During our last round of offers in May, we also decide on entrance scholarship awards based on a combination of grades and the AIF score. (These are separate from the $1000 Merit and $2000 President’s scholarships that are automatically awarded based on admission averages over 85%. Almost all Engineering students get these.) Our engineering entrance scholarships range in value from $1,000 to $20,000, but the majority are around $3,500. Some are from the university, but many are gifts from alumni, companies, and other donors (thanks!). In total, there around 200 spread among the 1500 students that come in September, so I suppose the odds of getting one are about 15%. For those comparing offers, here are a few observations about entrance scholarships, at Waterloo and in general.
- Our surveys seem to indicate that we give out more scholarships than other universities, but the values may be smaller. It’s hard to pick out a handful of students (from among many excellent ones) and give them a massive scholarship, so why not give more people a smaller award? I think that has been our philosophy over the years.
- Since co-op employment starts in first year at Waterloo, getting a big scholarship seems to be less important, according to student surveys.
- When comparing scholarship offers, watch out for the fine print! Most of our scholarships are one-time awards with no conditions. However, many of the large scholarships at other universities (and a few of ours) are spread over 4 years and require you to maintain a certain average (often 80%). To a high school student getting 90’s this sounds easy, but in fact it is not. An 80+ average represents the top 1/4 to 1/3 of a university class, where everyone else was also a high achieving high school student. I don’t have any good statistics, but I understand that a significant fraction of these scholarship holders never get the full value because they miss the minimum grade at some point over the 4 years.
- At Waterloo, there will be upper year scholarships that you can apply for. There is a website listing these. Sometimes not many students apply, so the odds can be quite good if you meet the minimum criteria.
- Scholarships to U.S. colleges will often look much bigger and better than ours, but their tuition and other fees may also be much higher. This may be part of a marketing strategy known as “tuition discounting”, and it is not so common in Canada. Make sure you consider the total financial picture.
- Perhaps you got a big scholarship at another university but not at Waterloo, and want to know if we will match it. I’ll save you a phone call. We won’t. We have certain resources to work with, and that’s all there is.
- Financial aid (like bursaries and OSAP) is a whole other topic, and I don’t know anything about it, so I’ll just leave a few links: OSAP Bursaries