Parent and Supporter toolbox

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New students understand that there are differences between high school and university, but they don’t always know what the actual differences will be. Some students will overrate their abilities and under-estimate the experience. Waterloo students are used to performing well and receiving strong grades in high school, so they might attend their first few lectures, recognize material they’ve seen before, and decide that they don’t really need to adjust. At the very beginning of their term, these students may not appreciate the magnitude of everything that’s different. As the term progresses, this approach can create a lot of obstacles to a student’s success.

We also know that students can be reluctant to access resources on-campus, because they’re worried about being viewed as “weak” or unintelligent. New Waterloo students may be accustomed to having their peers come to them for academic help, and so asking others for help is a new experience for them.

Asking for help is a strategy for success; it’s not a sign of failure.

If parents support this message, students will be more likely to make help-seeking part of their behavior. They will develop the confidence to go to their professors’ office hours and say, “I don’t understand this,” or “I want to clarify something you said in class.”

Your student is likely highly intelligent and strongly motivated – Waterloo students are among the top of their high school classes. They all possess the ability to succeed. Parents, and university staff and faculty, just need to work together to help them adjust old strategies and learn new ones that will continue their success.


Resources for your student

Refer your student to the resources listed below as needed.

Academic support

If your student… Refer them to...
Has questions about their academic program, including: pursuing a minor, changing majors, dropping classes Academic advisor
Has questions about course registration or transfer credits The Centre
Needs academic accommodations to support a known, or suspected, temporary or permanent/chronic disability AccessAbility Services
Will miss an exam or assignment deadline due to illness Campus Wellness
Is having difficulties keeping up with course readings, preparing for tests, or balancing their time Student Success Office – Peer Success Coaching
Needs help with a writing assignment or presentation

Writing and Communication Centre

Instructor’s office hours
Needs support in a specific course

Tutor Connect

Needs help researching a topic for assignments or papers

The Library

Needs accessibility technologies or equipment to facilitate their studies

The Library

Health and wellness

If your student… Refer them to...
Feels ill Campus Wellness – Student Medical Clinic
Has questions about their student health and dental insurance

Campus Wellness

Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association
Has dietary restrictions or allergies Food Services
Wants to join a gym, attend fitness classes, or join a recreational sports league Athletics and Recreation
Needs to talk about a mental health issue in a confidential environment

Campus Wellness – Counselling Services

Needs urgent mental health support off-campus After-hours contacts
Needs to learn or develop coping skills Campus Wellness – Seminars and Workshops
Needs support to address an act of racism or discrimination

Racial Advocacy for Inclusion, Solidarity and Equity (RAISE)

Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-racism

Wants to connect with the Waterloo 2SLBTQ+ community Glow Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity
Wants to connect with equity-based student services

Glow Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity

Racial Advocacy for Inclusion, Solidarity and Equity (RAISE)

The Women's Centre

Co-op and career support

If your student… Refer them to…
Is looking for a summer job Centre for Career Development
Has questions or needs support in the co-op interview process Co-operative Education
Is on a co-op work term, and has questions or concerns about their job

Co-op advisors

Co-op Connection
Is looking for volunteer opportunities

Student Success Office

Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association

Is looking for a skill building/experiential learning opportunity

The Library Ambassador program

Financial information and support

If your student… Refer them to…
Has questions about OSAP, other provincial funding, awards and bursaries, scholarships, work-study, emergency loans, tuition fees, promissory notes, tax receipts, RESP or UHIP The Centre
Is looking for scholarship opportunities Undergraduate Awards Database

Residence and off-campus housing

If your student... Refer them to...
Needs more information about living on the main UWaterloo campus Campus Housing
Needs more information about living in a University College residence

University College residences

Needs support finding off-campus housing Off-Campus Housing

International and cultural connections

If your student… Refer them to…
Has questions about their visa or immigration status Student Success Office – Immigration Consulting
Wants to learn more about Canadian culture and connect to an intercultural community

International Peer Community

International and Canadian Student Network

International Student Guide
Wants to make social connections Waterloo Undergraduate Student Union - Clubs
Is looking for spiritual connection and support Waterloo Chaplains
Wants to connect with the Waterloo Indigenous Student community  Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre
Is interested in study abroad or exchange opportunities

Student Success Office – Go Abroad

Student Success Office - Global Experience Certificate

Safety and emergency services

If your student… Refer them to…
Has experienced a crime on-campus Special Constable Service
Has been impacted by sexual violence Sexual Violence Response Coordinator
Needs urgent help off-campus After-hours contacts

Differences between high school and university

Student perspective

In some high schools... At the University of Waterloo...
No preparation was necessary for class Students are expected to have prepared before each lecture

Teachers taught all of the course material in class

Instructors focus on teaching only the main course concepts in class
Homework was sometimes assigned for outside of the classroom Regular studying, assigned readings, and reviewing outside of the classroom is necessary
Courses have numerous low stakes assessments Many courses have smaller numbers of high stakes assessments (e.g. midterms and final exams)
School days followed a structured timetable Days are less structured
80 per cent of learning was done in class* 20 per cent of learning is done in class*
20 per cent of learning was done independently outside of class* 80 per cent of learning is done independently outside of class*

*Please note: The percentage of learning completed in class vs. independently outside of class may vary depending on your student’s program, classes and course load.

Parent perspective

When your student was in high school, you might have… In university…
Helped manage your student’s time so they could get to work, school, or extracurricular activities Your student will be responsible for managing their own time
Reminded your student to do their homework Communication with your student may be less frequent
Covered all of your student’s expenses You don’t have access to your student’s records, including financial information – even if you contribute to their tuition or housing fees
Communicated with your student’s teachers about their performance You won’t be notified about your student’s academic performance and you cannot call in to ask anyone about it