This list of frequently asked questions has been prepared by the School of Planning Undergraduate Office.
Where can I find when a course is offered and who teaches it?
Please refer to the schedule of classes.
Why can't I access Quest or enroll in any courses?
If you get a message from Quest indicating that you have a “Service Indicator”, it generally means that you have fees owing (course fees, tuition, or parking). To confirm fees owing, click on "Personal Portfolio” and then “HOLD”. If you owe PLAN or ENVS course fees, contact Taylor Ertel to determine the amount to be paid to settle your account. Once the outstanding balance has been paid, it takes about 10 days to process the paperwork to release the hold. It is very important that you pay all course fees before the end of each term to eliminate any enrolment problems, and so you can access your grades.
Why is a course is not coming up on Quest when trying to enroll?
On Quest, if the course is not coming up that you have requested, it may mean that it’s not offered, it’s full, or the only seats remaining are reserved for other programs. You should refer to the schedule of classes to determine why you don’t have the option to enroll. You can view the class limit, number of students enrolled and whether it’s offered that particular term. Be sure that the schedule of classes is not unofficial because if it is, the previous course offerings and class times were pulled forward from last year. If that’s the case, there will be a note at the top of the schedule of classes to indicate it is unofficial. If no note appears, then the schedule is official. Also refer to the course selection offerings list.
Why do I get an error message when trying to enrol in a course?
If you get an error message when trying to enroll in a course, it means that the course has not been added to your schedule and you have not been enrolled in the course. If the course is full, or the seats are reserved for other programs, you must contact the instructor to obtain permission to get into the course. If you get a course conflict message, it means that the course you are trying to add overlaps with another course, and you must choose a conflict-free course.
What can I do if a course is full?
If a course is full, you can send the instructor an email to see if you can get into the class, since the instructor is the only person who can increase the class limit for a non-Planning course. You can obtain an instructor's email and contact information through WatIAM. If their name is not listed on WatIAM, contact the Department. If you are successful in obtaining a spot in the class, forward the instructor’s email to the school’s undergraduate advisor who will request the registrar's office to add the course to your schedule. Please include the course code and your ID# in the email. If the course is a Planning course, check with school’s undergraduate advisor, rather than the instructor, to see if there is room in the classroom and if the limit can be increased. If you are trying to get into a Wilfrid Laurier course that is full, you must contact them directly at 519-884-1970.
What does this error message, "Available seats are reserved. Reserved seat requirement not met." mean?
If you receive this error message it means that you are not enrolled in the course, since the only available spots are reserved for other programs. I would suggest contacting the instructor to see if you can get into the class. Forward the instructor’s email to the School’s undergraduate advisor who will arrange course enrolment. Information about other error messages.
Can I take a course without the required pre-requisite?
Generally speaking, you cannot take a course without the required pre-requisite. If you think that you may have some previous background experience, the instructor is the only person who can give you permission to take the course. Some instructors may give you permission to take the pre-requisite course at the same time. If permission is obtained, forward the instructor’s email to the School’s undergraduate advisor who will arrange course enrolment.
What is an Antireq. (antirequisite)?
If you take the course indicated as the antireq., you can't get credit for both courses, since there is a considerable amount of course content overlap. That is different from a Pre-req. (prerequisite), which means that you need to have successfully completed the course indicated as the pre-req. in order to take the course. The undergraduate calendar provides a complete glossary of terms.
Enrolling in a lecture/seminar as well as a tutorial/lab/studio
If courses have a lecture/seminar as well as a tutorial/lab/studio component, students must enroll in both sections (i.e. the lecture/seminar portion as well as only one tutorial/lab/studio section). Normally, the total class time is three hours/week.
What is a double-weighted course?
Most courses have a credit weighting of 0.5 unit. However, some are double-weighted and are worth 1.0 unit (i.e. PLAN 313). They count for two courses and fees are paid as such. The course duration is for one term only and does not span over two terms.
What time do classes start and finish?
Courses don't start any earlier than 8:30 in the morning and no later than 7:00 in the evening.
What electives should I take?
The Planning program consists of 26 required courses and 14 elective courses, and since Planning is very broadly-based, most courses would complement your studies. We recommend students take elective courses that will interest them, since first-year University will be quite an adjustment. Student averages typically drop about 10% at the University level, so it is important to take courses that you will enjoy, which should help obtain a good, strong average.
Can I take a second-year course in first year?
In first year, you can take a second-year elective course if there is no pre-requisite. You then have the option of taking a first-year elective in second-year, or taking another second-year elective and counting it as one of your first-year electives. The same goes for taking third-year courses in second year (a higher-level course can be counted as a lower-level one, not visa-versa). Keep in mind that you can only count a maximum of two first-year and three second-year elective courses towards the 40 courses required for graduation.
Can I take a language course?
You must contact the instructor or the Department to see if you qualify to take their specific language course or whether you can be exempt from the pre-req. due to previous experience.
What do I do if I am short a course and how can I make it up?
If you are short a course, it can be made up during a spring term or work term by taking an online course or by taking an extra course in your 4A or 4B term. A disadvantage of being short one course in first and second-year is that Quest won’t recognize you as completing the full year (i.e. if you are short a course in the second term of first year, Quest will still recognize you as being a 1B student even though you are technically in second year). Therefore, if you try to enroll in a course that requires the pre-req. of 2A, you will be unable to enroll through Quest and you will need permission from the undergraduate advisor.
Pursuing an option, minor, diploma, or specialization?
How do I know what text books I need?
You can view BookLook on the Bookstore website.
University email account
The University prefers students use their University of Waterloo email accounts since that is considered the official line of communication. If you haven't already done so, please activate your University of Waterloo email account. Instructions on how to link your current email account to your uwaterloo account can be found on the Mapping Analysis and Design (MAD) website. Once you've made the change, please inform the undergraduate advisor and update Quest.
Maintaining the required average
Co-op students must maintain a cumulative major average of 75% (all PLAN and ENVS courses) and a cumulative overall average of 65%. A student who does not maintain the required average(s) will be given a conditional term to bring their average up to the required level the following term. Should the student fail to meet the academic plan requirements at the end of the conditional term, she/he will receive a “failed” standing. Normally, students in 2A or above receiving a “failed” standing are eligible to apply for re-admission after an absence of two consecutive academic terms. A co-op work term immediately following a required to withdraw standing is not counted towards the two-term absence.
A student who is given a “failed” standing at the end of their second term of study, will, normally, be required to successfully complete the foundation term. (A student still maintains the option to withdraw for two academic terms). A student who continues in her/his studies after either a successful foundation term or an absence of two consecutive academic terms will have her/his record cleared; that is, grades achieved in all previous terms will not be included in the calculation of cumulative averages. Calculation of cumulative averages will begin with the foundation term or upon readmission after an absence of two consecutive terms. Courses taken prior to the foundation term or readmission will remain on the student’s official academic record. Cleared courses with grades over 65% will contribute to the total credits required up to 10.0 units.
Students are allowed to have only one foundation term or failed standing on their transcript while in their ENV program. Students not achieving their program averages for a second time will be unable to continue in Planning or in the Faculty.
Finding a job for the summer of first-year
Non-co-op jobs are also posted on JobMine through the Centre for Career Action, and on the School's website. You are also encouraged to start networking with professionals in the Planning field through family and friend connections. We strongly encourage students to become student members of Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP) where they can access job postings and conference opportunities.
What should I do if I am struggling with school, personal or health issues?
Many of you will feel pressure of meeting academic demands on top of the rest of your busy and often pressure-filled lives. Please keep in mind that there are many professional services offered on campus to assist you. Below is a list of the most common services that range from study help to counseling.
- Jess DeBrouwer, your academic advisor, is available to see you regarding any issues that you may be concerned about or struggling with. Her office hours are Monday-Friday 9:30-11:30 and 1:30-3:30. An appointment isn’t necessary; you can just drop by her office in EV3-3209.
- Instructors and/or teaching assistants can provide support (and possibly recommend tutors) for your course issues. You may feel intimidated about approaching one of them, but they are REAL people who are there to help you, and their goal is for you to succeed in their class.
- Counselling Services can provide you with individual counseling, and you can arrange an appointment in Needles Hall (NH), room 2068 or by calling 519-888-4567, ext. 32655.
- The Student Success Office is newly developed and is available to help you succeed at University. They are there to guide you through your time at Waterloo, whether it’s supporting you in your first-year experience, connecting you to leadership and development opportunities or helping you adjust to Canadian culture as an international student. You can find them on the second floor of South Campus Hall, and they can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org with any comments or questions.
- Study skills are also available through the Student Success Office on a variety of topics such as: study skills, writing skills, time management, preparing for and writing exams, cramming, etc.
- Workshops are also offered through Counselling Services on areas such as: managing your mood, stress management, coping skills, procrastination, and depression.
Tutor Connect an online tutoring board that connects students tutors with students who need a tutor
you can post your tutoring services or search through tutor profiles to see all of the available tutors, their current academic year and their hourly rate
- A free service hosted on the Student Success Office website
- Users must have a WatIAM ID to access the site
- Students can post a tutor profile or search for a tutor a specific course
- Tutor Connect is not monitored or screened by our staff
- If you are experiencing financial pressure, you may be eligible to apply for a bursary through Student Awards.
- If you are concerned about your writing skills, the Writing Centre can help you with the necessary skills for academic success.
- The Centre for Career Action can also provide a list of jobs (summer, part-time, work placement, volunteer, etc.) which are available to all students. They offer a variety of workshops such as: interview skills, success on the job, working effectively in another culture.
- Health Services provides on-site family physicians for registered students which includes urgent care and walk-in care.
- The Federation of Students runs a food bank. It's a place students can get free groceries when things get tight, especially at the end of term.
We strongly encourage you to take advantage of the free services above that students find very helpful. Our goal is that each and every one of you succeeds and enjoys your experience at Waterloo!
Intent to graduate
Intention to graduate forms due online:
- March 1 for Spring Convocation (completing requirements in the winter term);
- December 1 for Spring Convocation (completing requirements in the fall term);
- August 1 for Fall Convocation (completing requirements in the spring term).
Forms must be completed online through the registrar's office "forms" link.
Section A - Personal Information
Section B - Degree Information
Bachelor's degree: yes
Bachelor's degree name: Bachelor of: Environmental Studies
Program type: Honours
System of study: Co-operative system
Plan Major: Planning, Land Development Planning Specialization
Section C - Certificate or Diploma information: Diploma of Excellence in GIS
Graduation photos - appointments are booked online through Lifetouch. Grad photos are taken in the Student Life Centre (SLC) year round. Please see Lifetouch's website for your specific class composite deadline. Grad photo questions can be directed to Lifetouch using the contact form.
For more information on graduate photos, see the Registrar's Office website under "Frequently asked questions about convocation"
Graduation ceremony and planning ring presentation
The School of Planning is delighted to offer all graduates of the Planning program an official School Ring which will be presented at our Graduation Ceremony following convocation.
Please ensure that you have all course and library fees, parking fines, etc. paid by the end of the term so your Diplomas will actually be in your graduation folder when you cross the stage. If you are unsure whether you have outstanding Planning course fees, please contact Angie Rohrbacher.
To determine if you have other fees owing, check on Quest under “Personal Data” and select “Service Indicators”.
Confirm your address on quest
It is important to confirm that your mailing and home addresses, as well as your current email address, are accurate on Quest in case the Registrar’s Office needs to get in touch with you immediately regarding your program requirements or graduation.
Graduating class nominates a valedictorian
At Spring Convocation, a Valedictorian representing the graduating class addresses the graduates. The graduating class is asked to nominate students for Valedictorian. The nominated students prepare a speech and present it to the Valedictorian Committee (the Deans, a number of faculty, student association reps, etc.). The committee then chooses the Valedictorian who will present the same speech at Convocation.
The position of Class Valedictorian is an honoured one, and we urge members of the graduating class to nominate their best-qualified classmates.
The Valedictorian Nomination can be obtained from Carol Knipe, Office of the Dean, Faculty of Environment, EV1 336 and is due by the first week in March.
The University of Waterloo holds two convocations each year - one in mid-June and the other in late October.
Convocation information is available on the Registrar's Office website, including what time you must arrive, where to pick up your gown, where the receptions are held, etc. Convocation details are no longer mailed to students.
How your name is displayed on Quest is how it will appear on your Diploma. If you wish to request a change, you must submit a Name Change form (available online through the Registrar’s Office) along with the appropriate supporting documentation (i.e. passport/birth certificate).
Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP)/Ontario Professional Planners Institute (OPPI)
Our programs are recognized by the CIP for membership eligibility purposes. Membership is managed by CIP affiliates such as the OPPI. Graduates from Waterloo's degree programs must apply for Provisional member status and complete a minimum of 24 months of post-graduation experience in the Planning profession to be eligible for full membership. Candidates must also complete log books that detail relevant work experiences. Once the log books have been approved by OPPI, candidates must pass an oral examination (Examination A) that focuses on ethics and professionalism. Members of OPPI are also automatically members of CIP. Full members in Ontario are called Registered Professional Planners (RPP), and are entitled to use the initials "MCIP, RPP" after their names.
Keep in touch
With a network of more than 2,875 Planning alumni, we hope that you will stay in touch and possibly get involved with some of our alumni events such as the annual Toronto Alumni Dinner.
The Registrar’s Office website provides detailed instructions for ordering transcripts.
Your request will only be processed upon receipt of the completed Transcript Request Form and payment (allow one week)
Interested in graduate studies?
If you're thinking of attending graduate school, you should begin exploring your options in the Fall term, or earlier. Most schools expect applications to be completed early in the year (e.g. early January, or even December of your last year).
Be sure to read their website carefully before you start contacting the department and learn the application deadlines well in advance. Most information is available on-line. After reading the website, and you still need to ask questions, be sure to get your questions in order and ask them all at once. Schools typically don’t mind a couple of emails or phone calls, but when it reaches 20 different enquiries, it can become annoying and is not a good use of your time or theirs.
Make your application explanations brief and to the point. Admissions’ committees receive numerous applications and do not have time to sort through excess text.
Do exactly what the department requests. Do not send them email attachments and expect them to print off your information. If they request a complete hard copy of your application package, then be sure to submit a complete copy.
Students entering a graduate program with a scholarship, or proof that the applicant searched out and applied for scholarships helps to strengthen the grad application. Fourth year students who qualify can apply to the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS), Social Science and Engineering Research Council (SSHRC) or Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) during their fourth year (fall term) and again in the first year of a graduate program.
For additional scholarships available, check the Waterloo grad searchable scholarship database.
If the department asks for academic references, be sure to ask faculty members and not previous employers. You are applying to a graduate program and while your work experience may be an asset, it’s not the basis for admission.
If you have a choice between two professors who you have worked with and/or who know you well through courses, choose the most senior faculty member for your reference, or the person who knows you the best.
Don’t be afraid to ask a professor if he/she can give you a strong reference. Professors get asked often to write reference letters – it’s an expected part of their role -- but there is a difference between a “reference” and a strong reference. It’s also not just a basis of how well you have done in their courses, but if you have had a chance to talk to them one on one and develop a relationship.
If the university that you’re applying to has its own reference form, be sure to supply your referee with the form, or link. Individual letters are not always acceptable, or carry as much weight, if a ranking form was to be included.
Give your referees plenty of time to prepare your form/letter. Faculty members are normally writing multiple reference letters at the same time.
Make an appointment with your referees. Take along a copy of your resume and transcript, and be prepared to explain any extenuating circumstances regarding low marks (e.g. you had to work to fund your education, illness, family commitments, etc). Give them as much information (brief) about yourself as possible (i.e. career aspirations, goals).
You may wish to visit their campus. Call ahead for an appointment rather than drop in at the last minute. Some departments have information sessions. Check their websites to see if there are any scheduled sessions.
If you are required to upload electronic copies of your transcript, please be sure to check the instructions. Often the legend on the backside of the transcript showing the grading system must be uploaded as well.
If hard copies are required, order your transcripts well in advance. Universities get backlogged and it often takes longer than anticipated to send the transcripts to the universities. You will be admitted based on the marks showing to date on your transcript at time of applying.
If the transcript is to be sent directly to the university, ensure you have the correct name and mailing address of the individual. Others require all the information to be sent by the applicant to the university. Be sure everything is in sealed, signed envelopes.
Note, if you go to your university to pick up your transcripts, universities often stamp them “issued to student” and, in some cases, are not considered official by the university you are applying to. Be sure to leave them in sealed envelopes.
Links of interest
- School of Planning’s graduate studies information website
- Waterloo’s grad application link, and information about the on line application procedure
- Be sure to check the department website you are applying to for additional material the department requires. (See apply online for application procedures)
- Recognized University Programs in Planning - Student Zone – university programs
- Posters from some of the Planning programs offered in Canada, or outside, are posted on the wall in the Student Lounge EV3-3402.