One of the best ways to find out about a university and its programs is to meet and talk to the people that are experiencing it every day. This includes our faculty, who can give broad and experienced insight into curriculum, careers, and the engineering profession. But many applicants find it easier and more interesting (sorry faculty!) to talk to current students, who were applicants themselves just a few months or years ago. There are several ways for people to connect with our current students.
For those who can make it to the campus in Waterloo, we have a couple of “open house” events in November and March (details here). At these you can attend presentations, tour campus, and meet faculty and students from all the engineering programs. Admissions staff are also available to answer questions. These are large and busy events, but a good way to see a variety of programs in Engineering and the other faculties.
If those open house days are not convenient, you can visit Waterloo anytime and still get campus tours and meet with people, just by booking ahead (preferably) at our Visitor Centre (details). The tours are led by current students who can talk about their experiences. I’ve talked to parents who went on these tours, and they are always enthusiastic about how helpful and honestly informative they were.
For current Grade 12 students who can travel to Waterloo, we have an “Engineering Shadow Day” program, where you can meet up with a current student/mentor and be an engineering student for a day. You can go to some classes and tutorials (in a program of interest), meet other students, tour the campus, have lunch, etc. This visit can be arranged at any time during the regular academic term, by filling out a request at this site (where there are lots of other details for high school students and parents).
For the many potential applicants who can’t physically make it to Waterloo, we have some helpful online resources. There’s a virtual tour where you can look around the campus. (According to the pictures I looked at in this tour, it never rains or snows in Waterloo!). There is also an “experience waterloo” site with links to student bloggers who write about their own situations.
Another interesting resource are our new Engineering Student Ambassador Profiles. These are quite fascinating to read. There are a wide variety of engineering programs represented here, but also a wide variety of student interests, motivations, backgrounds and experiences. For prospective applicants, it is well worth your time to go through these, because you’re likely to find someone with similar interests or background; a sort of role model perhaps. It may help with deciding on a program, as well as giving some insights into the things you could do at Waterloo (which go far beyond just engineering classes).
The other unique feature is that these student volunteers are available for questions or requests for further information. This is even better than a single day visit, since new questions will likely arise over the course of several months while application and admission decisions are in progress.
So, several ways to meet students at Waterloo. I like talking to our students; they’re an amazing group with interesting stories to share. If you’re an applicant, give it a try and I’m sure it will help you decide if Waterloo Engineering is the right place for you.