Chances for 2019

Since I’ve left the Admissions role I’m not going to post my traditional graphic of chances for the upcoming cycle, BUT let me introduce you to a new Waterloo engineering admissions-focused blog where you can find it:   The Road to Engineering

Follow that blog for updates on current Waterloo Engineering admissions news, suggestions and updates, including some information about the upcoming Ontario Universities Fair.


60 thoughts on “Chances for 2019

  1. Hi profbillanderson, was not sure where to ask this (and I know you were on engineering admissions, not math admissions. I thought you might still have an idea.) but here goes:

    For entry into the faculty of mathematics programs which has high school prerequisites of ENG4U (english), MHF4U(advanced functions), and MCV4U(calculus/vectors), will admissions chances be affected by taking MHF4U in the second semester? Normally, MHF4U is a prerequisite to calculus which should be taken in first semester, but I am allowed to take them concurrently in the second semester at my school. Will admissions decisions be affected by taking 2 courses in first semester, and 4 courses in the second semester including MHF4U and MCV4U + 2 other M/U level courses? Does the faculty of mathematics prefer seeing a final mark in MHF4U oppose to the midterm mark?


    • I have no idea what mathematics likes to see. However, I would make a guess that they won’t consider making any offers until May, when your second semester grades are available.

      • Hello, I have a question.
        What are the chances like to get into Waterloo’s engineering for part-time and full-time online school students? How do engineering admissions view them?

        I am planning to switch my main four courses online and do two electives, English and Marketing. My reasons behind this 1. Because of my learning style. I like to learn things at a faster and more concise pace while learning things more in-depth. Also to finish these courses earlier, to take other courses online to satisfy my curiosity. 2. to spend my time focusing on personal projects and a web-development business to help senior’s business.

        Thank you so much for these insightful and informative blogs. I read 5 of your blogs and they are extremely helpful.

      • Personally, I had no problems with online students, as long as the required courses were done well. It takes a certain amount of dedication and self-motivation to do online courses, which is a good thing for engineering. Going at a faster pace and doing other stuff are positive features too.

  2. Dear Sir,
    I have a question regarding the chances for 2019 graph in road to engineering blog.
    According to it, it seems that getting into Waterloo engineering programs is easier in 2019 compared to 2018 (excluding biomedical and software). For mechatronics engineering, according to the 2018 graph, you have a lower probability of getting in with a 96% average compared to 2019….
    What is the reason for this anomaly?

    • I don’t see any significant difference (and there shouldn’t be one). Any minor difference (a few percentages) will be due to random fluctuations in the data collection and curve fitting.

  3. Dear Dr. Anderson
    I’m a BC applicant for 2019, and I’m extremely interested in AI Machine Learning and Robotics Feedback Control Systems. I did well on my AP Calculus BC and AP Physics C Exams. However, I completed prerequisites through distance education, and I’m repeating my English 12 because the first attempt was way too low (below 70). Are these factors going to significantly downgrade my AIF score for admission?

    • Since I’m no longer directly involved with admissions I can’t say for sure. But in the past years, repeating one of the Grade 12 required courses would be a significant negative factor so you should make sure to consider alternative plans too.

  4. Hi profbillanderson, I was curious about summer school credits and how they factor into the admission process for Waterloo Engineering.

    If one was to take all three sciences in high school (chemistry, physics, biology) and took physics in summer school, due to the fact full IB (International Baccalaureate) diploma program only allows for 2 IB sciences at their school, would this affect their admission when applying to engineering? And if the average was to be adjusted, what would the grade adjustment be if one received a gr.11 physics Grade of 85%, and then a 95% received in grade 12 summer school. Would it be worth it to drop the IB programme to fit in physics into day school?


    • I can’t comment on current practices in admissions, but in the past there were no adjustments for summer school courses (for engineering admissions) if the reasons were good and the marks were not unusually high. It’s not unusual for some IB students to do physics in summer school because of the program limitations. Whether to drop IB or not is more of a personal decision, but I wouldn’t necessarily drop it just for the physics if you enjoy it otherwise.

  5. Hi professor, I read your post back from 2013 regarding transfers from other universities, and you mentioned that you guys don’t really care about high school marks after students have already started at the other university. Is this still true? Other people (literally everyone that I’ve asked) said that high school marks do still matter, even when transferring from another respected engineering program. If that isn’t true anymore, and high school marks do matter, could you say how much it will impact a transfer application?

    Thank you!

    • Things may change with the new admissions team, but in the recent past university grades were much more important because they are a more reliable indicator of how an applicant will perform in a university-level course. To put it another way, excellent high school grades can’t make up for weak university course performance, and weak high school grades will generally be not a concern if the university grades are excellent. It’s complicated though, so every situation is looked at in detail on a case by case basis.

      • I have a question too about the transfer process. From the previous university, are only the fall term marks taken? Or are the winter term marks taken as well?

  6. Hi Professor Anderson,

    Will changing to a different engineering program after having already submitted the AIF negatively effect my chances? I will have to make amendments on the AIF. Specifically, I am looking to change from Mechatronics to Software.

    Thank You.

  7. Hi Professor Anderson,

    If an Ontario IB student were to take Higher Level Math as opposed to Standard Level or even regular Ontario Calculus and Vectors, would the admissions team be able to differentiate between them since they all have identical course codes? Furthermore, how would the team be able to tell whether or not an Ontario student took IB?

    Thank you.

    • Assuming that things are still the same, the Ontario school data the universities receive has a flag that indicates if it is an IB certificate or diploma program. I don’t think that higher and standard levels are specifically identified, which is why our AIF provides an opportunity to clarify what courses are in progress.

  8. Hi Professor Anderson,

    I have applied to CS, CE and Math co-op and have an average of 97.2. Will I get an admission decisions one by one for the choices or all together?

      • My friend with lower average and less ECs applied only to Maths co-op and he received an offer while I applied to three choices mentioned in the above question. Does it mean I have lower chance of acceptance now?

  9. Dear Professor, If I have applied for CS and Mathematics they consider that i am candidate eligible to get computer science then they will not give me early offer of mathematics. If my first choise is computer science and second choise is mathematics?

  10. Hi Professor,

    I am a student applying from India studying in CBSE board. I have submitted 10th grade and 12th predicted scores. Do I need to submit any additional scores, if I have applied for Computer Engineering?

  11. Hello, in your external transfer post back in 2013, you said that a 75%+ equivalent average was good to be considered a competitive applicant… is that still the case today? or has the competition increased?

    • I suspect that it’s somewhat higher now, especially for the more competitive programs. A transfer applicant needs to really stand out, otherwise there is not a lot of reason to accept them.

  12. Hi Professor Anderson, I was just wondering if it would detrimental for me to change my alternative choices on my AIF right now (March 15th) after the first rounds of admissions (I’m assuming first round is over as it was mentioned that you guys typically try to release all offers on the same day). In addition, if I do change it, do I have to change it as an amendment?
    Much Thanks, Min

  13. Hello Professor Anderson, i had a question regarding ENG4U requirements for engineering. i have an average 95’s in MHF4U,SPH4UC,SCH4UC and MCV4U. but my grades in ENG4U are in low 80’s. as i know that waterloo will not consider my undergraduate diploma credits of 3.8/4.0 GPA. i want know that can my low grades of ENG4U be a factor for my rejection in engineering.

    • Lots of applicants have English marks in the 80s, so that’s not unusual. As for acceptance/rejection, it just depends how you stack up against the other applicants taking all the factors into consideration. It is typically not any one thing that causes rejection, unless it is a missing requirement.

  14. Hi Prof,
    I applied to civil engineering as my back up, but I didn’t talk about it in the AIF, but I spoke about Electrical Engineering which was my first choice. Will this affect my chances, or will I have an equal admission chance as anyone who put it first?

  15. Hello Professor,
    I was wondering when you guys calculate our admission average for engineering is it just our average among the five required courses or the average of the five required courses plus our next highest mark.

  16. Hello Professor Anderson!
    First of all, it is cheerful and such a relief to read admission details from a professional and your blog help to clarify many facts within the admission process, thank you!
    I have applied for electrical engineering in UW and still waiting for an update for my admission, do you know when will, approximately, the offer of admission will be released in May? Is that gonna be until the very end of May 2019?
    Secondly, I have a top six average of 97.3 and I am a visa student, however, I have been studying in the Canadian education system since grade 10 and apply through 101 in ouac, do you consider me as a “visa applicant”, I want to know because I see the possibility for visa applicants to get in is relatively low.
    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Andy Yu

    • I don’t know the exact timing of offers this year, since I’m not directly involved. I assume they will be in next two weeks, based on past years’ timelines.
      If you’re not a Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident of Canada, you’re a visa student regardless of where you study.

  17. Hi Dr. Anderson,

    Does taking a break from school after high school, working, and then applying affect my competitive chances of admission? I took my AB diploma when it was worth 50% of the final grade, but diplomas are now only worth 30% of the final grade.

    • I always had a favourable view towards applicants that took a break. They tended to be a bit more mature and focused on their goals, which can be helpful for academic and co-op success.

      • Hello Mr Anderson,
        I am truely grateful to you for your invaluable and informative posts and efforts to help us.

        I wanted to know if taking a two or three years of break or gap after high school graduation would be a good idea. Also, how the Engineering admission team deal with the required courses of such kind of applicants?
        Will such applicants need to refresh the required courses?

      • A one year gap is usually fine. For more than 1 year it depends on the circumstances. It’s best to contact the current admissions staff to get more insightful and up to date feedback on that.

      • I appreciate your response Mr Anderson.
        Could you please explain how the Engineering admission team dealt with such applicants when you were in the team?

  18. Hello Professor ,
    I am from INDIA and scored 94 % in 10 from ICSE board and 93% in 11 std from State board. I shall be appearing for 12 board exams in March 2020. I have many academic awards and achievements and extracurricular activities . What are my chances of getting admission in CS ? What score in 12 exam is required for admission but result may not be declared till May 20

    • I have never dealt with CS admissions, just engineering, so I don’t really know how competitive it is. Just continue doing your best and see how it turns out.

  19. Dear Professor,
    I would appreciate if you could give some explanation for my questions. Unfortunately, the admissions team responded me with very brief replies (some words) as they are too much busy to give me adequate info.
    I know you are no longer in the admissions team. However, it would be a great help if you provide me with some explanations.

    The link below shows your reply on a comment which was some years ago where you have said that “Age is not a factor, but we do like to see evidence of strength in math and science courses in the last 2 to 3 years.”
    It seems like you referred to the age of the required courses.

    My questions are:
    If the required (grade 12) courses of a student will be 2 years old in early 2020, will she need to refresh the courses?

    Can I know how the admissions team count the age of the required courses or how it was counted when you were in the admissions team.
    I mean, do they count from the month when the student graduated from high school until the time when the student submits her admission application or it is counted differently?

    Thanks in advance!

    • In that comment I was referring to the age of the person, and just confirming that it doesn’t matter how old the applicant is. The abilities of the applicant are the prime concern, to ensure that they will likely be successful. Because our admissions processes are holistic, there is no easy or exact answer to these questions and it is case-by-case dependent. In the past we would consider these sorts of factors: 1) length of time between completing the course and starting our program, if admitted; 2) the type of curriculum; 3) the grade in the course; 4) prior grades in the same subject area (to see if it is consistently strong); 5) the program the applicant wants and the level of competition for that program; 6) what the applicant has been doing since the course; 7) any evidence of continuing academic activities to keep the subject material fresh, or to advance their knowledge; 8) overall academic strength in all courses; 9) motivations and plans for our program; 10) any evidence of resilience. Putting all these ideas together, we would try to get an impression of whether the applicant was likely to succeed if admitted, based on our experience with past applicants in similar types of situations.

      Refreshing/retaking a course is not always a good idea. In some ways it’s basically like standing-still, not progressing. Worse, if you end up with a lower grade it will not work in your favour. It’s better to do something to stay academically/mentally active and progress at least a little. Some people do online courses in similar or advanced topics (college, university, Coursera, etc.), some participate in hobbies or competitions that require skills, some work part-time tutoring students. These sorts of things show progress and also ambition and motivation, which are good.

  20. Hello,

    It would be really very helpful if you can give me some advice on my admission before i apply to Waterloo for either Software Engineering or Computer Science. I completed Grade 12 from India with Grades – Maths 92%, Physics 88%, Chemistry 80% in 2014. Then i started my 3 Year Advance Diploma at Algonquin College, Ottawa with an CGPA average of 3.81/4.0 and graduated in 2017 December and Since then i am working in the field. I would be applying for either of the above mentioned programs for an Undergraduate degree as a Domestic Student.

    What do you think my chances would be to get in? Also, will my Job experience taken in to consideration.
    Also, Since i am not in high school, i am not able to give AP exams to improve my changes. Is there something else that i can do to?

    Thanks for the help in advance.

    • That looks like a reasonable background, and having relevant job experience can be a plus. However, since something like 90% of applicants to software engineering don’t get accepted, it’s impossible to give any meaningful advice or chances. Just apply, make your best case on the Admission Information Form, and see what happens. Obviously, you should have backup plans to apply to other universities with less competition for the programs you want.

  21. Hello Professor Anderson,

    Thank you for all your insightful information. I have a question that may come across silly, but I can not find the answer anywhere.

    Since the word limit is short, is it okay to use contractions (I’m, or That’s why) to save space? On the other blog you mentioned to not use texting language, but would contractions count?

    Thank you in advance,


  22. Hi Prof,
    I am a student from Alberta, hoping to apply for Mechatronics at Waterloo in the upcoming year. However, I was wondering if you could answer some questions.
    1) How big of a role do math contests, like the Euclid, play into getting admitted?
    2) Will it have a significant effect on my chances of admission if I were to score poorly on any of these contests?
    3) I have a 94% in Chemistry 30, expecting to apply with a 95.166% average with my top 6 courses. However, I have a 73% in Biology 30 and a 76% in Chemistry 20. Will this lower my chance of an acceptance? Will I have to explain why I had scored so poorly in these two classes?

    • Generally, participating in contests is a good experience and viewed favourably. In my view, participating with a poorer score is better than not participating at all (shows that you’re at least willing to try). Lower marks in non-required courses are generally not a problem, if you have the good marks in the required courses.

  23. hi, I want to get into waterloo engineering so around how many extracurricular activities would I need to be a highly competitive applicant also sustaining that I have a 95+ average>

    • There is no specific number of activities to aim for. Quality will be more impressive than quantity. A long list of minor activities is not impressive, compared to a couple of major long-term activities that show commitment and progress.

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