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Students with Family Responsibilities

The University of Guelph welcomes students with family care responsibilities and recognizes that balancing parenthood and family responsibilities with academic goals and aspirations has unique challenges. 

At the University of Guelph, we strive to create a respectful and supportive learning environment for our students, with access to resources to support your success. We encourage you to check out the resources available to you – both on-campus and in the community – that will help you as you work to achieve your academic goals. 

Campus Community

Are you an undergraduate or graduate student looking to connect with other student caregivers? Here. are some opportunities for you to get involved and meet others on-campus with shared experiences: 

  • Orientation Event: O-Week runs just before the fall semester begins every year. Email start@uoguelph.ca for more information.  
  • Graduate Student Support Circles: The Graduate Student Support Circles (GSSC) offers graduate student-parents the opportunity to meet weekly with their peers. Email grad.circle@uoguelph.ca for more information.  
  • Mature Student Community: The Off-Campus Living Office (OCL) and Mature Student Association run events for mature students, via Gryphlife.ca.  
  • Housing community: Family-friendly events and activities are hosted through Student Housing Services. Email housing@uoguelph.ca for more information. 

Family-Friendly Spaces

Wondering about spaces that are specifically family-friendly on campus? The following is a short list of family-friendly spaces that other students have gathered and explored with their family:

  • Outdoor spaces on campus, such as the Arboretum and Johnston Green allow for lots of space to run around.  
  • University Centre: The UC has open, indoor space on the first floor, and a cafeteria with seating 
  • The first floor of the library: The Library offers space for groups and conversations to take place – kids included! 
  • If living in Family Housing and Graduate Student Housing, space and events are regularly hosted both indoors and outdoors on a wide variety of topics. 

 

Covid-19 has shifted access to spaces for the safety of our entire Gryphon community. You can read more about Covid-19 and our campus on the university’s Covid-19 page.  

As we continue to identify opportunities to reduce obstacles for parenting students and those with family care demands, we are actively exploring the creation of additional inclusive spaces for student-parents and caregivers on campus. Departments who have allocated space for student-parents are encouraged to email start@uoguelph.ca.  

Note: Parents or guardians must closely always monitor children with line-of-sight supervision, with sole responsibility for the safety and care of the child while on the University of Guelph campus. 

Resources and Strategies for Success

We understand that caring for children and other family members while at university can be a challenging experience. Below are resources for strategies in adjusting to university life and successfully navigating your degree while caring for others:  

Needing to Take a Leave of Absence?

As an undergraduate or graduate student with family care responsibilities, it is possible that you need to take a leave of absence for a variety of reasons.  

Undergraduate Students: Ensure that you connect with the following staff if you are considering taking a semester off or reducing your course load: 

  • Program Counselling Office: Connect with your Program or Faculty Advisor about your intentions to reduce your course load or take a semester off, so that they can assist in ensuring you continue to progress towards your degree.  
  • Student Financial Services: Speak with a Financial Aid Advisor if you are currently receiving scholarships, bursaries, or other financial support and plan on changing your degree progression/course load, as this may impact the financial support you receive.  
  • New Student Advisor: If you are a new student, you can connect with the New Student Advisor at start@uoguelph.ca for assistance in navigating a leave of absence.   
  • Other campus resources you are connected with, such as Student Accessibility Services.  

Graduate Students: Graduate students can apply for a Leave of Absence, typically for up to three semesters. This can be for the birth of a child, any family care responsibilities time, and more. Graduate students are encouraged to discuss potential leaves with their supervisor(s).  

Asking for Support

Many upper-year students with family care responsibilities will share that one of the best strategies is asking for help. Here are some specific supports that you can connect with about your experience, specifically:  

  • New Student Advisor: Undergraduate and graduate students are welcomed to connect with the New Student Advisor as a first point of contact or for advising, at start@uoguelph.ca.  
  • Student Wellness Services: A great first point of contact when it comes to the health and wellness needs of you or your family are our Wellness Navigators. Make an appointment through Student Wellness by calling 519-824-4120 x 52131.  
  • Faculty Advisor: If you are a graduate student, it is suggested that you reach out to your faculty advisor. Your Advisor may be able to offer direction around campus services. 

Resources

Living Off-campus or Commuting

If you are interested in living off-campus or commuting from outside Guelph, the Off-Campus Living office is your resource. (insert more about offer / contact info). 

You can contact OCL at ocl@uoguelph.ca.   

Living in Residence

At the University of Guelph, we have two Family and Graduate Student Housing communities: College Avenue and Wellington Woods. These are true communities: a neighbourhood of support for you and your family.  

If you are interested in living in Residence by yourself, additional options are available.  

For details about applying to Student Housing and the accommodations themselves, visit housing.uoguelph.ca.  

The University of Guelph is home to the Child Care and Learning Centre and students requiring childcare are given priority. For information about the Centre and the registration process, please visit: Registration Process | Child Care (uoguelph.ca). 

To receive information for childcare centres, in-home childcare registries and caregiver registries in Guelph and Wellington County, please visit: Looking for Child Care - Wellington County.  

Information about scholarships, bursaries, and other financial support available to University of Guelph students is available on the Student Financial Services website.  

Accessing financial support as a student with dependents or as a mature student may be of interest to you. Email accquest@uoguelph.ca to get in contact with a Student Financial Aid Advisor. 

The Office of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Studies has funding available to full-time doctoral students for the birth or adoption of a child: Parental Leave Fund Application Form. Funding is also available for students requiring personal medical leave: Paid Medical Leave Application Form. Please contact grschol@uoguelph.ca for more information. We encourage you to also connect with your faculty advisor and/or Graduate Program Coordinator about other funding opportunities. 

The City of Guelph offers a variety of family support services, healthcare, and recreational programming for families. Below are links to support services in the community, and maps to recreational facilities and outdoor play areas and splashpads within Guelph and surrounding area.