Considering an Alternate Offer

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.  This year, about 300 people got one of these alternate offers to their 2nd or 3rd choice (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.

  1. Can I switch my offer back to my first choice?  Not at present.  All of our spaces are committed, so switching around is not feasible.  After the acceptance deadline in early June, we will see how the numbers turned out and if there are any available spaces.
  2. If my friend declines their offer, can I have their space?  No.  We expect a bunch of people to decline their offers, so we have already admitted extra people to make up for it.  If our estimates are right, in June we will have exactly the correct number of people in each program to match the available spaces.
  3. Can I change programs in June/July/August or early September?  Maybe, or maybe not.  From June through early September we will consider program switch requests.  But success depends entirely on the number of available spaces.  For popular programs, there will be a lot of people trying to switch in, so there will again be competition.
  4. How likely is it that I can switch programs?  It’s impossible to predict before the acceptances are finalized in June.  Some years we overshoot the target for certain programs, so no switches into that program are possible at all.  Sometimes there are 5 or 10 spaces open.  There are often a lot of people wanting to switch into Mechatronics or Software Engineering, so competition will be tough even if there are some spaces.
  5. Should I accept my alternate offer, even if I don’t think I will like it?  Probably not.  Although a switch might be possible, you should only accept an alternate if you are willing to live with it throughout your university career.  If you got a better offer from another university, maybe that’s the route to go.
  6. If I can’t switch, are there other opportunities to learn stuff in my first choice program?  Yes!  If you were looking for Mechatronics or Software Engineering but got another program, you can still consider completing the Mechatronics or Software Engineering Option.  This is a package of courses (sort of like a “Minor”) that students in other programs can take, and will be formally recognized on their transcript and diploma.  The official details are in the university course calendar.  Most programs let their students take a few elective courses from other programs, even if it is not a formal “Option”.  Also, for co-op work experience there is nothing to prevent students from applying to jobs in other disciplines; you just have to make your case in your cover letter and resume and convince the employer .  It’s not unusual to have mechanical students do mechatronics jobs, and vice versa (for example).  There are many other examples of overlaps between programs.

25 thoughts on “Considering an Alternate Offer

  1. An Electrical or Computer Engineering program with an option in Mechatronics or in Software Engineering is an excellent way to enter either one of those fields. Being from ECE, I am biased, but you can check out the course requirements to see for yourself.

  2. If i was denied an offer of admission on quest, does that mean the alternate choice on the AIF are denied as well?

  3. Thank you so much for this post. I would like to ask you, how hard is it to switch from one faculty to another? For example, from the arts faculty to the mathematics or engineering faculty? Keeping in mind that I have all the necessary high school prerequisites?

    • Switching from arts to engineering is quite possible if you have the prerequisites (with adequate grades) and do well in your university courses. Of course, you’ll be starting over in first year engineering.

  4. As someone applying this winter, What type of Extra Curriculars does the Falculty of Engineering look for? Does the faculty value leadership EC’s over Math/Science/Programming contests?
    How much does having a part-time job help?

    • Part-time jobs (or summer jobs) are good resume builders that will help with finding co-op jobs. As for other ECs, there is no real preference. You should do what interests you. Probably I’ll post more about this next fall.

  5. What was the admission average for management engineering? What was the ratio of acceptance for management engineering?

    Also, is it possible to appeal your rejection to Waterloo engineering?

    • We haven’t had time to compile much data on averages, etc., so I can’t really answer that in a meaningful way. Probably in June or July we will finalize the stats.
      We don’t have a formal appeal mechanism, but if there is some reason to believe that a mistake has occurred you can contact us and we will look into it, although that’s relatively rare.

      • Given that we are past July, 2013 that you mentioned above, could you please indicate what the final stats were for management engineering last year? What was the final admission average and what was the ratio of acceptance into that program? thanks

  6. Is it easier to switch engineering programs from within the University of Waterloo than trying to transfer into it from another engineering program at another university? Would both kinds of students be equally considered by checking if their averages would have been competitive for that program or are current University of Waterloo engineering students given preference?


    • That depends. Civil is often pretty full, so space may be a problem. For course similarity, switching after 1A is not too bad, but after 1B is more difficult because there will be missing courses (Statics & Solid Mechanics, and Earth Engineering). See the post on switching too.

  7. Pingback: How our wait list works | A Professor in Waterloo Engineering

  8. My daughter have applied to 3 different programs (3 choices) at Waterloo. If I get selected for the program that needs highest percentage, will I also get offers for my next 2 choices??

    • It depends on what you mean. If they are 3 completely different programs (for example, one in Engineering, Mathematics, and Science), then it is possible that there could be 3 offers. The programs in different Faculties operate independently when giving offers. If it is an Engineering program, with 2 alternate engineering programs identified on the Admission Information Form, then no. Engineering only gives out one offer per applicant.


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