1. When is Orientation?
Fall Orientation is Sunday, September 3 to Saturday, September 9 with classes starting September 7.
This program is for all incoming students (first year, international, American and out-of-province, exchange/study abroad, transfer and graduate students). Register on Portal.
If you have any questions about your first term at UWaterloo, 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 throughout the week to let you know exactly who’s available on campus to help you succeed in your first year, and throughout your university career. Overall, it’s a great way to start your Waterloo experience, and will help you get acquainted with your new surroundings before classes begin.
How can I join the conversation and connect with other incoming students, upper-year students and Waterloo staff before arriving?
Join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to get your questions answered, talk with other students, or learn more about Orientation. You can also get a sneak-peek at campus life by following the UWaterlooLife Instagram account, and the university's Snapchat account, @uofwaterloo.
Registering for Orientation
Do I need to register/sign up for Orientation?
Yes, you will need to register before checking in for Orientation. Register on Portal.
I can’t register for Orientation before arriving on campus, what should I do?
Registration for Fall Orientation will be open up until and throughout the week itself. If you can’t register online before arriving on campus, you will be able to use one of the many computers on campus to do so once you arrive.
Does Orientation cost anything to attend?
The fee for students who attend Fall Orientation is $107.01. If you're unable to participate in Orientation, you will be able to decline your invitation and receive full reimbursement in late October. More information about this process will be available soon.
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.
- Transportation to campus. UWaterloo's airport bus pick-up service is free for you and up to two family members. Registration for the airport bus pick-up is required if you plan to use the service, and will open in December. If you are unable to use the bus pick-up service, you must coordinate alternative transportation and any costs. If you are an international, exchange or out-of-province student, this service is the most convenient for you. More information about this service will be available soon.
- Activities during the program and spending money. If you wish to purchase anything on campus you will need to cover the cost. If your parents and family join the optional bus trip into Waterloo (not to be confused with airport bus), they will need to pay for public transportation (exact change required). You can ride for free with your WatCard.
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 campus.
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 attend Orientation, do I have to attend every single event?
The number of events you attend, and which ones, is up to you. 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 if you don’t want to attend them all. We do encourage everyone to “try out” all of the events at the very least – you never know what could end up being more useful than you may have thought.
I’m an international student - is there anything special for me to attend?
Yes! Check out the First-Year International Students page to learn more.
I'm a transfer/exchange/grad student coming to Waterloo this fall - should I attend Orientation?
Yes, we have programming for all Waterloo students. Find out more about programming for:
My family member (e.g. parent/guardian, spouse, child) wants to come to Orientation with me - what is there for them to do?
Orientation events are exclusive to new students. However, if your family members plan to visit UWaterloo, they can book a student-led campus tour with the Visitor’s Centre to learn more about the UWaterloo student experience and campus.
Are all Orientation events accessible?
Yes – our volunteers and staff work hard to make sure everyone of all ability levels can participate in the week. 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.
If you haven’t already, you can also contact the AccessAbility Services if you require a longer term plan for your time here at the University of Waterloo. They also manage all accommodations for learning needs, temporary disabilities, and provide many services for all forms of accessibility on campus.
Are we allowed to bring alcohol to Orientation?
Orientation is a strictly dry event and there is a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol in effect throughout the week, regardless of if you are of legal age. Any student who shows up for an event intoxicated will not be allowed to participate in the activities and will have their wristband removed immediately. Students will then be escorted to their residence or their off-campus home.
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 in.
When/how do I get my WatCard?
Submit your WatCard photo in advance and avoid the long lines when you arrive on campus. If you don’t submit your photo online, you can have a photo taken when you come to get your WatCard.
Who is International Orientation for?
New University of Waterloo undergraduate students on a study permit who have completed High School abroad; students who attended High School in Ontario but identify as ‘international’ students who identify as ‘new’ to Canadian culture, and students who identify as English Language Learners.
Why should I attend International Orientation?
International Orientation will allow you to settle into your residence (on-campus) early while you have the opportunity to meet other new students, staff and Faculty members. This program is a great introduction to campus before your Undergraduate Orientation which begins Sunday, September 3 after International Orientation.
Do I have to pay for International Orientation?
No. This program is free of charge to all new incoming international undergraduate students.
What are the important dates and deadlines I should be aware of?
International Orientation programming begins at 9am on Friday, September 1 and ends mid-day on Sunday, September 3. Participants of International Orientation should register no later than Thursday, August 31.
When do I need to arrive in Waterloo?
Please plan to arrive in Waterloo on the morning of Friday, September 1. Programming will start at 9am of Friday, September 1.
What if I’m arriving before Friday, September 1?
Please take a look at our website for alternative accommodations if you are planning on arriving before Friday, September 1.
What if I arrive after Friday, September 1?
A late check-in booth will be open in South Campus Hall between 9:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 2 and Sunday, September 3.
What if I live off campus or at one of the University Colleges, where do I check in on Friday, September 1?
Please check in at the Student Life Centre between 9:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. You will be greeted by our friendly volunteers who will provide you with a schedule for the weekend.
Can my parents accompany me?
Yes. Parents and family members of incoming students are invited to join us during International Orientation. Please note that a Parent and Family Orientation will be taking place on Saturday, September 2. Please register any family members when you register for International Orientation!
Does the University of Waterloo provide any airport pick-up service for new students?
Yes. We will be offering pick-ups between Friday, September 1 and Sunday, September 3; specific pick-up times can be seen on our Airport Bus Pick-up website.
What should I bring with me?
Please bring all required documentation needed to enter the country:
- Work visa
- Acceptance Letter
When do I move into my residence?
If you are living on-campus, please register for early move-in on your International Orientation registration form. Only students who are participating in International Orientation will be eligible for early move-in taking place on Friday, September 1.
What do I need to pack?
Please see a list of what to pack on the Housing and Residences page. You will not be provided with bedding, however, you will have the opportunity to attend an off-campus trip to a shopping center to pick up most items on your list.
What if I’m living off campus?
Please connect with your landlord about your move-in date.
What if I’m living at one of the University Colleges?
If you are attending International Orientation, you will be eligible to move into your University College Residence on Friday, September 1.
Will I need to change rooms after International Orientation is over?
No. You will be assigned to your room starting on Friday, September 1.
International Orientation details
When do I get my schedule for International Orientation?
Schedules will be available on Portal after you have registered for International Orientation. Paper copies of schedules will be provided to you upon check-in.
What will we be doing during International Orientation?
Participants are able to meet other new students from countries all over the world, experience Canadian culture before the start of classes, and meet upper-year peers from their own Faculties and much, much more! You will have the opportunity to set up your banking and cell phone accounts, learn about the University Classroom and more.
Can my parents join my sessions?
Parents are invited to join sessions on Friday, September 1 and Sunday, September 3, however, we ask parents and family members to attend an informative International Parent and Family Member Orientation taking place on Saturday, September 2. Parents and family members are invited to join you for the President’s Welcome Barbeque on Saturday evening.
What services are available to support students with accessibility needs or ongoing medical conditions during International Orientation?
Students are encourage to connect with AcessAbility Services on campus for accommodations regarding physical and/or other disabilities. Please state any accessibility needs on your registration form.