Decision Time

We are approaching the June 1 2015 (midnight) deadline to accept the offers we have sent out this cycle.  Quite a few have already accepted, but others are maybe still weighing their options.  A couple of years ago I posted a decision matrix method that is sometimes used by engineers and others to compare options in a somewhat objective way.  Might be worth a look.

Probably the most difficult decision scenario is for those who got an offer to an alternative program, or whose interests have recently changed to another program.  Perhaps they are thinking about accepting the offer, then going for a transfer to the program of more interest.  Our general advice:  do not accept your Waterloo Engineering offer if you do not think that you will be happy with that program!!  You cannot count on a transfer happening, due to a variety of issues including lack of space.  It’s impossible to say for certain, but here are some projections for transfers between programs based on recent years and space availability.

Very unlikely:  transfers into Software, Biomedical, Systems Design, Mechatronics, Nanotechnology.  Space is tight, and a lot of people want to transfer  to these.

Might be possible:  transfers into Chemical, Computer, Electrical, Mechanical, but depends from year to year on space.

Often possible:  transfers into Civil, Environmental, Geological, Management.  These have a little bit more flexibility for space.

For those who have already inquired about switching programs, we will start looking at that in mid-June once we can see what the exact space situation is like.

36 thoughts on “Decision Time

  1. Hi Professor,
    Regarding your Management Engineering program: How many applicants were there this year for Management Engineering? What was the percentage of applicants that were accepted?
    Thanks in advance!

  2. In your “Reviewing Results” post, specifically in the table in that post, System Design and Nano were posted to be in the same category as Civil, Environmental, Geological and Management. However here we see that the groups are closely similar probably the biggest change is that Systems and Nano went from being similar to Civil and Environmental to Software and tron.
    Really want to know why such a huge discrepancy between the two statistics? shouldn’t the higher in demand disciplines have a higher average needed to be accepted? In both cases people are trying to get in the program. It seems to me that a lot of people want to change into Systems after they finish 1st year university, why is that?

    • Those are two different scenarios. “Reviewing Results” describes the competition in getting an offer in the first place. This post discusses the challenge in getting a transfer into a different program. Systems and Nano have pretty tight capacity limits (room sizes), so getting a transfer in is often difficult or not possible. Systems seems to be popular when people discover more about it after starting at Waterloo.

  3. Hello Professor Anderson,

    I was not able to take Grade 12 Chemistry due to complications from my school, I took it in summer school and got a 97%, will Waterloo deduct any marks due to the course taken in summer school?

    Thanks for your reply

  4. Hello again sir, i acknowledge this question is unrelated to this post, however, i will ask anyways, my marks are predicted to take me right to the edge of the SE acceptances (93.5-94), i would like to known if there is anything i can do to increase my chances of acceptance, i already have work experience and work part time durring the school year, and am planning on attending several hackathons, so i guess im wondering what other things i can do that are available before the applications deadline to increase my chances (p.s. i already know of shad valley, however i do not have alot of money that i can spend on enrichment programs, and i do not want to ask my parents to spend any money either, after all i am working so i will be able to put myself through uni without the support of my parents.)

    Thank you.

      • Hello again and sorry to bother you, however im not sure i quite understood the response, the more i look at it the more confused i grow as to weather i stand a chance, so just to clearify based on what was seen this year, how large of a chance (if any) do you believe i will have?
        (I have also founded a software team and software business, participated in (6+) hackathons, my schools robotics team, and taken many software/ics and technologies courses (including many software ones on my own time which have led to knowledge of roughly 7 different programming languages. ).

        Also do you have any knowledge of when tech retreat and hack the north application responses will be coming back?

        Thank you.

      • You seem to have a decent chance, but there is no way to quantify it in advance. I’m not sure what difference it makes anyway. You either apply and see what happens, or don’t apply (in which case I can say your chances are zero).

      • Thank you sir, not only for the response, but also for reminding me that over stressing won’t do any good, and helping me remember that I’m going into software as i enjoy it, and i should enjoy the entire expereince rather then worry.

  5. Hi Professor,

    For UW’s Biomedical Engineering Program would someone with a 96% average, volunteer experience, no work experience and many on/off school extra curriculars stand a chance. If you are unable to answer that, (you talked about not answering individual circumstances), what would you say was the cutoff for averages into the prgram this year?

    Thanks you,


  6. Hello Professor Anderson,

    I’m a student in the Enhanced/Gifted program, and have taken all my core courses available in enhanced thus far. Unfortunately, course scheduling conflicts may prohibit me from taking some classes at the enhanced level in the coming grade 12 year.

    As I explore my options, I would like to know whether, for admission purposes, taking, say, English and Data Management, at the enhanced level would be given any preference over taking these courses at the academic level.

    Also, I have heard that universities can only see the first 5 letters of a course code, and so I would have to specify which courses were taken at an enhanced level in my AIF. Is this true?

    Thanks for your help.

    • Taking any enhanced level courses is a positive factor, as it indicates that you’re willing to challenge yourself. You’ll need to explain which courses are enhanced in the AIF. We can see all 6 digits in the course code, but it is often unclear what the last digit means so it’s better to explain it.

  7. Hello Professor!

    I had applied to the Mechatronics program for Fall 2016 and was denied admission. Being an IB student, I believe my refusal was upon the grounds of my predicted grades being [edited personal information].

    My school exercises extreme caution whilst handing out predicted grades and refrains from giving grades above 40, thus I would like to ask if there is any way possible that Waterloo may be able to reconsider my application after the final IB grades come out on July 5th, if they turn out to surpass my predicted grades.
    Waterloo has always been my dream school and I would be willing to take a chance if possible, may it be through an anomaly.

    I would appreciate your thoughts on the same.

    Thank you.

  8. Hello Professor,

    This is a question about a bit of a specific circumstance, but I studied for two years at a different University in a different field but left my studies last year, as it wasn’t what I was interested in.

    You mentioned in a previous post that if there is some time between when a course is originally taken and when it is re-taken, the penalty to one’s average due to re-taking a course can be avoided, is there a minimum amount of time generally for that to be considered the case?

    It would be a full year and a bit between when the university course was originally taken and when it would be re-taken, and the personal circumstances explaining the situation and why it reflects a total change in academic direction would be addressed in the AIF.

    I understand it is difficult for you to comment on specific circumstances, but I just wanted to get a feel of whether I should hold off another entire year in order to avoid the penalty associated with repeated courses for transfer students.

    Any advice would be appreciated, thank you!

  9. Hi Professor,

    I’m going into grade 12 next year and waterloo is an university that I’m interested in. I want to go into mechanical or ECE; however, I’m concerned about going ECE since I’d assume most students have strong programming backgrounds considering waterloo’s reputation. Furthermore, I heard that CE and EE students take the same courses for the first 1.5 years. I’m wondering whether my lack of experience would result in an extremely poor grade due to the other students being more ahead. I’d be grateful for any insight.


    • Not having programming experience in Electrical or Computer Engineering is not a problem; I’m told maybe half the class doesn’t, and the introductory course is set up to take that into account. On the other hand, having some experience can be helpful to having an easier time and getting co-op jobs. There are a variety of ways online to get intro courses for free, so I recommend those before starting university (for all engineering programs).

  10. Hello,
    I was scrolling through a few posts and have a few questions in regards to admissions.
    Is it stressful deciding which applicants get in?
    How long does it usually take for admissions to get finalized (Application readings and so forth)?
    Thank you.

    • Yes, it’s rather challenging choosing from among a lot of very good applicants. The entire process runs from January to early May before all the spaces are full, so it is about a four month intensive effort by a large team of people.

  11. Hi Professor I just had a quick question about the AIF. I want to apply for a spot in chemical engineering for September 2016 and was wondering is it better if we hand the AIF in early before the deadline. I know the AIF can be handed in early for early admission but I am pretty sure that I will not be getting accepted early due to my poor grade 11 marks so should I still hand it early? If I hand it in on the exact day of the deadline will it be looked at poorly as to if I hand it in early and will points be taken off the AIF. Thank you for your time.

  12. Hello
    I tried to prepare for math/computer contests for grade 11 last year out of curiosity. Unfortunately they did not go so well, and my school marks were impacted greatly due to poor preparation.
    How much consideration is put into contests and school marks?
    If this is already a question that has been asked, I apologize.

    • It’s better to try a contest and do poorly than to not try at all. Poor contest results do not have a negative impact. School grades are obviously important, but the emphasis is on Grade 12 results.

  13. Hello Prof,

    I am in Gr. 11 and have completed both of my Gr. 12 math credits due to the IB program.

    I received an 84 in both courses, but hope to receive 90’s in the rest of my courses to balance my disappointing math marks (I’m hoping to have an overall average of 91% by the time I apply here).

    Is there a minimum average required to apply to Waterloo engineering, or is only the Top 6 required?

    Thanks for your help.


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s