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.

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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.


Round 1 2016

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve finished our first round of engineering offers, and they should be all posted on Quest by now.  As mentioned in other places, we aimed to fill around 25% of our spaces at this point, and the rest of the offers will be processed in early May.  In the meantime, we’re waiting for the Ontario second semester grades to come in April, and we continue processing the transcripts and documents sent in by the other applicants (Form 105 applicants).

With the increase in application numbers, things seemed  a bit more competitive again this year.  But it will be impossible to quantify that until everything is over in May, so I can’t really comment any further.

So for those who recently got an offer, congratulations.  Make sure you think carefully about the program, and whether Waterloo is a good fit for you.  Maybe try to attend our open house on March 19, or come for a visit some other day.

For the 10,000+ people who didn’t get an offer, make sure your AIF (and any other required documents) are submitted, and just sit tight.  We’ll have the rest of the decisions in early May. (note, for the AIF make sure it’s “submitted” and not just “saved” on Quest.)

February News and Plans

Just a short update on progress for our 2016 admissions.

  • Applications are still coming in (until March 1), but it’s looking like we will have between 1,000 and 2,000 more than last year, so admissions will be a bit more competitive than last year.
  • Plans are in progress for our open house on March 19.
  • As described in the overview of the process, the Admission Information Form (AIF) reading is in full progress and we’re getting ready for the first round of offers.  We will accept AIFs until March 18.  Any submitted after February 5 might not be reviewed in time to have any impact on the first round of offers, but they will have their full consideration for the big round of offers in May.
  • For the first round, some offers for Ontario applicants (Form 101) will come out in late February.  Some for other applicants (Form 105) will probably come out in early March.  We can’t give specific dates, it depends on how things go.
  • With the increasing applications, I’m thinking that we will be fairly conservative with the first round and maybe only give away about 25% of the spaces.  It’s easier to be thorough and fair to everyone if we hold back most of the offer decisions until early May.  Most of the applications we consider in February will be deferred until May for a final decision, when we can see the whole picture.