registered for Orientation?
Upon registering in Portal, you will receive an email confirmation with your QR code. You will need this QR code to check-in to orientation events.
There is no fee for Winter and Spring Orientation.
In the Fall, the fee for students who attend First-Year Orientation is $110.53. The fee is listed with your incidental fees. If you're unable to participate in Orientation, you can opt-out of the Orientation Fee when you pay your student fees in Quest. If you opted-out of the Orientation fee and decide to attend, you will be required to pay the fee in person before participating. Check Student Financial Services for due dates and information about paying your fees.
There may also be events throughout Orientation that have additional costs. Participation in these events is at your own discretion. You will be notified during registration if an event has a fee.
- Arrange travel to campus. You must coordinate your own transportation and cover any costs. Unless you are arriving during the sheduled Aiport Pick-up times. See details below about arranging this service.
- Activities during the program and spending money. If you wish to purchase anything on campus during Orientation you will need to cover the cost. If your parents and family join you in activities outside of scheduled Orientation events, they will need to pay for public transportation (exact change required). You can ride for free with your WatCard.
How do I register for Airport Pick-up?
Do you need to arrange transportation from Toronto Pearson International Airport to Waterloo? We provide a free airport pick-up service to new incoming international students and up to two of their family members. Register for Airport Pick-up in Portal. Spots for this free service fill up fast - so sign up as soon as possible.
Visit the International Student Guide for more information about arranging your travel to Waterloo.
I am living on-campus and I am looking for more details on the move-in process.
Review move-in details for:
- Waterloo Residences - main campus
- St. Paul's University College Residence
- St. Jerome’s University Residence
- Conrad Grebel University College Residence
- Renison University College Residence
I’m living off-campus – should I attend Orientation?
Yes! At Orientation events, you can meet other students living off-campus, learn about many campus resources that are available to you, and familiarize yourself with the campus. In the fall, there's programming for students who live off-campus hosted by the Off-Campus Community.
I will be commuting to Waterloo and want to stay in town during Orientation, how can I do this?
There are a few options for short-term living accommodations, however, they will all be at your own cost. A list of on and off campus short-term housing options is available.
If I register for Orientation, do I have to attend every single event?
We encourage everyone to "try out" all of the events at the very least, but event attendance is based on your discretion. The events will cover many different topics, and be presented in many different styles, so feel free to ask around and determine which events you think will best suit your interests and needs.
I'm a transfer/exchange/grad student coming to Waterloo - should I attend Orientation?
Yes! We have programming for all Waterloo students. Learn more about your specific programming by following the link below:
I'm an international student coming to Waterloo, when should I arrive on campus?
Visit the International Student Guide for important dates to consider when making your travel arrangements.
My family member (e.g. parent/guardian, spouse, child) wants to come to Orientation with me - what is there for them to do?
Family programming is not available at Winter or Spring Orientation.
During Fall Orientation Parent and Family Orientation sessions will take place. Encourage your parents or family members to attend sessions while you get settled in on move-in day, then join them for the Family Send-Off to celebrate your new adventure.
Are all Orientation events accessible?
Yes – our volunteers and staff work hard to make sure everyone, at all ability levels, can participate in Orientation. To ensure that our events suit your specific needs, please register for Orientation and let us know what you require so that we can ensure we have the appropriate accommodations in place for you when you arrive. There are questions in the application process to indicate any requirements. Accessibility and inclusivity information is available for all Orientation events within the portal event.
Are we allowed to bring alcohol or drugs to Orientation?
Orientation is a strictly dry event and there is a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol and drugs in effect, regardless of if you are of legal age. Any student who shows up for an event under the influence of alcohol or drugs will not be allowed to participate in the activities. Students will then be escorted to their residence or their off-campus home. More information about Student Discipline can be found in Policy 71.
Guided by provincial and federal legislation, and with a focus on the health and safety of the UWaterloo community, the Secretariat has published the University's Approach to Cannabis Legalization Q&A, which has been summarized in the Ten things to know about cannabis at UWaterloo news item.
Are we allowed to bring friends to Orientation?
Orientation is only open to incoming University of Waterloo students. We ask that you do not invite friends from other schools to Orientation events, as they will not be allowed to attend or participate.
Have your photo taken at the WatCard office in the SLC basement when you arrive on campus. You will need your WatCard in order to check-in to Orientation.
To pick-up your WatCard, you'll need to provide the following:
- Your eight-digit student number
- Government-issued photo ID