Looking at Admission Essays

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.

Boosting Grades at Summer School

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

Employment After Graduation?

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

How to Get an Early Offer

Lots of applicants are keen on getting an “early offer”, which for Waterloo Engineering is typically in the early March to early April timeframe (the final offer round is in early May).  There is no particular benefit to getting an early offer, other than relief from the stress of uncertainty.  Actually, there is a downside:  a few people with early offers relax too much and lose out on scholarships (which are decided in May) or sometimes even lose their offer when their final grades come out.  But most are OK, so how to get one of these early offers?  Following is a list of things to do: Continue reading

Chance Yourself

On the College Confidential forums, there are whole sections where applicants ask others to “chance me” (a rather odd use of “chance” as a verb, but anyways).  They post their stats and desired target colleges, and want others to tell them how likely they are to get an offer.  It is primarily U.S. college focused, so I thought I would develop a system where you can “chance” yourself for Waterloo Engineering, as an extension of what I discussed in the post about cut-offs. Continue reading