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.

First Rounds of Offers for 2015

We just finished processing our first round of offers for applicants who are Ontario high school students. These should be appearing via Quest, OUAC and email.  As usual, we made enough offers to fill up to 1/3 of our available spaces in each program (more specifically, those spaces reserved for Canadians and Permanent Residents).  These are applications where we have enough data and it’s clear that they are competitive, based on previous experience.  We’ll be processing some non-Ontario applicant offers in the next few weeks (these take a lot more effort to analyze and sort through).

Some universities give out a lot more earlier offers for Engineering, but that’s simply because they have a lot less competition for spaces and can just go ahead with whatever they have. Continue reading

Admissions 2015: How it’s going to work

Here is an update on past years’ very popular post, with some revisions and clarification for the upcoming September 2015 admissions cycle.

Here is an overview on how the process is going to work and the approximate timelines.  As usual, this is specific to Waterloo Engineering admissions; other programs and universities will have their own unique variations.  Also, make sure you look through our admissions webpages for exact deadlines and official requirements since this is just an unofficial, quick overview and I can’t cover every detail for every variety of applicant and situation. Continue reading

Back to Summer School

A previous post some time ago “Boosting Grades at Summer School” looked at the implications of doing summer school, and found that there was a small difference in the average grade of those who did summer school versus those who didn’t.  While this is one way of looking at it, there is another way which is possibly better for admission purposes, so that’s what we will do here, with some interesting results. Continue reading

Chances for 2015

Here is an updated version of a post I’ve been creating for several years.

The 2015 Admissions brochures for Engineering and other programs have recently been uploaded.  We have continued to include a table showing admission probabilities (“chances”) for different programs and grade ranges.  It seems that many people find it useful for getting a realistic impression of their chances at admission, so that they can plan accordingly.  In the graphic below is a copy of the latest version.  This is based on the 2014 results and as usual we caution that 2015 may be different, since it all depends on the competition level (which is unknown in advance).  In 2014 the level of competition went up quite a bit, as illustrated in a previous post.  Maybe it will go down in 2015, since we know that’s the general direction of the demographics in Ontario, but we’ll see. Continue reading

Is IB Worth It?

I get asked whether the International Baccalaureate program is “worth it” every year, and it’s one of those questions with no obvious general answer.  Certainly the curriculum and expectations seem to be good preparation for university, from what we see on our side.  But whether the extra challenge, time commitments, cost etc. are “worth it” has to be more of an individual family decision.  For example, if you had to commute 2 hours a day to an IB school and give up your sports and part-time job, maybe that’s not “worth it”.  I don’t know.  I can point out that Waterloo Engineering (and most Canadian engineering schools as far as I’ve seen) does not grant credit for IB courses, so it won’t save you any time or money in university from that perspective.

However, the other common part of the question is this:  “if I do the IB program, will my chances for admission to Waterloo Engineering be compromised?”.  The assumption here is that the grades will be lower than they could have been in a regular high school program.  This question I can answer (to a certain extent), using an analysis of our admissions data as follows. Continue reading

Considering an Alternate Offer 2014

Here’s an updated re-post from 2013, which might be useful.

When people apply to Waterloo Engineering, they apply to the program of most interest but can also identify a second and third choice on their AIF.  That way, if they are not quite competitive for the 1st choice, we can still consider them for one of the other two.  We assume that the choices are ranked in descending order of preference, so we try to get the 2nd choice if possible, then the 3rd.  Typically around 300 to 350 people get one of these alternate offers to their 2nd or 3rd choice (not a target, just a typical number each year).  Some people are quite happy with their alternate offer.  Others, not so much.  Those holding an alternate offer will have to decide what to do with it, so here are a few questions that commonly come up. Continue reading

Final Admission Round 2014

After many hours of review and work by the admissions team, the final set of admissions decisions are done.  I’ll just summarize a few things for now.

  1. Offers are being posted to Quest initially, and will get updated on OUAC in the next few days.  Ontario (OUAC 101) offers come out first (like today), and out of province (OUAC 105) offers take a few more days to process, so probably by the end of this week.
  2. Emails should go out shortly too (I think).  Mailed packages take a bit more time to assemble and deliver.
  3. As we suspected, competition for the limited number of spaces was higher again this year, about 1,000 more applications than last year.  At the end, we received a bit over 10,000 applications, and made about 3,000 offers.  This should give us about 1,600 new students in September, which is our target.  On the downside, there will be about 7,000 disappointed applicants.
  4. At first glance, it seems that the increased competition pushed up the typical admission averages by about 1% across all the programs.  We will have to update our admission stats for the 2015 cycle in the coming weeks.
  5. Some people will call the office to find out why they didn’t get an offer, or didn’t get their first choice program.  It’s a bit pointless however, since the answer is always the same…in the ranked list of applicants, the program was filled before we got down to that part of the list.  In many programs we were filling the last few spots with applicants having low 90s averages, and there were still 500+ applicants left in the list.
  6. We will have a waitlist for those who want to be reconsidered in June if there are any open spaces.  You can ask to be put on the waitlist by emailing with your name, ID# and desired program.
  7. I see that there are dozens of comments on other posts that I haven’t had time to address.  Sorry, but I’ll have to delete most of them and start fresh, unless they are key questions of general interest.

April 2014 Admissions Update

Things continue to be extremely busy, so many of my planned posts are postponed.  Here are a few random comments that might be of interest.

  1. In late March we sent out a couple of hundred more offers to applicants from outside of Ontario.  By our estimates, most programs have now committed 40 to 50% of the available spaces.  We will give these remaining spaces away in the final round in early May.
  2. Currently, we’re waiting for the Ontario schools’ second semester mid-term grades to be uploaded.  And we’re frantically working through the remaining document submissions from the non-Ontario applicants.  Everything should be done by late April so we can do the early May offers.
  3. As soon as the early May offers are finalized, we will also make the scholarship decisions for all the offer holders (including those from the earlier rounds).
  4. Final application numbers are in, and it looks like we had a record number of applicants again this year.  Over 10,000 in total, for about 1,600 available spots.
  5. While scanning through some data, I noticed that one applicant had ranked Waterloo Engineering as #31 on OUAC (this might be a record in my experience).  As I have posted in the past, we don’t really care what ranking an applicant puts us as; if the grades are competitive we will make an offer.  But I have to wonder about people who are applying to so many programs (and spending so much money for the applications!).  And this is not an isolated case; there are a bunch that rank us in the 20s.  Surely they could be a bit more strategic and selective about their applications? When I was in high school (a long time ago, admittedly), we were only allowed to apply to a maximum of 3 programs.
  6. The AIF reading and scoring is pretty much done now.  Every year there are a bunch of applicants who didn’t press “Submit” for every part of the AIF (in spite of email reminders), so it doesn’t get read and scored because it’s not fully completed.  Unfortunately they won’t get any significant AIF bonus.
  7. We’re starting to finalize plans for our open house on May 24 for admitted students.  Hopefully the weather will be nicer by then!
  8. New this year, some of our 4th year design groups submitted 90 second videos to describe their “capstone” projects.  These can be viewed on our Youtube channel.  I haven’t had time to look at them all, but there are some very interesting ones, and they give a nice flavour of what some students do.
  9. Various other interesting items appear on our Facebook page.  I highly recommend it for exploring Waterloo Engineering activities and news, since it covers much more than I have time to look at.

That’s all for now.  More later, when I finish up some of the more pressing items.


Early Offers 2014

A revised and updated version of a post from 2013.

We just finished (February 20) processing our first round of offers for applicants who are Ontario high school students, and they have been posted in Quest.  It may take a few more days for OUAC to be updated and emails to go out.  Some of the processes were described in an earlier post, How to Get an Early Offer (which may be a bit outdated for 2014).  But to summarize, we took the data we had at that point and made enough offers to fill up to 1/3 of our available spaces in each program (more specifically, those spaces reserved for Canadians and Permanent Residents).  These are applications where we have enough data and it’s clear that they are competitive, based on previous experience.  We were quite conservative this year, and  gave out fewer offers than in 2013, since we want to leave lots of spaces for a fair competition in the final round in May.  In part, this is because application numbers are up significantly again this year and it’s hard to distinguish fairly between applicants when there are so many with similar grades.  So we think it’s better to hold off until the most complete data is available in late April.  We’ll be processing some non-Ontario applicant offers in the coming weeks.

Some universities give out a lot more earlier offers, but that’s simply because they have a lot less competition for spaces and can just go ahead with whatever they have. Continue reading