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.

Admissions 2016: How it’s going to work

We are getting ready for our first major Open House event on November 7, and that reminds me that I should do an update on this popular post, with some revisions and clarification for the upcoming September 2016 admissions cycle.  No major changes from last year.

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 2016

As frequently requested, here is an updated version of a popular post.

The 2016 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.  It seems that many people find it useful for getting a realistic impression of their chances at admission, so that they can plan accordingly.   The online version of this table can be found here.  This is based on the 2015 results and as usual we caution that 2016 may be different, since it all depends on the competition level (which is unknown in advance).  In 2015 the level of competition continued to increase, but maybe it will go down in 2016, since we know that’s the general direction of the demographics in Ontario. Continue reading

Decision Time

We are approaching the June 1 2015 (midnight) deadline to accept the offers we have sent out this cycle.  Quite a few have already accepted, but others are maybe still weighing their options.  A couple of years ago I posted a decision matrix method that is sometimes used by engineers and others to compare options in a somewhat objective way.  Might be worth a look.

Probably the most difficult decision scenario is for those who got an offer to an alternative program, or whose interests have recently changed to another program.  Perhaps they are thinking about accepting the offer, then going for a transfer to the program of more interest.  Our general advice:  do not accept your Waterloo Engineering offer if you do not think that you will be happy with that program!!  You cannot count on a transfer happening, due to a variety of issues including lack of space.  It’s impossible to say for certain, but here are some projections for transfers between programs based on recent years and space availability.

Very unlikely:  transfers into Software, Biomedical, Systems Design, Mechatronics, Nanotechnology.  Space is tight, and a lot of people want to transfer  to these.

Might be possible:  transfers into Chemical, Computer, Electrical, Mechanical, but depends from year to year on space.

Often possible:  transfers into Civil, Environmental, Geological, Management.  These have a little bit more flexibility for space.

For those who have already inquired about switching programs, we will start looking at that in mid-June once we can see what the exact space situation is like.

First Rounds of Offers for 2015

We just finished processing our first round of offers for applicants who are Ontario high school students. These should be appearing via Quest, OUAC and email.  As usual, we made enough offers to fill up to 1/3 of our available spaces in each program (more specifically, those spaces reserved for Canadians and Permanent Residents).  These are applications where we have enough data and it’s clear that they are competitive, based on previous experience.  We’ll be processing some non-Ontario applicant offers in the next few weeks (these take a lot more effort to analyze and sort through).

Some universities give out a lot more earlier offers for Engineering, but that’s simply because they have a lot less competition for spaces and can just go ahead with whatever they have. Continue reading