Admissions 2018: How it’s going to work

An updated version of this popular post, with some revisions  for the upcoming September 2018 admissions cycle. 

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 2018

To start the new academic year and next admission cycle, the 2018 Admissions brochures for Engineering and other programs have recently been uploaded on the Waterloo website.  We continue to include a table showing admission probabilities (“chances”) for different programs and grade ranges (at the end of the brochure, and another online version is available here).  Many people find it useful for assessing  their chances at admission, and  then they can plan accordingly and have realistic expectations.   This is based on the 2017 results and as usual we caution that 2018 may be different, since it all depends on the number of applicants (which is unknown in advance and can fluctuate).

For convenience and readability in a table, we lump the grades into ranges.  Some people find the big jumps in probability between the different grade ranges to be difficult to understand or interpret, so I have been generating graphs that provide interpolations between the various grades in finer detail (see the end of the post for methodology, if interested).  As usual, the grades shown below are the raw, unadjusted averages of the Grade 12 required courses (or equivalents), not including any other factors such as scores for extracurriculars, work experience, or awards. Continue reading

Synopsis

It’s been quite a while since last posting, as various higher priority things arose, such as managing the admissions process, teaching various courses, and directing several larger research projects.  Things are still quite busy, but there is time for a quick overview of what’s happened as we gear up for the next admission cycle for September 2018.

For the 2017 cycle just finished, in very rough numbers…

  • we had around 12,500 applicants for our 1,600 spaces in Engineering.  That was a couple of hundred more than last year.
  • we had a significant rise in applications from people in the U.S., possibly because of our increasing presence there by alumni, co-op students, and other friends of the university?
  • our estimates worked out well and the programs were filled to capacity.
  • as in previous years, Biomedical and Software Engineering were highly competitive, and the rest not too far behind.  I’ll work on a new “chances” post for the fall, but there probably aren’t going to be very big differences from the Chances 2017 version.
  • as always, picking a few applicants from among so many good ones continued to be challenging.  As an indication, over 3,000 applicants with 90+% averages did not receive an offer to any engineering program.  Unfortunately we just don’t have enough facilities, space, faculty and staff to take any more.

There are lots of other interesting (hopefully?) things I plan to post in the coming weeks and months about admissions, research, our students, and engineering in general.

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.

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

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

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.

Admission Myths and Misconceptions

There are always a few myths and misunderstandings we encounter when talking to applicants.  Here are a few of the most common ones.  As usual, these items are specific to Waterloo Engineering, and other programs or universities may be different.

  1. Waterloo should be ranked #1 on the OUAC application to be seriously considered.  No, it really doesn’t matter at all to us how you rank us.  We’ve sent offers to people who ranked us as #15 or 20 in past years (why do people apply to that many places!?).  The ranking is just used for statistical and predictive purposes.  Our philosophy is that if you applied and paid the fees, you deserve serious consideration like everyone else.
  2. You need a 95% average to get an offer.  That would help, of course, but most of our programs do have lots of people admitted with averages less than 95%.
  3. We have a quota for female admissions.  Wrong.  We (and the engineering profession in general) certainly encourage female interest and participation in engineering, but gender is not used for admission decisions.  In my opinion that would violate the spirit of human rights legislation.
  4. We have a quota for Ontario residents.  No, there are no reserved spaces for Ontario applicants.  Our spaces are open for Canadians and Permanent Residents of Canada, no matter where they are coming from.
  5. We have a quota for non-Canadians.  Actually this is true, not a myth.  We have only about 210 spaces in Engineering for “visa students”, and the rest (about 1,350) are reserved for Canadians (or Permanent Residents).
  6. Visa students are taking away spaces from Canadians.  No, not at Waterloo.  Those 210 spaces are not government-funded, so if we didn’t fill them with visa students, then they wouldn’t be available to anyone at all.  Visa students are charged much higher tuition fees to make up for the fact that there is no government funding to support those spaces and associated costs.
  7. People can apply for early admission.  No, there is no early admission application process.  People just apply, and we might decide to send a few of them offers in March (which is “early” for us).  Most offers go out in May.
  8. People apply with their “top 6” grades.  No, you just apply and we receive all your grades electronically (from Ontario schools, universities, and CEGEP), or you arrange for your transcript to be sent to us.  There is no need (or ability) to select certain grades for us.  We will pick out what we want.
  9. The admission average is based on the “top 6” grades.  For us, “top 6” is somewhat of a misnomer.  For Ontario applicants, the admission average is based on the 5 required Grade 12 courses plus the highest other 4U/M course.  It’s possible that those 5 required courses are not your “top” grades.  Also, a number of other school systems don’t have 6 courses in the admission requirements, so “top 6” doesn’t apply to them.
  10. The timing of when you submit your application can affect your chances.  No, our systems are set up to ensure everyone has a fair review and chance at admission by the time the final set of offers come out in May.  As long as you meet the deadlines and submit the required stuff, your application will be given equal consideration like all the others.