Ignore the Rankings

A group affiliated with the Stanford University Graduate School of Education has put out an interesting analysis and report “A ‘Fit’ Over Rankings:  Why College Engagement Matters More Than Selectivity”.   Basically it says that college rankings are not a useful indicator for quality or outcomes from a student’s perspective.  Students and parents would be better off ignoring rankings when choosing a college or university.  “Selectivity” (how hard it is to get an offer) is not a reliable indicator either.

What is important is “engagement” inside and outside the classroom.  Opportunities for internships (or co-op), mentors, long-term projects (maybe like student design teams?) are all examples of “engagement” that they cite in the report.  There are lots of other interesting details and observations, so I highly recommend having a look at it if you’re thinking about applying to university.

Engineering Failure Rates-Redux

Here’s an update on a popular old post, with some new data and comments.

I’m never quite sure why people ask about failure rates, or what they are expecting.  Do they want to hear that the failure rate is high, so they are convinced it’s a tough (and therefore good) program?  Or maybe they don’t want the failure rate to be high, because they are concerned that they won’t be successful?  I’m not sure what the motivation for the question is, but anyways let’s examine failure rates.  Continue reading

11 Surprising Things to Keep On Your Resume – Glassdoor Blog

Some interesting ideas in this article.  Although written for permanent job seekers, it could also be very applicable to co-op students and high school students applying for university programs.  Some of those things are what can make you stand out from the crowd, in my experience on the hiring and admissions side.

Stand up comedian? Competitive athlete? Find out what surprising skills should stay on your resume.

Source: 11 Surprising Things to Keep On Your Resume – Glassdoor Blog

Applying to University Should be Like Applying for Jobs

As high school students return to class, here is some key advice for those planning to apply to university or college.  I strongly suggest that when applying to a post-secondary program, it should be treated like applying for a job or career.  There should be some significant self-reflection and “selling yourself” to the university.  The self-reflection part is derived from Prof. Larry Smith’s book, which I have briefly reviewed before.  It’s very important to know why you’re doing something before doing it.  The “selling yourself” part builds on this, and can be illustrated with an example that is a composite of stuff we see for Engineering applications.  For this example, let’s consider two hypothetical applicants to Mechanical Engineering, both with similar grades (say low 90’s) and similar other activities.  Each applicant writes something in their Admission Information Form, along the lines of the following… Continue reading

Is there grade inflation?

I get asked about the grade inflation that I’ve seen over the years.  I know that there is anecdotal evidence of grade inflation from various sources.  For example, the GCE A Level exams (based in the UK) had to introduce a new top grade (A*) because so many people were getting the previous top grade (A) that it was becoming somewhat meaningless.  Likewise, as I mentioned in another post there are reports that over half of U.S. high school graduates have “A” averages.  However from my side I can’t make any conclusions based on our admissions data.  Here is why… Continue reading

Countdown

The deadline is quickly approaching for accepting offers on the OUAC application site.  Our deadline for Engineering offers is Friday June 1 at midnight (Toronto/Eastern time).  As a word of advice, don’t leave it to the last few minutes.  If you have computer problems and miss the deadline there aren’t any extensions available, the system closes.

Preliminary data indicates that we will likely meet or exceed our targets for the programs but we won’t know for sure for a few more weeks while we check the data and ensure that all the offer conditions have been met.  However, if you’re accepting an offer with the intention of transferring into Computer Engineering, it is pretty clear now that there will be no spaces.  If Computer Engineering is your true goal, you’re better off accepting an offer at another university if you have one.  This likely even applies to students in Electrical Engineering looking to switch to Computer.  In the past this has been straightforward, but the numbers may make this switch difficult from now on due to upper year course space limits.  Computer/Electrical Engineering transfers are generally possible in the early part of the programs, but there are never guarantees.

Overall, our general advice still applies:  don’t accept an engineering offer with the intention of immediately trying to change programs.  Generally, this is not going to happen because our lab and class facilities are full and going any further impacts on the quality we can offer the current students.