Submitting Your Admission Information Form 2017

Updated version of a past post for the 2017 admission cycle, as there have been a few small changes.

The Admission Information Form, or AIF, is the primary vehicle for applicants to tell us about themselves.  Our admission decisions are mainly based on grades, but the AIF information can help us distinguish between people who have similar grades, and we award up to 5  points onto the admission average for outstanding applicants.  Let’s go through the various parts of the AIF and see what is involved. 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

English Proficiency Requirements

For applicants whose first language is not English we have a set of proficiency requirements.  Details are on this website (English Language Requirements), but in summary we are looking for TOEFL scores of 90 and higher (with at least 25 Writing and Speaking), or IELTS scores of at least 6.5 overall (with 6.5 Writing and Speaking and 6.0  in other bands) (see that website for other test system requirements).  For Engineering admissions, we’ve been pretty strict about the scores and regularly reject people who don’t meet them (no matter what their other grades are like).  This is because our co-op work experience starts right away in first year, so we need students to be as fluent as possible so that they can have interviews, get jobs and have a successful work term with the employer.  There is no time to try to learn better English as you start our program.

Some universities have programs that you can sign up for to improve English proficiency.  We don’t, but in the last couple of years we have been testing a couple of special programs, called BASE and iBASE .  You can’t actually apply directly for these programs, they are by invitation only, and are for applicants to our engineering programs who have excellent academic credentials but come up short on the English proficiency tests.  So for these applicants, if they successfully complete the BASE or iBASE program they will be automatically enrolled in the engineering program they were aiming for.  Let’s look at these programs in a bit more detail. Continue reading

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.

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

Reviewing Results

After finishing the offers for the current cycle, we start to review the statistics to prepare material for the next (2016) cycle, including an update to the “probabilities table” like the one shown in a previous post and in our applicant information.  We have compiled the preliminary results from the 2015 cycle and these are shown below, where “Probability” is the percent of applicants with an admission average in the given grade range who received an offer to their first choice program.  These are raw admission averages, without any other bonus or factors.  The results show some surprising changes from what we have seen in the past and expected.   Continue reading

Admissions 2015: How it’s going to work

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

Chances for 2015

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

Admission Pressures

Many people are aware that the competition to get into engineering programs has been rising in recent years.  This is often seen in the rising admission averages required to get an offer, due to this increased level of competition.  Although many people acknowledge this, they may be surprised at some of the numbers so I’ve compiled some graphs to help visualize it.  First, let’s look at application numbers to engineering programs. Continue reading

Is IB Worth It?

I get asked whether the International Baccalaureate program is “worth it” every year, and it’s one of those questions with no obvious general answer.  Certainly the curriculum and expectations seem to be good preparation for university, from what we see on our side.  But whether the extra challenge, time commitments, cost etc. are “worth it” has to be more of an individual family decision.  For example, if you had to commute 2 hours a day to an IB school and give up your sports and part-time job, maybe that’s not “worth it”.  I don’t know.  I can point out that Waterloo Engineering (and most Canadian engineering schools as far as I’ve seen) does not grant credit for IB courses, so it won’t save you any time or money in university from that perspective.

However, the other common part of the question is this:  “if I do the IB program, will my chances for admission to Waterloo Engineering be compromised?”.  The assumption here is that the grades will be lower than they could have been in a regular high school program.  This question I can answer (to a certain extent), using an analysis of our admissions data as follows. Continue reading