I’m told by our Registrar that the University Waterloo is has recently been approved by the US Department of Education. For US residents interested in our engineering programs, this means that they will be able to use their 529 plans for tuition and some other eligible expenses at Waterloo. (For Canadians readers, this is like our RESP investments, although I’m sure there are various differences.)
We were aware that this lack of ability to use 529 plans was a bit of a barrier to some prospective US students. I’m glad we were eventually able to remove this barrier for the future. (Thanks to our administration, as I understand this takes significant effort and time to meet all the US government documentation requirements!)
The one continuing issue is that US students in engineering will still not be eligible for US federal financial aid, because their rules don’t permit online learning as part of a program. Our co-op engineering programs employ a work-integrated experiential learning model, where students do some small online courses during their work terms in industry. So for now, US federal financial aid is out for engineering, but 529 plans are OK. With the income from our paid co-op work placements, students might not qualify for much (if any) financial aid after first year anyway.
(P.S. all of Waterloo’s other regular programs probably qualify for US federal financial aid purposes. It’s just our co-op programs, like engineering, that don’t at this time.)
After attending some U.S. STEM college fairs and talking to lots of students and families, I’ve noticed that there are some common themes and questions that come up. For all those who we weren’t able to meet, maybe it’s worthwhile summarising them here with our responses (as usual, these are specific to engineering, and it’s not just Americans that ask these questions). Continue reading
On Sunday October 15 2017 we will be attending a STEM College Fair in New York City. We are looking forward to the chance to meet some high school students and their parents, and to talk about Waterloo Engineering, co-op education, and studying in Canada.
At the same event last year, held on the campus of Columbia University, we were pleased to meet a number of parents that mentioned that they already knew something about Waterloo because their co-workers were alumni, or their company hired our co-op students. We had some interesting conversations with many others who didn’t know about Waterloo or had questions about studying in Canada.
If there are any blog readers from the New York area, Karyn and I would be happy to meet you at the STEM College Fair. We will also be around for a couple of days doing some engineering workshops at local high schools and meeting independent guidance counsellors, so anyone who wants to meet us but can’t attend the College Fair can always send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’ll see if we can arrange something.
On Sunday October 8 2017 we will be attending a STEM College Fair in Santa Clara, California. It’s a great opportunity for us to meet some high school students and their parents, and to talk about Waterloo Engineering, co-op education, and studying in Canada.
This will be the second year for this event, which was held in South San Francisco last year. Mirjana and I were somewhat overwhelmed with interested people last year and we were talking non-stop for the full three hours. I was impressed by the number of parents that approached us and mentioned that they already knew something about Waterloo because their co-workers were alumni, or their company regularly hired our co-op students. Of course there were many others who didn’t know about Waterloo or had never thought about studying in Canada, so we had some good discussions with them too.
If there are any readers from that area, Karyn (our current Associate Director of Admissions) and I would be happy to meet you at the STEM College Fair. For any readers that can’t make it to that, we will be hosting an evening event on Tuesday October 10th at Bellarmine College Preparatory from 7-9 pm. Please feel free to come out along with your families to learn more about what Canada’s most innovative university has to offer. You will also have a chance to meet our local alumni and a few of the hundreds of current Waterloo students that are on their work term (internships) at various companies in the Silicon Valley area. Please register Here so we know how many to expect. Registration closes on Thursday, October 5th.
We will also be around for a couple of days doing some engineering workshops at local high schools, so anyone who wants to meet but can’t attend those either of those two events can always contact us by email (email@example.com) and we’ll see if we can arrange something.
New this year, NACAC (National Association for College Admission Counseling) is hosting three college fairs dedicated to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). The first one is in Houston, Texas on Sunday September 25 2016 (for details click here). We’ll be attending to represent Waterloo Engineering and the other STEM programs. I see from the exhibitor list that our friends from the Universities of Toronto and Calgary are attending too, so there will be a bit of a Canadian contingent.
Why visit the U.S. and promote our programs? It’s true that we only have about 200 spaces in Engineering for non-Canadians, and several thousand applicants for those spaces, so the competition for admission is fierce. But we’re interested in having a diversity of applicants and finding the best from around the world. Also, over 1,000 of our student co-op work terms (i.e. paid internships) each year are now in U.S. companies. So it seems to make sense to start reaching out to potential applicants there using these NACAC STEM fairs as a starting point.
We look forward to meeting anyone from around the Houston area at the fair. Also, if there are interested people there who can’t attend the fair we’ll be available the following day, Monday September 26, for personal or small group meetings. Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get details and set up an appointment.
Usually, when Canadians speak of “Canada vs. U.S.” here it is with reference to a hockey series. However, in celebration of Canada Day (July 1) and Independence Day (July 4) holidays, here I’m going to point out a few differences in terminology and other things that you might run across when looking at engineering programs at Canadian and U.S. post-secondary institutions. (these are based on my observations, and there will be exceptions of course, because this is a huge and complex topic) Continue reading
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
I came across these examples of admissions essays at Johns Hopkins University a while ago: http://apply.jhu.edu/apply/essays.html
They are interesting, engaging, witty, nicely written. But frankly, I’m glad we don’t make our applicants submit essays. I think I much prefer our Admission Information Form. Much more brief, to the point, quicker to read (sort of what an engineering report should be).
I know from other reading that there are various concerns with these college admission essays. How much of it is the work of the applicant, versus parents or admissions consultants? Was it purchased or plagiarised from somewhere? (There is a Turnitin for Admissions service that some universities use to check for that.) Does a good essay translate into a good engineering student? Lots of questions, and not so many answers.
Some of our applicants complain about having to fill out our AIF. I suspect that they would like submitting an essay even less.
While working through our application and admission data, we see quite a few applicants who have done a required course at summer school, especially among Ontario residents. (It doesn’t seem to be so common in other provinces. I wonder why?) We know that the theory/rumour is that you can get higher grades at summer school and thereby boost your admission average and chances of acceptance into the more competitive programs. We also hear concerns from other applicants and parents that this is an unfair advantage, because some are unable to attend summer school for various reasons. Currently we don’t penalize applicants taking summer school courses (unless it is to repeat a required course), but maybe we should? Since we like evidence-based decision-making, let’s use some data to see if summer school does give a significant advantage. Continue reading
The universities in Ontario contribute data to the “Common University Data Ontario” (CUDO) database, and this can be interesting to look at when considering applications and offers. You can select several universities and a specific piece of data, and do some side-by-side comparisons. One of the questions we often get from applicants and parents is about employment prospects after graduation from Engineering. Everyone worries about graduating and not being able to find a job, so let’s look at that specific piece of information for several universities. Continue reading