Choosing a university and program is an important task, and one useful tool is a visit to campus, if possible. As my colleague Prof. Stubley has said, you should pick a campus where you can see yourself belonging; you’re more likely to be successful there. So coming to campus and looking around, and meeting some faculty, staff, and students will help determine if you get that feeling or not. We have a variety of ways and times for visiting.
We have two major open house events. One in the fall (Fall Open House, November 2 this year) and one during the high school March break (March Break Open House, date to be determined). The Fall event is geared towards helping prospective applicants figure out if Waterloo is for them, and which program might be the best fit. The March event is partly aimed at admitted students, but is also for those who didn’t have a chance to visit earlier or haven’t received an admission decision yet. I like the Fall event, because the weather is usually nicer than in March, but both events are designed to be as helpful as possible. Our current students play a big role in both events, leading tours, talking with visitors, discussing their experiences in school and on co-op work terms. They are probably your best resource for gathering information on the “feeling” of the campus and program.
We used to have a couple of specific days when high school students could come to campus and spend time in classes with our students. We replaced those with something better, our Engineering Shadow Program. Run with the assistance of a large number of Engineering Student Ambassadors, you can set up a day that is convenient and pick an Ambassador from the program you might be most interested in. You go to class with them, maybe have lunch, get all your questions answered. You can continue communicating with them by email too, in case new questions arise. It’s almost like having a personal inside connection to Waterloo Engineering. We’ve had an enthusiastic response from our Student Ambassadors too, and you’ll meet some if you come to one of the Open Houses. (It’s useful to read their profiles on our website. Many had the same questions and concerns when they were in high school, so see how it turned out.)
If the Open Houses or Shadow Program are not convenient, you can actually visit campus any time you want (within reason). You can book a campus or Engineering tour in advance on our website. Or drop into the Visitors Centre. (It’s better to book tours ahead however, for the best experience.) If you need specific help or advice with admissions, the staff can help arrange an appointment with the right person.
If you are living far away from Waterloo, making a visit may not be very feasible. So, they have created a virtual tour that is pretty good for looking around at buildings. There is also a slide show that captures some of the feeling. If you like videos, there is a Youtube channel with a variety that explain co-op, why people chose their program, and various other topics.
So, a variety of ways to visit and/or look around.