The fall is University Rankings season, as a bunch get released each year. Alex Usher has a nice blog post that summarizes the major ones and what they include. I’ve written posts about rankings in the past, which you can find using the search function if you wish. In general, for high school student applicants I usually suggest that they be very careful about putting too much weight on these rankings, for various reasons discussed before and illustrated below. Continue reading
Usually, when Canadians speak of “Canada vs. U.S.” here it is with reference to a hockey series. However, in celebration of Canada Day (July 1) and Independence Day (July 4) holidays, here I’m going to point out a few differences in terminology and other things that you might run across when looking at engineering programs at Canadian and U.S. post-secondary institutions. (these are based on my observations, and there will be exceptions of course, because this is a huge and complex topic) Continue reading
Here is an update on past years’ very popular post, with some revisions and clarification for the upcoming September 2015 admissions cycle.
Here is an overview on how the process is going to work 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
Here is an updated version of a post I’ve been creating for several years.
The 2015 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. In the graphic below is a copy of the latest version. This is based on the 2014 results and as usual we caution that 2015 may be different, since it all depends on the competition level (which is unknown in advance). In 2014 the level of competition went up quite a bit, as illustrated in a previous post. Maybe it will go down in 2015, since we know that’s the general direction of the demographics in Ontario, but we’ll see. Continue reading
Here’s an updated re-post from 2013, which might be useful.
When people apply to Waterloo Engineering, they apply to the program of most interest but can also identify a second and third choice on their AIF. That way, if they are not quite competitive for the 1st choice, we can still consider them for one of the other two. We assume that the choices are ranked in descending order of preference, so we try to get the 2nd choice if possible, then the 3rd. Typically around 300 to 350 people get one of these alternate offers to their 2nd or 3rd choice (not a target, just a typical number each year). Some people are quite happy with their alternate offer. Others, not so much. Those holding an alternate offer will have to decide what to do with it, so here are a few questions that commonly come up. Continue reading
With application deadlines approaching, some people will be struggling with the decision of which engineering program to apply to. I had a post on this topic last year, and here are some additional thoughts. As a reminder, Waterloo engineering has direct entry to a specific engineering discipline, so you have to pick one of our 13 programs for your application choice. For those who don’t know where to start, last year I recommended our Quiz for some initial choices, and I still recommend it. However, it doesn’t currently include our new Biomedical Engineering program, so you have to keep that in mind.
With our quiz results or other ideas in mind, you should do some serious research to see which program catches your interest the best. There are plenty of online things to look at, and Google or Bing will help you find it. One that I recently remembered is the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics site. It has some interesting information on the nature of various engineering jobs. Be careful on putting too much faith in their projections and forecasts however.
Some other ideas:
- Students at Waterloo will be more engaged with their program and classmates if they are relatively sure and committed to their program. If after doing some serious research and thought about different programs you still can’t decide at all, then certainly consider a university with a general engineering entrance program. Then you can postpone deciding for a little while. There are lots around Ontario, including Queen’s, McMaster, and Western, for example. Other universities offer direct entry as well as an undecided/undeclared option, including Ryerson, Guelph, Windsor and York, for example. Toronto has the “TrackOne” program which is a general first year. Toronto’s Engineering Science is sort of a general first year too, since it looks like about 33% of the students move into other disciplines in 2nd year.
- In spite of what I say in the above point, you don’t have to be 100% sure about your choice. It’s normal to be somewhat uncertain. But you should have some level of comfort and knowledge about the program you’ve picked, and why you are picking it.
- There are potentially bad reasons to pick a program, including: 1) it’s the most competitive for admission; 2) family/friends say it’s the “best”; 3) some website says it’s the best paid, or has the best career prospects. These are bad reasons, especially if your interests and aptitude don’t align with the choice. Imagine sitting in classes where everyone else is keen on the material and projects, and you’re not. It’s probably not going to go well. Every year we get a few of these cases. Sometimes we can help them switch programs, but sometimes it goes so badly that they have to leave the university. We would prefer to avoid this problem as much as possible.
- Always remember that career paths can be very flexible, and choosing a specific discipline does not lock you into a specific career for the rest of your life. Many engineering graduates eventually go into management careers, where the discipline-specific technical knowledge is less important anyways.
- There is a lot of overlap between various disciplines, so it is not critical that you pick the “right” one. If you pick one that you feel some affinity for, you’ll probably be fine no matter how your interests may shift over the coming years. You should expect (and want) to continue learning new things throughout your career.
- There is no such thing as the “best” program.
During first year engineering, a number of students will come to realize that they are struggling in one or more courses. This will be shocking and confusing to them, because they have probably never experienced it before. They have probably never had to ask for help before either. It is never our intention to “weed out” a bunch of students (that would be a waste of our time and resources), so we try to provide a lot of avenues for student support, especially in that crucial first year. Students just need to take the initiative and seek out the help that is available (since we often can’t tell who is struggling until it’s too late). Here is a brief overview of various ways to access help. Continue reading
Choosing a university and program is an important task, and one useful tool is a visit to campus, if possible. As my colleague Prof. Stubley has said, you should pick a campus where you can see yourself belonging; you’re more likely to be successful there. So coming to campus and looking around, and meeting some faculty, staff, and students will help determine if you get that feeling or not. We have a variety of ways and times for visiting.
Although Grade 12 English (or something equivalent) is one of our admission requirements, we sometimes get applicants who question what it’s good for, and why should it hurt their chances of admission if they got low marks in that subject. After all, engineering is just about physics, calculus, problem-solving, writing code, designing bridges and other hardware, …, isn’t it? Continue reading
I came across these examples of admissions essays at Johns Hopkins University a while ago: http://apply.jhu.edu/apply/essays.html
They are interesting, engaging, witty, nicely written. But frankly, I’m glad we don’t make our applicants submit essays. I think I much prefer our Admission Information Form. Much more brief, to the point, quicker to read (sort of what an engineering report should be).
I know from other reading that there are various concerns with these college admission essays. How much of it is the work of the applicant, versus parents or admissions consultants? Was it purchased or plagiarised from somewhere? (There is a Turnitin for Admissions service that some universities use to check for that.) Does a good essay translate into a good engineering student? Lots of questions, and not so many answers.
Some of our applicants complain about having to fill out our AIF. I suspect that they would like submitting an essay even less.