A Few Offers So Far

As usual around this time of year, we have processed a few offers for applicants who are currently in an Ontario high school.  Generally this will fill less than 25% of the available spaces in each program, leaving the large majority of spaces for our final round of decisions in May when we have more complete data for a fair comparison.  People who don’t get an offer at this stage are automatically carried forward for consideration then.

The selection process is a bit random at this stage, which is why I don’t like to commit very many spaces.  Typically, people with offers at this point have consistently high grade 11 and 12 math, English & science marks, and at least 3  Grade 12 required courses completed.  Also they probably ranked in the top end of all the program applicants, taking into account an AIF score (and optional interview score, if one was submitted).  It takes us until mid-April to complete all the AIF and interview scoring, so at this stage it’s somewhat random whether those play a significant role or not for any one individual.

Eventually (by the end of April), we get all the Grade 12 marks and other scores, and then it’s much fairer  to compare everyone on the same basis.  Any high scoring applicants who missed out on the early round will get selected at that point.

For out-of-province applicants (OUAC Form 105), we’ll do a bit of a preliminary offer round in a few weeks when we have more data compiled from transcripts.  It’s difficult to say exactly when (it depends on many things), but hopefully by early April to help out those with May 1 offer acceptance deadlines at U.S. universities.

Application Trends and Other Stuff

The admissions work is now at full speed with most applications submitted by now.  Before I review some trends, a few important suggestions:

  1. For those within reasonable travel distance, our March Break Open House occurs on March 10 2018.  Highly recommended if you haven’t been on campus before.  Also a good time to visit if you’re not in Grade 12 but are thinking ahead to future years.
  2. Our “Quest” system will be down for a significant software upgrade from February 16 to 22.  Applicants won’t be able to work on submitting their AIF during this period.  (also, when finished with your AIF don’t forget to click on “submit”.  “Save” is not sufficient, and we won’t be able to review it.)

As far as application trends go, the numbers are up again this year to just over 13,000 for about 1,675 spaces in Engineering.  An increase of about 1,500.

Applications for the Canadian spaces (about 1,450 available) are up about 10% overall to around 8,700.  Some programs have a bit stronger increases, like Biomedical, Computer, and Systems Design.  Nothing too unexpected however, just the normal fluctuations we get from year to year.  I can’t go into details about specific program numbers, but generally there are 5 to 10 applicants per available space.

The bigger surprise is the applications for our non-Canadian spaces (about 220 available).  These are up around 25% to well over 4,000.  This seems to be the case across the whole university as well as many other Ontario universities.  The theory among admissions and recruiting people is that recent political turmoil in the U.S. and U.K. have driven applicants to seek education in other English-speaking countries like Canada.  I’ve seen articles about dramatic drops in foreign student applications to U.S. colleges, so the theory seems to make some sense.

We’ve added extra staff to handle the additional volume.  It will definitely be challenging again this year to select the few applicants from among so many good ones.

Applying Strategically

Our applications continue to flow in at this time of year.  I haven’t seen any detailed information yet, but there are indications that our applicant numbers from outside Ontario are up significantly.  We’ll probably know more in a few weeks, but it seems likely that this year certainly won’t be any less competitive than last.  With competition for limited spaces, it pays to be strategic about your applications. Continue reading

The New Year Starts

Another year started with new classes and courses on January 3 (our Christmas break is shorter than high schools).  And our admissions season is ramping up quickly now too, with lots of applications flowing in.  Our new Architectural Engineering program seems to be attracting a reasonable number of applications so far, so I guess the word is getting out.

AIFs and interviews are starting to be submitted in increasing volumes and we are starting to review them.  Some people are asking when the AIF should be submitted by to be considered for the early round.  There isn’t really a good answer for that, because it depends on volumes and timelines that we can’t predict.  My suggestion is to get it submitted as soon as you can.  Putting it off doesn’t really gain anything, and every year some people forget to submit it and don’t get seriously considered.

Architectural Engineering is Here!!

The University of Waterloo recently approved the launch of a new program in Architectural Engineering for September 2018 (subject to approval by the Ontario Quality Council).  We will be looking to take in about 85 students in the fall, and we’re rapidly gearing up space and teaching resources.  The official announcement is here, and applications are now open!  Here are a few key points about the program and admissions for this coming Fall. Continue reading

Starting Up Admissions

In a previous post I gave an overview of how the 2018 admissions cycle would unfold.  Here is a quick update on where we are now and what’s happening.

  • The OUAC application centre has been open since October and some people have applied.  Most people apply sometime between now and February 1 (the final deadline).
  • Our Admissions Officers have started reviewing the 2,000+ applications from outside Ontario that we’ve received so far.  There seem to be a lot more than in previous years at this date, but we will have better information in a few weeks.
  • We will probably start sending out invitations to our optional video interview sometime in early to mid-December, to those who have applied.  Invitations will continue to be sent out in batches every few weeks, so if you apply and don’t get an invitation right away, just be patient.
  • We usually don’t start reviewing Admission Information Forms until January, when there are a decent number to work with.  In the meantime, we work on getting our systems updated and ready to go.

Behind the scenes we’re also working on an exciting program announcement that will be coming out within the next couple of weeks.  Once everything is ready to go, I’ll give more information and insights here on the blog.

All Offers are Final

One of our messages this year is to encourage engineering applicants to do their “homework” before applying, because we have no general first year.  This means carefully reflecting on your strengths and weaknesses, interests, aptitudes, career goals, etc.   Then carefully examining our different programs, courses, typical career paths, co-op job examples, etc., and selecting the program which seems to be the right fit.  Quite possibly, engineering is not the right fit and you should consider something else.  In general, people who put some effort into this process will end up in the right program and do well.  Why is this so important? Continue reading

Open House November 4 2017

Waterloo’s Fall Open House is coming up soon, on Saturday November 4.  Registration and other information is available online.

These open houses are a very important opportunity to find out more about different programs, curricula, co-op, career paths and various other aspects.  As I’ve noted before, you want to go into a program for all the right reasons and this is a chance to gather information and formulate those reasons.

It doesn’t even have to be Waterloo’s open house!  If you want to find out more about mechanical engineering (for example), your local university probably does something similar if Waterloo is too far away.  Educationally, most accredited engineering programs across North America have similar course content within the same discipline, so what you find out about Chemical Engineering education and careers at Ryerson University will be more or less similar for the universities of Waterloo, Toronto, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, British Columbia, etc.

At Waterloo (or anywhere else), some of the best people to talk to are the students.  They will give you their impressions about the program, examples of what they are doing or have done on co-op or internships, and information about student life.  Talk to more than one student however, since everyone has a different experience, background, and perspective.  Staff and faculty are good to talk to also, of course, since they can give a broader overview of things and have a longer-term connection with the program and its evolution.

New York STEM College Fair

On Sunday October 15 2017 we will be attending a STEM College Fair in New York City.  We are looking forward to the chance to meet some high school students and their parents, and to talk about Waterloo Engineering, co-op education, and studying in Canada.

At the same event last year, held on the campus of Columbia University, we were pleased to meet a number of parents that mentioned that they already knew something about Waterloo because their co-workers were alumni, or their company  hired our co-op students.  We had some interesting conversations with many others who didn’t know about Waterloo or had questions about studying in Canada.

If there are any blog readers from the New York area, Karyn  and I would be happy to meet you at the STEM College Fair.  We will also be around for a couple of days doing some engineering workshops at local high schools and meeting independent guidance counsellors, so anyone who wants to meet us but can’t attend the College Fair can always send us an email (assoc.dir.admissions.eng@uwaterloo.ca) and we’ll see if we can arrange something.

Ontario Universities Fair 2017

A crowd around the Engineering area of Waterloo’s booth.

As usual, the Ontario Universities Fair was a busy place last weekend as high school students and families talked to people from all the universities in Ontario gathered in the Toronto Convention Centre.  Here is a photo I snapped while taking a quick break from the crowd.  We had dozens of faculty, staff and current students there to answer questions about our programs.  There are always some common questions, so here are some of them with a quick answer. Continue reading