The following is from last year’s admission cycle. See this post for the 2014 cycle.
Soon the application centre will be open, so let’s review how the process is going to work and the approximate timelines. As usual, this is specific to Waterloo Engineering admissions; other programs and universities will have their own unique variations. Also, make sure you check our admissions webpages for exact deadlines and requirements.
First, just note that there are two broad classes of applicants: those who are currently attending a high school in Ontario (we call them “OSS” applicants), and those who are not (“NOSS” applicants, which includes people in other provinces and countries, transfer applicants, and those who graduated from high school already). There is no advantage to being one type or the other, it’s just a different internal process because of the way data is provided to us, as you’ll see. So, here’s the process:
- Apply to one of our engineering programs through the online OUAC centre. They provide all the necessary instructions on their website. OSS applicants should apply by mid-January. NOSS have up to March 1 to apply, but sooner is better.
- Follow any additional instructions we send by email. Check your spam or junk folder, where our emails sometimes end up. You don’t want to miss anything important!
- If you need to meet our English Language Requirements, submit your TOEFL or IELTS or other English test score. We won’t consider you if this is missing, no matter how good your grades are.
- Submit your Admission Information Form (AIF) by the recommended deadline. This is your chance to tell us about your interests, awards, extra-curricular activities, employment experience, and any other significant things you want us to know about. You can also give us a 2nd and 3rd choice engineering program you’d like to be considered for, if your application isn’t competitive enough for your first choice. Generally, if you don’t submit an AIF you will probably not receive an offer, so don’t forget.
- OSS applicants can sit back and wait (but don’t slack off!). We will eventually get all your grade 11 and 12 marks from the school by electronic data transmission. We will use this to generate an admission average, based on the required courses.
- NOSS applicants will have to send us high school transcripts and predicted grades (if applicable). We will start going through this and compiling the grades data we need for decision-making. With thousands of applicants, this is a labourious and time-consuming manual process, so please be patient!
- We send portions of all the AIFs out to reviewers (faculty and alumni) to be read and assigned a score of up to 5 points. This gets added to your admission average. There are almost 10,000 AIFs to review, so this takes a while too. A future post will discuss the AIF in more detail.
- We compile “adjustment factors” based on our historical student performance data. The adjustment factor is simply the difference between the admission average and first year engineering average, broken down by school or region. A typical adjustment factor is around -15, meaning that an average high school student with a 90% average ends up with a 75% average in engineering. However, some are higher and others are lower. Here is an old Macleans article on this subject.
- For every applicant, we generate an “admission score”. This is the sum of the admission average + AIF score + adjustment factor.
- Sometime in late February to early March, we will take all the data we have and start making some admission decisions. For each program, we rank the applicants by admission score and start making offers to the top ones. We usually aim to fill about 40% of the available spaces at this point. We like to save a lot of spaces for later, in case the 2nd semester grades improve, or we haven’t had a chance to process the NOSS transcript yet. This is our “early round”, and I’ll post more details about how it works in the future.
- From March to April we continue processing transcripts and AIFs, and assemble the remaining data for the final round. We are also waiting for the 2nd semester mid-term grades to be uploaded for the OSS applicants.
- In early May, we do the final selection of applicants based on admission scores, and we fill the remaining spaces in all the programs. For those who don’t get admitted into their first choice program, we will put them into the pool for their second or third choice programs. We send out the offers, and then wait until the deadline in early June to see how many accept our offer.
- At the same time, we award the various Engineering entrance scholarships, based on grades and AIF scores. Scholarship awards go out with the admission offers.
- In June, if there are any remaining spaces we will do a few late offers for those on our wait list. Usually there are very few, if any, open spaces however.
So that’s the process, more or less. There are a bunch of details that go into this, but I’ll save those for future posts as we progress through the cycle.