University of Waterloo: Student life on campus
An insider’s guide to the best place to live, campus food and more
Nicola Rose, 21: English, business and political science
Why did you choose Waterloo?
The primary factor was my academic program, which combines the study of business with humanities or social sciences. I was also drawn to UWaterloo’s unique co-op program, which I felt would prepare me to enter the workforce after graduation and strengthen my law school candidacy if I chose to apply. The university’s innovative reputation and partnerships with business leaders were other draws.
Describe some of your best experiences so far.
Some of the academic experiences I value most are the ones when professors took less traditional and/or more participative approaches to teaching: coordinating trips to museums and cultural events, organizing debates and discussion forums, having us act out/participate in ethical dilemmas and having us play video games. The list goes on. I also had a professor sit down with students at the beginning and the mid-point of the term to help them improve in the specific areas that were most related to their academic goals.
Are you involved in extracurricular activities?
I’m the managing editor of the school newspaper; I began volunteering as a reporter and copy editor in my second year. I am also a student ambassador: I lead tours of the campus, represent the university at recruitment/informational events and write for blogs about student life. Over the past few years, I have volunteered with the Disability Advocacy and Community Alliance.
What do you think of your professors?
Generally, I’ve been very happy with my professors. Most have been knowledgeable, insightful, supportive and engaging. Every professor has been welcoming and tried to help with any issue I brought them.
What do you think of the school’s administration?
I really appreciate the way UWaterloo does course selection and enrolment. Instead of using a first-come, first-served system, students have a designated period to select their classes and rank their choices. After they submit their preferences, academic schedules are built. Students can add or swap classes until two weeks into the term. This process ensures generally high satisfaction from students, and academic advisers are typically helpful when issues arise. However, there can be frustrating administrative barriers in other areas.
What is off-campus life like in Waterloo?
With three post-secondary schools in the city, Waterloo has a pretty good student life. Many local businesses target students or accommodate them—Princess Cinemas, Button Factory Arts, Grand River Rocks climbing gym, Old Goat Books, THEMUSEUM and the Bauer Bakery & Café.
Best place to live: On campus, St. Jerome’s University College; off-campus, Westcourt Place
Best place to study: Centre for Environmental and Information Technology or the top floor of Environment 3
Best campus events: Welcome Week/Orientation Week events
Weirdest tradition: Rubbing Porcellino (a bronze boar statue on campus)
Best campus food: The Funcken Café
Best pizza: Red Swan Pizza (‘no sugar added’ sauce option)
Best place for a fancy dinner: Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria
Best bar for hanging out: Pin Up Arcade Bar
Best hangover breakfast: Mel’s Diner
Best place for a nap: In summer, Waterloo Park; in winter, the upper floors of DC
Best weekend activity: Rock climbing at Grand River Rocks
The thing that surprised me most about the school: The quality of the community
If I could change one thing about the school: More comprehensive mental health and wellness support, including fewer administrative barriers to access, more training for professors and more efforts to reduce stigma