Why No Early Engineering Offer?

Last week (week of February 19th 2013) we finished processing our first round of offers for applicants who are Ontario high school students.  Some of the processes were described in an earlier post, How to Get an Early Offer.  But to summarize, we took the data we had at that point and made enough offers to fill about 1/3 of our available spaces in each program.  These are applications where we have enough data and it’s clear that they are competitive, based on previous years experience.  We are relatively conservative and don’t give out too many offers, since we want to leave lots of spaces for a fair competition in the final round in May.  Some universities give out a lot more offers and earlier, but that’s simply a matter of less competition and so they have that flexibility.

So now there are several thousand applicants wondering why they didn’t get an early offer and comparing notes with others who perhaps did.  My advice is to not spend much time worrying about it.  From an applicant’s perspective, the decisions will possibly appear to be somewhat random and irrational.  To us, the decisions are quite reasonable because we can see all the data put together in context, but you’ll just have to take our word for it.  There are several reasons why an early offer wouldn’t be made in this round, and I’ll summarize them here:

  1. You are not an Ontario high school student (OUAC Form 101 applicant).  If you applied on Form 105, we haven’t made any offers to that group yet but will in the coming weeks.
  2. No AIF was submitted by the time we started assembling the decision data.  If an AIF wasn’t submitted, we skipped it.  Some applicants may want to check that they actually clicked on “Submit”, and not just “Save” for their AIF.
  3. Missing or inadequate English proficiency information, either a test score (e.g. TOEFL) or proof of English language schooling outside of Ontario.  We skip these too.
  4. Inadequate Grade 12 grade data.  We usually like to see at least 3 Grade 12 required course marks, although sometimes 2 are OK if the Grade 11 courses are very strong.  Also, some grades may not have reached us in time for this round.  In a small fraction of the applications there are missing grades when we make the early decisions because of the timing of data uploads and downloads from OUAC.  This can result in what seems like “random” offer decisions.  The grades that an applicant knows they have, and what we actually can see at a specific point in time can be different.
  5. The AIF was submitted but not yet scored when decisions were processed.  We score as many as we can before starting decisions, but it’s not feasible to wait until they are all scored.  So for some applicants, they wouldn’t be getting the full bonus from the AIF score during the early round of offers.  However, they will all be scored before the final round of offers.
  6. The grades and scores are just not in the top 1/3 of applicants to that program at this point in time.  When we get down to the bottom end of the top 1/3, there are so many applicants with similar grades that a fraction of a percent can make the difference between an early offer and not.  You’ll probably get an offer in May if you’re in that situation.

For those who did get an early offer, congratulations, but keep working hard because your scholarships depend on the grades we get in late April.  For those who didn’t get an early offer, keep working hard too because there are still plenty of offers to come in May.

46 thoughts on “Why No Early Engineering Offer?

  1. Hi, are the entrance scholarships based on the average submitted in April or the final average? Say I have a 90 average in April, but I dropped to 89 for the final. Would i still get the scholarship? Thank you!

  2. Hi, are there going to be more waves of acceptances through the months before May, or was this last wave was the final wave before May?

  3. What type of activities/accomplishments would be impressive to AIF readers? What type of AIF would receive a score of 5?


    • It’s hard to say specifically, because they look at the total picture and it’s relative to all other applicants to Waterloo Engineering. In general, anything that demonstrates dedication or committment, leadership, initiative, physical or techical skill, interpersonal and/or communication skills, recognition by others, for example. A score of 5 is relatively rare, and would typically indicate someone with recognized accomplishments at a national or international level.

  4. When completing the AIF, there was a section for alternate engineering choices / computer science. Are those choices considered for acceptance at the same time as the main application? Or are those considered if the main application has been declined?

      • Through OUAC I’ve been able to select and submit three choices:
        1. WSO Software Engineering Co-op
        2. WCS Computer Science co-op and regular
        3. WBC Double degree co-op Business Admin (Laurier) and Computer Science (Waterloo)
        Through Quest main page, I can see the OUAC Waterloo choices mentioned above with the choice numbers indicated, but under Quest / AIF / Engineering / Alternative choices, I am not able to select anything other than “Computer Engineering” or “Mecatronics”, etc., and I would like to make sure that my first choice is WSO, then alternatives are: WCS and WBC.

      • On Quest/AIF you can only pick Engineering alternative choices, and these will be considered if you are not offered WSO (software eng). The WCS and WBC are separate applications, and are treated independently from Engineering, not as alternatives. You could theoretically get offers to all three (but only one Engineering program).

      • Thank you very much for your email. I just want to confirm that I understood your reply.  As per the Quest images attached bellow, I should expect three offers if I am very successful: from WSO (if not, then from CE or Mecatronics), WCS and WBC, since WCS and WBC are also primary choices due to the way I applied through OUAC. You mentioned that WCS and WBC are separate applications. Does this means that I should submit the second and the third AIF under separate log-in to Quest?

  5. Thank you for the article, it’s very helpful to have an insight in to the admissions process. Do you happen to know what the expected cutoff is going to be for Software Engineering this year? (Excluding AIF scores of course)

      • Makes sense, just one more question. I read your article on summer school course marks not being altered, and was wondering if any Advanced Placement course marks are inflated, or even contribute to a better AIF score? Thanks.

  6. Hello,

    Around what time should international students expect a response, given that all the documents were turned in January.

    Thank You

    • Applicants from outside Ontario will start to see offers by the middle of March, but the majority of decisions won’t come out until early May when all the decisions are finalized.

  7. Thank you for your informative blog, I have 2 questions please.
    Since I have applied and have not had a response yet, I realize I must wait until early May. I am an Ontario student and I have also applied to schools in the United States. The universities in the states require you to accept their offers by May 1. Any advice on this scenario please.
    Also do you make decisions based on OUAC choice number, does it make a difference if it was first, third, or etc. ?

  8. Does waterloo admissions order the students from highest to lowest admission average (including school and AIF adjustments) and then select students from the top of the list until the class size is met? If such a system is used, how would offers be given to students with similar admission averages? For example, if there is only one spot left and 5 possible candidates all have averages +- 0.3% and their AIF scores were similar as well, how would admissions decide?

    • Yes, the ranking process you describe is how it works. For the last few spots where a bunch of applicants have similar scores it becomes more “individual selection” as we say in previous years’ brochures. A variety of things could sway a decision, but generally we look for a very high AIF score, or participation in enriched courses (like IB or AP), or strong physics and calculus grades (since those are key courses), or consistently good marks across Grade 11 and 12, or some combination of all this.

      • Thanks for the informative reply. I have just one more question; if you don’t mind me asking, what was the lowest admission average after adjustments last year for SE and CE?

  9. Hi. I was wondering whether we have the same amount of competition between our first choice and alternative choice program. What I mean is if I applied to SE, and I do not make it, do I have the same opportunity to compete for my secondary choice of Computer Engineering? Won’t all the space for CE already be filled by the time it is determined I am not good enough for admission to SE?
    Also,I am having a really hard time deciding between CS and SE. I feel that engineering comes with more of a name but at the end of the day ,I feel I can reach the same goal from either path. I feel I am a better fit for CS but due to the lower reputation of CS, I feel my opportunities will be less and I will not be looked at the same way as a SE with similar courses and experience. Please let me know what you think.

    • Yes, the same opportunities exist for your primary and alternate choices. We don’t give away all the spaces without considering the alternates too, and use an iterative process to cycle through applicants to ensure everyone has had a fair chance at their choices.

      Choosing between CS and SE can be difficult. The comments by Prof. Lam on my other post are good to consider, since he’s the expert (I’m a chemical engineer). I wouldn’t say one has a better reputation than the other.

  10. I am wondering if any international applicants got any early admission in Chemical Engineering yet. I have a few friends (international applicants) who have perfect academic records but did not get early admission decisions yet from Chemical Engineering or any other engineering programs. Do we international students have to wait till May to hear the admission decisions?

    • Some international offers have gone out for our engineering programs, but we are still working through thousands of documents. Most applicants (international and otherwise) will have to wait until May while we do all the evaluations and comparisons.

  11. i am applying for system design engineering but also would like to open an option for Accounting and finance at same university at Waterloo, Should i do separate application or else if i get in system design i wont get an offer for 2nd option

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