The 2015 admission season is getting going, with various deadlines coming up. First is the Ontario applicant deadline (January 14), followed by the out-of-province deadline (around March 1). (Just a note, the January 14 deadline is not really a deadline, more like a recommendation as far as we are concerned; if you miss it there is no particular effect.)
When it comes to applying to Waterloo Engineering, this is the first hard part, i.e. picking the program you want to apply to (since we don’t have a general first year). I’ve posted stuff about this in past years (see here, and here), so this post just contains a few additional ideas. This is quite important however. You don’t want to end up in a program you don’t really like. While it is technically possible to switch programs, in recent years it has often become more difficult because of capacity limits in many programs, and there have been people looking to switch who couldn’t.
Let me summarize my ideas and observations in two categories: good and bad reasons to pick a certain engineering program (the specific program doesn’t matter, so I’ll leave it blank).
Good Reasons to Pick ____ Engineering:
- You’ve spent some time searching websites and finding out all you can about various engineering disciplines (e.g. mechanical, chemical, electrical,…). You’ve read all about them, found out about typical jobs, career paths, common industries and locations of jobs, typical responsibilities, etc., and there are one or two that make you think “that looks interesting”, or “I would like to do something like that”.
- You’ve looked at university calendars and course descriptions for the program(s) you seem most interested in. Many of the courses in that program look interesting, or make you curious about the content (especially the 3rd and 4th year courses, which are typically the more “practical/applied” ones). You feel like you would like to take those courses. Recognizing that university calendars are somewhat difficult to navigate if you haven’t had much experience with them, let me provide links to Waterloo’s:
- You’ve met or discussed engineering with a relative, family friend, or other contact who is an engineer or knows a lot about it. Or you’ve connected with one of our current students through our Shadow Day/Ambassadors program or at one of our open house events. Based on these discussions, you feel good and excited about your selection.
Bad Reasons for Choosing _____ Engineering:
These are based on conversations with students who end up wanting to switch programs. Sometimes they are disappointed to discover that switching is not an option because of space constraints.
- You didn’t really look into it all that much, and just quickly picked one at random to meet the deadline. (Really, if you’re in this situation please pick another university with a general first year.)
- You heard from (family, friends, etc.) that this is the “best” engineering to go into, for various reasons, so you just follow their advice. (You won’t think it’s the “best” if you discover you don’t have much interest in it!)
- You heard that this is the hardest/most challenging engineering, so it must be the best. (I don’t agree that any particular engineering discipline is “harder” than another; it all comes down to interest and aptitude of the individual.)
- You heard that this is the easiest engineering. (If you’re looking for an easy degree, perhaps consider choosing another path, since you’re likely going to be disappointed.)
- This program was the most competitive/selective to get into. (Competition for admission all comes down to supply and demand, and has nothing to do with quality or career prospects. If a competitive program suddenly had a lot more spaces, or a lot fewer applicants, it wouldn’t be very competitive any more.)
- You didn’t realize that you would be required to take courses in _____ (various subjects) and you hate that stuff. (That’s why you should look at the program courses in the university calendar.)
That’s about it, so before you make that application decision think about your rationale for the program choice. Hopefully it falls into the “Good Reasons” category somewhere.