Chatting about Engineering

One of our most valuable resources for finding out about an engineering education and co-op work experiences is our students.  We have quite a few volunteer Engineering Ambassadors who attend open houses, do tours and the Shadow Program, and are generally enthusiastic about sharing their experiences at Waterloo, both good and bad.

Our annual March Break Open House (March 18, 2017) is one opportunity to meet them, but there are lots of applicants who can’t attend for scheduling reasons or due to long distances.  So new this year, the Ambassadors have launched EngChat, where you can sign up to meet online (Skype) and have a discussion about Waterloo with a current student.  I’m looking forward to hearing how this goes, but it seems like a good and valuable resource for applicants (and perhaps their parents too).

For those who can’t visit campus, another useful resource is the Engineering Virtual tour below.  It gives a nice overview of various places on campus (although I note  that it doesn’t show any scenes from winter, which is a pretty time of year in its own way!).

 

News About Admissions

A brief update on what’s happening in the 2017 engineering admissions cycle.

  • Recently we sent out some offers to Ontario high school (OUAC Form 101) applicants.  As usual, we only sent enough to fill about 25% of the available spaces in each program, so we leave lots for the major round in early May.  Generally these offers go to top-ranked applicants with strong grades across the board, a submitted AIF, and 3 Grade 12 required courses completed.
  • Plans are in motion for our annual March Break Open House on March 18.  A visit to Waterloo is highly recommended for those within travel distance, especially if you’ve never been here before.  It’s a great chance to meet and talk with current students about their class and co-op experiences.
  • We’re working away on the non-Ontario (OUAC Form 105) applicant files, which is a complicated and manual process.  Tentatively, we hope to send out some offers to this group in early April.
  • We continue to review Admission Information Forms (AIFs).  Applicants should make sure they pressed “Submit” and not just “Save”, otherwise we don’t consider it and an offer is very unlikely.
  • We’re also working away on reviewing the submitted optional interviews.  It’s too early to conclude anything, but they seem to be going well.
  • Our big push for offers comes in early May, and then all the admitted applicants have until early June to make their final decision.  We will start compiling a wait list for any spaces that might open up in June.

Which Program is the Best?

I sometimes get asked which engineering program to pick for the best future career prospects.  I generally won’t answer that because its not the greatest way of selecting a program, and ignores individual aptitude and interest.  Being stuck in a career you don’t like is a likely outcome of that approach.

However there are some technical and societal trends that might be worthwhile thinking about for long-term opportunities and challenges.  And there are some programs that lend themselves to those trends, as I’ll point out.  If these areas are of interest, maybe one or more of the programs I mention are worth a look if you hadn’t thought of them before.  Many of these trends are related to climate change, which is a research and teaching interest of mine.  So here they are, in no particular order.

Continue reading

Alternate Program Selections

Our Engineering programs are “direct entry” (no general first year), so you apply through OUAC to the one of most interest.  Our internal online Admission Information Form (AIF) provides a space to select an alternative choice in engineering, without having to spend more money through OUAC.  Starting with the 2017 cycle there have been a few changes, so it’s probably a good idea to review some ideas and considerations. Continue reading

Submitting Your Admission Information Form 2017

Updated version of a past post for the 2017 admission cycle, as there have been a few small changes.

The Admission Information Form, or AIF, is the primary vehicle for applicants to tell us about themselves.  Our admission decisions are mainly based on grades, but the AIF information can help us distinguish between people who have similar grades, and we award up to 5  points onto the admission average for outstanding applicants.  Let’s go through the various parts of the AIF and see what is involved. Continue reading

Admissions 2017: How it’s going to work

An update on this popular post, with some revisions  for the upcoming September 2017 admissions cycle.  There are a few significant changes to note below…

Here is an overview on how the process works 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 look through our admissions webpages for exact deadlines and official requirements since this is just an unofficial, quick overview and I can’t cover every detail for every variety of applicant and situation. Continue reading

Chances for 2017

The 2017 Admissions brochures for Engineering and other programs have recently been uploaded.  We have continued to include a table showing admission probabilities (“chances”) for different programs and grade ranges.  Many people find it useful for getting a realistic impression of their chances at admission, and  then they can plan accordingly.   The online version of this table can be found here.  This is based on the 2016 results and as usual we caution that 2017 may be different, since it all depends on the competition level (which is unknown in advance).

One difference this year:  I’m going to break the chances data up into two categories, “Visa” (or study permit) applicants, and “Canadians and Permanent Residents” applicants.  The tables mentioned above lump everyone together, but looking back at  the last year or two it seems like it may be too pessimistic for Canadians and overly-optimistic for Visa applicants, as we’ll see below. Continue reading

Heading to Houston

New this year, NACAC (National Association for College Admission Counseling) is hosting three college fairs dedicated to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).  The first one is in Houston, Texas on Sunday September 25 2016 (for details click here).  We’ll be attending to represent Waterloo Engineering and the other STEM programs.  I see from the exhibitor list that our friends from the Universities of Toronto and Calgary are attending too, so there will be a bit of a Canadian contingent.

Why visit the U.S. and promote our programs?  It’s true that we only have about 200 spaces in Engineering for non-Canadians, and several thousand applicants for those spaces, so the competition for admission is fierce.  But we’re interested in having a diversity of applicants and finding the best from around the world.  Also, over 1,000 of our student co-op work terms (i.e. paid internships) each year are now in U.S. companies.  So it seems to make sense to start reaching out to potential applicants there using these NACAC STEM fairs as a starting point.

We look forward to meeting anyone from around the Houston area at the fair.  Also, if there are interested people there who can’t attend the fair we’ll be available the following day, Monday September 26, for personal or small group meetings.  Just email us at assoc.dir.admissions.eng@uwaterloo.ca to get details and set up an appointment.

 

Final Round for 2016

An updated posting…

The final set of offers are getting posted to our online Quest system, and then to the OUAC application centre (there is a day or two delay between the two).  At this moment, a lot of the Ontario school applicant offers (Form 101) have been posted.  The Form 105 offers (for outside Ontario) are being processed.  The university hopes to have the majority of decisions posted by the end of next week (May 13).  Because there are thousands of decisions to process (in addition to just Engineering), it can take a while for it all to finish.

A suggestion about communications…if you’re an applicant waiting on a decision, the best thing to do is to monitor your Quest account and your email until you see the outcome.  It is not a good idea to phone or email the university at this point, as the staff don’t have any information to offer until the decisions are finished being posted.  We know it’s difficult to wait, but phone and email won’t get a result any faster.

As a quick summary for this year, we had just under 12,000 applicants for about 1,550 spaces, or around 7.5 applicants per space.  It’s actually a bit more complicated than that.  There were about 6 applicants per space reserved for Canadians and Permanent Residents, and almost 17 applicants per space for the 200 spots reserved for visa students, so that competition is quite a bit tougher.

Overall, with our space limitations and the number of applicants, we will be turning away over 2,500 applicants with a 90%+ admission average.