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.

Consider Geological Engineering

Waterloo has a Geological Engineering program that seems to get overlooked by many prospective applicants for some reason.  Maybe because it’s small, only about 25 to 30 available spaces.  Or maybe people just don’t realize what it’s about.  So I talked with the current director of the program, Prof. Stephen Evans, and he gave me some insights and nice photographs of geological engineering examples.  I’ll summarize a few key ideas about the Geological Engineering program:

  • It’s the intersection of civil engineering and earth science, and provides the ability to assess how the changing earth might affect the integrity and long term security of civil engineering structures and our societies.
  • There are a wide variety of jobs involving foundations for major buildings and structures, natural resource management (mining, hydroelectric, oil & gas), infrastructure construction and safety (dams, reservoirs, roads, railways), and managing geohazards (landslides, earthquakes, volcanoes).
  • It may be for you if you like travel, sustainable design, engineering to minimize natural hazard risks, and the interactions of infrastructure and nature.

Below are some pictures Prof. Evans has taken of geological engineering examples.  Several of these are from field trip locations our students have travelled to in past years.

 

 

More About Geological Engineering

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

No Fear Career Planning

Prof. Larry Smith is well-known around Waterloo for three things:  his engaging classes in Economics, his support for student entrepreneurs and start-ups, and his career advice for people.  A while ago I came across his book in an airport in Bermuda and decided to give it a read.  I found the book, “No Fears, No Excuses:  What You Need to do to Have a Great Career“, to be quite good.  It’s full of interesting anecdotes, insights and very practical advice based on his interactions with over 30,000 people.  His experience resonates with my more limited experiences with students and careers.  The book is easy to read, engaging, and I highly recommend it for anyone contemplating entering higher education or perhaps a career change.  Or at least have a look at his TEDxUW talk video that hits some of the highlights.  I’ll try to summarize a few of his key ideas here, especially the ones that relate to admissions. 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

Common American Questions

After attending some U.S. STEM college fairs and talking to lots of students and families, I’ve noticed that there are some common themes and questions that come up.  For all those who we weren’t able to meet, maybe it’s worthwhile summarising them here with our responses (as usual, these are specific to engineering, and it’s not just Americans that ask these questions). Continue reading

Houston STEM Fair

We will be in Houston, Texas for the NACAC STEM Fair on Sunday November 5 2017.  This is the last of this year’s College STEM fair schedule in the U.S., and we’re looking forward to meeting lots more high school students and families.  In past fairs I’ve met with a lot of sophomore and junior students who were checking out their options in various fields, and that’s very commendable.

We will probably be doing some more school outreach classes on engineering design, as I described in a previous post.  As always, if there are any students/families, or guidance counselors who want to meet us but can’t attend the fair event, we can schedule something else if you contact us at assoc.dir.admissions.eng@uwaterloo.ca