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You student has officially completed their first term at Waterloo, navigating many changes, learning new things and creating new habits. With a new term underway, your student still has some new experiences ahead. We’ve broken them down by each month of the winter term:



The beginning of winter term is a great time to think about how you and your student communicated throughout first term. Did you talk about how you'd communicate beforehand and come up with a plan? Perhaps you’d like to do so now, or revisit and update your old plan. Students and their families learn and change throughout first term, and your communication plan might need to change along with you.

" "With a new term, your student may experience new waves of homesickness (especially if they spent the holidays at home with family and friends) or may currently be in quarantine. Since some students have left for their first co-op work term, campus may feel different and their groups of friends may change.

For students living at home, they will be adjusting to another change in the household and may experience changes within their friend groups as another university term begins.

Co-op tip! Is your student on their first work term? They may have different goals for the term and will revisit their academic goals in May. In the meantime, your student will learn to balance working full-time with additional responsibilities such as their Professional Development course and personal well-being. Budgeting will still be important to them this term, particularly if they're paying rent. You can find additional Work term resources from Co-operative Education.

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  • Setting goals and resolutions: The beginning of a new term - like a new year - is a good time to reflect on the past and set new goals for the future. Encourage your student to think about how fall term went, what they did well, and what they might like to improve this winter.
  • Encourage your students to get into the mindset they had during Orientation, when they worked to nurture new friendships. Remind them that things will calm down as the term gets started, but adjusting back to school can be difficult.
  • If your student seems to be dealing with more than homesickness or the winter blues, you can encourage them to connect with Counselling Services to attend a coping skills seminar on empowering habit change, alleviating anxiety, or cultivating resiliency. Check out the Campus Wellness Guide for parents and supporters to learn more. Mental wellness has a significant impact on student success so it’s important your student is keeping their mental wellness a priority.

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" "Midterm season is on the horizon again. Your student may need to refocus and try out new strategies to address challenges they faced at this time last term.

Reading Week (again!)

While your student is building on their study strategies, they may also be making plans for Winter Reading Week--and may even be starting to think ahead to summer. Just like Fall Reading Week in October, this is a mid-term study break for students to recharge and reset.

If your student will be at home, make sure to chat again about how you’ll spend time during their visit. Even if they live at home throughout the school year, their schedule for the week may be very different from usual. Touch base with your student and find a plan that works for the both of you.

Searching for summer work experience

Students commonly use Winter Reading Week as a time to begin planning for a productive summer at home. If your student is not entering their first co-op work term, the pressure to find a summer job may be stressful.

Depending on their program, your student may be getting ready to start their first co-op work term this summer. In that case, they're currently involved in the job search process and first round interviews. This is a busy time for your student as they prepare for interviews, work on their Professional Development (PD) course, and keep up with their academics.

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  • Remind your student about the academic support resources available to help them navigate any challenges.
  • Chat with your student about how they plan to spend their Winter Reading Week.
  • Encourage your student to drop off applications in person where possible, to ask friends and family if they know of anyone who is hiring, and to apply for the Federal Student Work Experience Program (preference is given to qualified Canadian citizens). Waterloo’s Centre for Career Action can also help them find job opportunities, review résumés and prepare for interviews.
  • Co-op tip! If your student has a summer work term, encourage them to book an appointment at the Centre for Career Action to review their résumé or cover letter, practice in a mock interview, or get more help with their work search. Students also have access to employment resources through CareerHub.

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It’s hard to believe the term is almost over! In one month, your student will write the final exams of their first year at Waterloo.

" "While your student will soon finish their school year, they're likely starting to think ahead to second year. As your student reflects on their experiences, they may notice their academic goals and priorities have changed since September. This is a normal experience for second-year students, and the summer break provides a great opportunity for you to encourage this reflection, especially in the following areas:

Goal setting

Second-year students sometimes experience a "slump" as the excitement of first year wears off. Your student may face challenges around staying motivated and working through new roadblocks. Encourage your student to remember why they applied to the University of Waterloo and what they want to accomplish with their education.

Alternatively, some students may become more focused on their academic accomplishments, so remind them to set goals around socializing and getting involved on campus. A healthy school-life balance is key to their academic success.

Planning ahead

The course selection period for next fall will be here before you know it, so it's a good idea to start having these conversations with your student now. Suggest that your student reach out to their academic advisor if they have questions about their academic plan or degree requirements. 

Personal development

Now that your student is wrapping up their first year, they may want to explore opportunities to develop outside of class.

  • The Student Leadership Program is designed to explore and enhance participants' leadership skills in a collaborative, experiential setting. The program is free to all current Waterloo students, and participants who complete it are eligible to receive the University of Waterloo Certificate in Leadership Development.
  • Students can develop global citizenship skills and internationalize their degree through Global Learning Programs, including international co-opsexchanges, and the Global Experience Certificate. If your student is interested in adding some adventure to their degree, encourage them to review their eligibility and begin planning over the summer. 

Campus tax clinics

Your student can now access their tax forms, including their T2202 Tuition Slip, on Quest. For many students, this could be their first year filing taxes. The Accounting and Finance Student Association (AFSA) hosts free Tax Clinics to help students file Canadian income tax returns.

International students are welcome at the clinics. AFSA volunteers will be available to walk first-time filers through the process of getting an Individual Tax Number (ITN) if they don’t have a Social Insurance Number (SIN). Please note that AFSA cannot help prepare tax returns for other countries at this time.

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  • Remind your student that asking for help is a strategy for success; not a sign of failure. Whether your student needs support completing final assignments or managing stress, there are many free resources ready to help.
  • Encourage your student to review what to bring and how to access student documents, then drop-in to a Tax Clinic this month.

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Final exams are here and your student is finishing up their first year of university. Though things are wrapping up, you and your student have one last adjustment period to navigate.

Year in review

As your student wraps up their first full year of studies at Waterloo, they may have a wide-range of different emotions, from relief and joy to stress and fatigue. It may be helpful to reflect upon the past year to learn from any challenges and to build upon successes achieved. After all, they’ve just finished their first year at Waterloo! Some resources available to you to help navigate these conversations include:

Returning to family life

If your student has been living in residence for the last two terms they may find it challenging to go back to family chores and expectations. Be prepared for your student to challenge aspects of home life that were previously accepted. Common challenges include things like curfews, checking-in and food choices. For ideas about how to ease the transition, check out the following articles:

Summer plans and staying connected

Whether your student is planning to work at a summer job, start another study term, or is on their first co-op work term; it can be a stressful time for them. All of Waterloo’s co-op and career support resources will remain open and available to them throughout the summer months.

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  • Don’t forget to celebrate with your student. They’ve just finished their first year at Waterloo!
  • Have an open conversation about your student's and your own expectations for the summer and the potential plans for upcoming terms.
  • If your student will be moving to accommodations off-campus in second-year, an optional meal plan can support them as they learn to live and cook on their own. Explore meal plan options to help your student save money and prepare for the time they'll be on campus.
  • We encourage you to stay connected with us to receive all the latest updates from the University as public health guidelines continue to evolve and plans for the upcoming terms become available:

"Congratulations! Your student has completed their first year journey at Waterloo. Celebrate this milestone while you look forward to next year."

Looking for additional support while your student continues their university career? Check out Don’t Tell Me What to Do, Just Send Money: The Essential Parenting Guide to the College Years.

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