Chances of Admission for Fall 2019

Every year, prospective students frequently ask about their chances of admission to Waterloo Engineering.  As you can probably imagine, admission to Waterloo Engineering is highly competitive.  As one of Canada’s premier engineering schools for undergraduate education and as a worldwide leader in co-operative education, our programs are quite popular among prospective students.

Since 2014, Bill Anderson has posted on his blog an easy-to-read graphical version of the information that appears on the Waterloo Engineering website and in our promotional brochures.  Here is a link to last year’s version of the blog post.  Bill bases this information on the previous year’s experience and shows the overall probability of getting an offer of admission given an applicant’s admission average.  This admission average is based on the required courses, usually mathematics, physics, chemistry, and English (depending upon the school, the location, and the curriculum).

Thanks to Bill Anderson, I now have an updated version of his blog post for 2019, based on experience with the 2018 admission cycle.  New this year, some changes have been made to more accurately display the information.  The biggest change is in the assumption that an admission average of 100% should result in a 100% probability of an offer.  When Bill first started constructing these graphs, this was a fair assumption but recent years have illustrated that it can now be misleading for the most competitive programs where there are many applicants with averages between 95% and 100% who unfortunately, did not receive offers of admission.  Now, the assumption (for graphical curve fitting purposes) is that the probability stays constant for 95% and higher and does not approach 100% probability.  With this change, the graph looks somewhat different than those previously posted.

admission-chances

For example, this graph would suggest that of all the Canadian applicants to Mechatronics Engineering with an admission average of 94%, about 60% of these students will receive an offer of admission to their program of choice.  For the purposes of this graph, the admission average does not include any other factors such as work experience, extra-curricular activities, or other distinguishing factors.

This graph is based on the data shown on the Waterloo Engineering website.  As in previous years, programs with similar probabilities are lumped together for simplicity and clearer presentation.  This is based on the actual admission results for all 13,000+ applicants to Engineering in the 2018 cycle.  The apparent decrease in probability fro averages from 98% to 100% is an artifact of the mathematical technique used to fit the curves and does not represent any real reduction in probability of admission.

In past years, Bill Anderson used Mathcad to fit cubic splines to the data shown on our website.  This year’s graph was produced by Bill Anderson using Maple, a home-grown Waterloo product that has been in existence for over thirty years.  I recall first using Maple in 1988 while visiting Brock University on a school trip.  I recall being amazed by what the tool was capable of solving on a Macintosh computer that at the time seemed better suited for drawing pictures than solving complex mathematical problems.  I am sure that the modern version of Maple is both faster, more reliable, and more powerful than the version I used so many years ago.

For those interested in the details of how the graph was produced, Bill used the “ArrayInterpolation” function with “method=spline” to get a cubic spline interpolation between the points.  As expected with a cubic spline method, there are some artifacts in the graph that are not actually meaningful.  There may be a better way to represent the data but this approach seems reasonable.

66 thoughts on “Chances of Admission for Fall 2019”

    1. Dear Professor Bishop,
      Is the AIF graded as a whole, or split up into sections and graded? So the team looks and grades each individual response rather than read the whole AIF and grade it.

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      1. We do not disclose how we assess the AIF. We have mechanisms in place for consistent assessment but it is important to remember that all grading typically has a qualitative element. As such, there is always some variability to the score attached to an assessment.

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  1. Welcome to the job! Just read about “Waterloo’s secret list” on Global News. I imagine you may address it in an upcoming blog post. Is there an adjustment applied to “students from New Brunswick” or “students from Egypt”? How much can the adjustment factor affect the admissions process? What was the minimum number of students from each high school e.g. Grimsby or Bangladesh for it to make the list (for the result to be statistically significant)? Will you release the data in a more open way with detailed explanation here on your blog? What would you say to parents who are concerned that their children are attending one of the schools on the list (or want to move their children to a school on the other end of the list)?

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    1. I do intend to have upcoming blog posts that will address many of the questions you have raised but right now our team’s focus is on addressing media inquiries from Global News, CTV, and various other news organizations. I believe Global News published the adjustment factor for New Brunswick. Factors are applied to any school or jurisdiction where we have sufficient students to justify a statistically significant result. This includes other provinces and countries. I do not recall which other provinces and countries made the list last year. We have not disclosed the number of students required for the calculation, partially due to the fact that it may cause other issues. There is a more detailed explanation of the adjustment factor calculation on Bo Peng’s blog that you can find online. It is reasonably accurate. For parents, I would say that they should not move students to try to game the system. Moving a student from one high school to another will disrupt their learning. The fact that we have adjustment factors for schools indicates that we accept students from those schools. It is possible to get into engineering from any of the provincially approved secondary schools in Ontario.

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      1. Thanks for your responses and glad to hear it will be addressed later. I do see that Bo Peng and Patrick Cain provided access to the whole OSS and NOSS list in a Google spreadsheet. Looking forward to your explanation and considerations.

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  2. Any consideration for future admissions to use AP scores, SAT scores (Standardized exams) to evaluate students potential? I feel that the grading system in Ontario is very biased and depends on competitiveness of certain schools (i.e. top ranked school in GTA not same as top ranked school in other areas in Ontario).

    Also, does the engineering release grade distribution for undergrad courses?

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    1. We do not have any plan to require any standardized testing from jurisdictions that do not already use such testing. We do ask for SAT scores from applicants in jurisdictions where SAT scores are typically required but the scores themselves are not a significant factor in our competitive selection process. The top U.S. schools are currently moving away from requiring SAT scores as they have found them to not be great indicators of success. SAT scores have the potential to exhibit some bias since students who come from affluent families have much better access to prep courses. I plan to write a blog post on standardized testing sometime later this year. It is a hot topic.

      We do not release final grade distributions for our undergraduate courses.

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  3. Hello Sir,
    I am a prospective applicant for the 2019 engineering admission cycle. I have according to the graph, it is easier to get into Waterloo Mechatronics Engineering with a 96% average in comparison to 2018 by looking at last year’s graph. Can you please tell me any specific reason for this?
    Is this due to the highschool adjustment factors across Ontario, the list of 74 schools posted in September 2018?
    Thanks

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    1. The graphs produced by Bill Anderson to predict chances of admission in 2018 use a different tool and a slightly different method as described briefly at the end of my blog post. Some of the differences between the two graphs are simply due to the change in the way the graphs were produced. The data also changes slightly from year to year due to program demand. The chances of admission depend heavily on the size of the applicant pool, the quality of applicants, and the number of available spaces in the program.

      The averages reported in the chances of admission graphs do not take into account adjustment factors, Admission Information Form scores, online interview assessments, or any other adjustments. For the majority of applicants, adjustment factors have very little impact upon an applicant’s chances of admission.

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  4. Hi,
    A lot of IB Highschool students were forced to take a summer school SPH4U course since they were unable to fit that course into their daily schedules due to the fact that the IB Program filled their entire course schedule. These students do not have any spares and would have wanted to take the course in day-school had they been allowed. Will these students be negatively affected during admissions?

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    1. If applicants fail to provide a suitable explanation on their Admission Information Form, they may have their overall admission score adjusted. This is clearly indicated on our website. We encourage all applicants to take required courses through regular day school, whenever possible. My recommendation to all future applicants is to start planning your courses in Grade 11 (or earlier) to figure out the best way to meet post-secondary school requirements. In some cases, it may be possible to take a non-required course in summer school to free up a slot for a required course. In other cases, you may find a way to take one or more Grade 12 courses in an earlier year.

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  5. 90% (3.6 GPA) from an American school with 4/5s in AP Physics, CS, and Calculus. Plus I have a reasonably good experience with programming (92% at ICS3U at an Ontario virtual school, a few projects in Github, and a couple of opensource contributions)
    And an interesting transition from Egyptian > Canadian > American education (While traveling from Egypt > Kazakhstan) PS: I have a Canadian citizenship

    Would you think it is worth it to spend half my choices on SE? Or would I be better off choosing programs where I have more chances to get in?

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    1. I always recommend that students apply for the program they most want to pursue. Students are rarely happy when they accept a program other than the one they really wanted. Transferring from one Waterloo Engineering program to another Waterloo Engineering program is very difficult due to our discipline-specific first year courses. We do not have a common first year engineering program. We need discipline-specific first year courses to prepare students for their first co-op work term placement.

      As the graph suggests, the SE program is a highly competitive program with a low acceptance rate. Given that you were educated in the U.S., we would look into your high school profile to assess your GPA more accurately. We do not care about marks in freshman, junior, and sophomore years. Your GPA would presumably include all of these years so we would recalculate your admission average using just your senior year grades. Your admission average might be higher or lower, depending upon how you did in your senior year. If the admission average remained at 90%, the odds of acceptance to the SE program would be low but there would still be a slight chance. The Admission Information Form and the online interview could make the difference. Having Canadian citizenship is a significant advantage. We have a very limited number of spots for international students.

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  6. Dear sir,
    I am currently applying for the software engineering program at waterloo. My average before midterms is around a 90% and ill hopefully improve it. I am currently in the AP Stream at my school. I believe I have a great deal of experience programming working on various personal projects and the recent one being a full fledged close to commercial level flight simulator logging over 2000 hours of programming experience. Assuming this stuff goes into the AIF, how much is this kind of stuff weighed into the admission acceptance chance?
    Thanks.

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    1. The assessment of an Admission Information Form is worth 5% overall. We rarely give a grade of 5 out of 5 on the Admission Information Form. An applicant needs to be truly exceptional to receive such a grade. Remember that the average applicant to the software engineering program is not a typical high school student. Software engineering applicants tend to have more extracurricular activities than the average university applicant. I would say that an above-average applicant to the software engineering program can realistically make up two percentage points over an average applicant to the software engineering program.

      The optional online interview is another way to boost your application. When completed, this interview is given a similar weight to the Admission Information Form. A strong interview can definitely improve an applicant’s chances of being accepted to a Waterloo Engineering program.

      At the end of the day, the best way to improve your chance of being selected for our programs is to do well in all of your grade 12 courses. There is still time to improve your grades, as you indicate in your message. Do the best that you can.

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      1. Dear Mr. Bishop,
        I’m an international student applying to software engineering (with around a 95% average) and was wondering how holistic the admission process is.
        If a student is taking IB (HL math physics chem), would there be an advantage for taking such difficult courses relative to other applicants who did not take such rigorous courses (someone taking SL math physics and chem)?

        Do you always take the student with the highest admission average (grades + AIF + Online Interview), or is there some individual selection. For example, if student A has a 99% average, 3 on AIF and 2 on the online interview, while student B has a 95% average with a 5 on the AIF and 3 on the interview, will student A always get picked over student B? Or is the process more nuanced?

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      2. A student with HL courses in mathematics, physics, and chemistry would generally be preferred over a student with SL courses in these same subjects. Students with a stronger background in math and science often do better in our engineering programs. The two most important courses would be mathematics and physics. While chemistry is a required course for our engineering programs, only a few of our engineering programs extensively use a knowledge of chemistry. For example, Software Engineering does not need quite as strong a background in chemistry as Nanotechnology Engineering.

        We do not simply rank students and take the top students from the ranking. We do individual selection for the majority of our available spaces. We spend quite a bit of time examining applications, assessing information forms, and assessing interviews. There are other factors as well. We have adjustment factors to predict success rates and we have conversion charts for different grading schemes. The situation you described would be a difficult one. Scoring a 5 on the AIF is very difficult. We might choose the student with the 5 on the AIF over a student with a higher average and a lower AIF score. It might depend upon how the averages were obtained. If the 95% average student had great marks in mathematics and physics but a low mark in a 6th (non-specified) course, we might favour the 95% average student. As you suggest, our process is more nuanced.

        Our process tends to be very good at selecting students who will succeed in our engineering programs. It generally rewards students who work hard and excel at what they do, regardless of the challenge.

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  7. Dear Mr. Bishop,
    Thank you for the timely response!
    How significant (if significant at all) are contest scores in the admission process (Euclid and CCC) for Computer Engineering? The waterloo website suggests that they are factored in the Software Engineering admission process, is this true?

    Are these contest scores factored into the AIF score or is it added to the admission average (School average + AIF + Video Interview)?

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    1. Awards and contest scores can play a role in the engineering admission process. Any awards or contest scores that you can report on your AIF will be factored into your AIF score. If the awards are significant, they are given some weight. If you won the high school science fair, this would be a relatively minor achievement unless your high school was very large. However, if you placed in the top 2% of all students in the Fermat Mathematics Competition in Grade 11, this would be a significant result that would be factored into your assessment. The number of skilled competitors in a competition is a factor in our assessments. International competitions generally have more participants making these competitions more difficult to win.

      For the Euclid Mathematics Competition, one problem we face in the Faculty of Engineering is that we may not know the results of the competition until after most student assessments are complete. The Euclid will be written this year on either April 3rd or April 4th, depending upon where you live. Grades will likely not be known until very close to our internal deadline for accepting students. The Faculty of Mathematics knows the results earlier than we do so they can factor the results into their admission decisions. The results can be a significant factor for programs such as Computer Science. For the Faculty of Engineering, we may be able to factor the results into our assessments late in the process for programs such as Software Engineering but there is no guarantee that we will. Sometimes, these competition results can be a factor in selecting scholarship recipients as well.

      We do ask that you report your intention to write competitions such as the Canadian Computing Competition and the Canadian Mathematics Competition in your AIF. Students who participate in such contests are often a good fit for our engineering programs.

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    2. I just wanted to speculate that because of the individual selection process, it’s quite possible both suggested student A and B are accepted, or both A and B are rejected, for other considerations that are not reflected in 3 statistics. The initial framing was that there’s only 1 seat for A and B, but there might actually be 2 or 0 seats for A and B.

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      1. Yes, it is quite possible that both students would be accepted. It is also possible (but highly unlikely) that both would be rejected. We do not reject many students with a 99% high school average. One thing that applicants often forget is that we accept more students than we admit. Some applicants get accepted but then decide to go elsewhere. Thankfully, we have years of statistics to help with predicting how many applicants to accept into a program. My predecessor was very good at predicting who would accept our admission offers. Time will tell whether I can replicate his success.

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  8. To get a (5 or 4.5) on the AIF do you HAVE to win an international/national competition or has there been cases where a student’s personal projects, internships, and essays were so good that they earned a 4.5 or 5 on the AIF?

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    1. It is possible to score a 5 on the AIF without winning a national or international competition. We assess the entire AIF looking for things that might distinguish an applicant. While it is possible for students to score well due to demonstrated excellence in a single activity, it is probably easier to score well with a strong combination of extra-curricular activities, awards, projects, and experiences. It is difficult to provide a simple formula for scoring well on any subjective assessment. Internally, we have some guidelines that we follow but with over 13,000 applications per year, there are always things that we have not anticipated. Our assessments are tough but fair.

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    1. This is a great question. There are many barriers to expanding our program offerings. For any university program, there are the typical challenges of finding suitable classrooms on campus, hiring qualified instructors and staff, and recruiting sufficient graduate students to assist with teaching. We also need to find housing for students, provide expanded medical services for students, and increase counseling services for students. To keep the university functioning well, we need to hire additional staff to maintain facilities, expand support services, and provide administrative support. For engineering programs, we have the additional challenges of obtaining sufficient lab spaces and lab equipment for experiential learning activities. For co-op programs, we have the additional challenge of finding suitable work term placements for all of our students. Program expansion also requires approval from the Faculty of Engineering, the University of Waterloo, and the provincial government. When building new teaching facilities, labs, and offices, we need to secure a substantial amount of funding. For example, our most recent building (E7) cost $88 million dollars to build. For these reasons and more, expansion is a challenging proposition that requires very careful planning.

      From a different perspective, the number of Ontario students pursuing university is expected to decline significantly over the next decade. We already saw some evidence of this decrease at the Ontario University Fair. This year’s fair attracted fewer students than previous years. Expansion doesn’t make sense if your applicant pool is declining.

      Students come to Waterloo to receive a quality education and they pay a substantial amount of money for their education. We owe it to students and their families to do our best to ensure that all of our students receive a quality education. Expansion plans must be carefully implemented to ensure that quality does not suffer.

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      1. The logistics of running a large business can be tough, this is granted. But when looked at under magnifying glass, it’s not much different from any large business. OHIP covers all students, therefore additional coverage is just another insurance backed benefit. Students can find housing on their own and many do, while dorms is a very expensive arrangement, therefore lucrative for the property owner. I am not seeing any real obstacles for expanding when there is 10:1 demand vs supply for your services.

        It is true that there was a tiny, statistically insignificant drop in 2014 and 2015 university enrollment in Ontario, but 2016 saw a compensating up-tick, so on average the growth in enrollment is continuing. Not at the same rate as in 2007-2012, but still there is growth. The graph follows very closely population growth of the province, so no surprises here. As the council of Ontario universities only published enrollment data up to 2017, I am curious, what sources other than fall fair can you cite in support of the assertion that enrollment is declining and expected to continue to decline, and significantly no less?

        The other reason you cited was lack of funding. With 57% of the UofW budget coming from tuition fees, and only 33% from the provincial grants, it is obviously in the best interests of the university to increase admissions. In layman terms if UofW admits more students, it gets more funding. What am I missing?

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      2. You seem to have missed a few very important points. We could ignore the realities of expansion if we didn’t guarantee certain services to our students. For example, we have a residence guarantee in first year. We cannot simply take in students and then tell them we do not have residences available for them. If first year students ask for residence, we must find them a spot in one of our university residences. There was a year when we did not have enough residence spaces available due to an unintended expansion of the incoming student class. The university was forced to rent spaces off-campus for students. It was not a very good situation.

        With respect to health services, you may be surprised to find out that OHIP does not cover all students. OHIP only covers permanent residents of Ontario. Out-of-province students and international students sometimes need health coverage as well. Also, insurance plans only look after payment of medical services. The issue of convenient access to medical services is a completely different issue. We have a medical facility on campus where students can be diagnosed and treated for minor illnesses by university funded doctors and nurses so that students do not need to visit a local hospital or health clinic. When we take in more students, we try to expand our service offerings proportionally to ensure that students have access to the services they need.

        With respect to the size of the Ontario student population, you can find some good data on the Education Facts website (http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/educationfacts.html) that shows that university student population is not expected to increase over the next 12 years. The number of Grade 12 students is much larger than the number of Grade 10 students. The number of Grade 10 students is much larger than the number of Grade 2 students. Incidentally, in 2013-14, there were over 212,000 Grade 12 students in the Province of Ontario. In the most recent report, there are only 189,000 Grade 12 students.

        With respect to funding, you are correct that the majority of our funding now comes from tuition fees. However, the provincial grant funding is not negligible. If we take in more students than our approved number from the Ministry of Education, we do not necessarily receive additional grant funding. The formula for funding is a bit complicated and far too complicated to explain in this forum. It is also a very uncertain process, particularly in a year when we have a new provincial government with new spending priorities. We will be able to predict grant funding better after a full budget has been released by the provincial government.

        The biggest point you seemed to miss was the hiring of faculty and staff to support students. The pool of applicants to faculty positions is relatively small. Faculty members must have a Ph.D. to be considered for a tenure-track faculty position. Rapid expansion would require us to hire faculty members who are not as strong as the ones we currently have employed. The same can also be said for finding qualified staff members.

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      3. Furthermore, university education is not just a “large business.” Universities are non-profit and have many many objectives, none of which are to maximize revenue less costs. Goals like ensuring a welcoming, nurturing, and healthy environment for students to learn and grow. Meeting quality standards. Making societal and community impact.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. “The pool of applicants to faculty positions is relatively small.” Could you clarify this? I believe many PhDs apply to limited faculty positions. Are you referring to the pool of qualified / desired / good-fit applicants out of all applicants? Or perhaps relatively small compared to student applicants to university/program seats?

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      5. Yes, finding the right fit is critical to success. Our university has found it difficult to attract high quality applicants to tenure-track faculty positions in certain areas of engineering. We will only hire a faculty member if they are a good fit. If we were a traditional business, we might fix the problem by offering higher salaries, attractive stock options, and better benefits. Alternatively, we might expand to a new region of the country to attract a new pool of talent much like Amazon did. As a publicly funded university, there are limits to what we can reasonably do.

        For a list of all the open faculty positions in Waterloo Engineering, check out the following website:
        https://uwaterloo.ca/engineering/faculty-and-staff/faculty-positions

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  9. I am a grade 9 student and attend one of the only two high schools in Peel region that exclusively focus on AP program. This school is highly selective and only accepts about 10% of applicants (about 800-1000 students apply for grade 9 admissions). The selection is based on English and Math entrance tests, application essay, grade 7 & 8 grade point average.

    I have heard from a lot of students that your grades in high school are likely to suffer because the AP program curricular is rigorous and advanced. Are students from AP schools at disadvantage compared to applications from normal schools who may have better grade point averages? My school is very demanding and I am usually studying 7 days a week to keep up with the course load and homework. The class average or median in the first term in my class is running at 97% (it is very competitive already). However, this will likely drop to around 90% in grade 11 and 12 as the AP courses get harder and more advanced (this is based on feedback from senior students). My teachers are relentless in giving homework and also very tough when marking.

    My question is – does University of Waterloo engineering admissions makes upward adjustments to AP grades or are the AP students at a disadvantage compared to students from other schools?

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    1. Students taking AP courses are often better prepared for our engineering programs. The AP courses will help you develop effective study habits and above-average critical thinking skills. When you attend university, these habits and skills will be valuable.

      We do not have a specific adjustment factor for AP courses. However, we always recommend that students highlight their participation in AP courses on their application so that we may take this into account when assessing a student. If we feel it is appropriate to do so, we can factor AP courses into the AIF score. We do not feel that students are disadvantaged by taking AP courses. The top students still do very well in AP courses.

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  10. Dear Professor Bishop,
    There has been a rumor going around that getting admitted into Computer Engineering as an alternative choice (first choice being Software Engineering), is going to be “impossible” or at least incredibly difficult this year. Is this true?

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    1. It is my understanding that for many years, we have been reluctant to give out a large number of alternative choice offers. We want as many students as possible to get offers to their first choice of program. It is important to remember that we give out more offers than we have spaces available. We track confirmation rates from one year to the next to help us estimate how many offers to make in a particular year to each program.

      This being said, we will make alternative offers in cases where we believe it makes sense to do so. Alternative offers are highly unlikely for our top tier programs. Alternative offers are slightly more likely for programs with large intakes or those programs with fewer applicants per available space.

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  11. Hello! Firstly, it’s amazing having such an interactive platform for prospective students. A lil’ Background: 105 Applicant, CBSE. So like the majority of students, my grade 12 results aren’t available by the required deadlines and so I have a few transcripts: grade 12 midterms, grade 12 predicted, grade 11 finals and grade 10 finals. If I would like to compare my chances with the graph above and other data available, which scores should I look at?

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    1. Thanks for the positive feedback!

      If you are an international student that will be applying on a student visa, the green line is most representative of the probability of an offer to any engineering program. We have a very high ratio of international applicants to available spaces. If you have Canadian citizenship or permanent residence status, the odds improve. I will make the comment that some programs are more likely to accept international students than others. I have a related blog post on the number of available spaces in each program for the 2018 incoming class. In general, the high demand programs (biomedical and software) are likely to have lower probabilities of acceptance. Other programs will have slightly higher probabilities of acceptance, even for international students.

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  12. Hello Sir,
    I have a question about the admissions form. Will our answers to the engineering section on the AIF be seen by the Math/Computer science admissions team?

    I am a bit confused about how I should distribute information across each of the questions.

    Thanks in advance!

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    1. At the University of Waterloo, we query AIF data from a central system. I would not expect the admissions team for the Faculty of Mathematics to ask for fields specific to the Faculty of Engineering. However, there is nothing preventing them from doing so.

      Answer each question in the space provided for each question. Be as concise as possible. Take your time and choose your words wisely.

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  13. Hello Sir, 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?

    Thanks.

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    1. There is no easy answer to your questions because every situation is subject to interpretation. If we know a required course was taken in summer school and if we believe this was done to obtain a higher overall average, we assign a penalty to your average. The amount of the penalty depends upon the situation but it can be up to 5% in the worst case scenario.

      The AIF can be very useful in our assessment of the situation. For a situation such as the one you described, you would be replacing IB physics in your core schedule with an equally difficult IB science course. This would not typically be viewed as taking a lighter course load to boost your overall average. A penalty would be unlikely, provided the situation was explained well in the AIF. You would need to clearly indicate that your schedule prevented you from taking the third science course in your regular schedule.

      In general, I would not drop the IB program as I believe it has value. It would be better to complete the IB program in the situation you described than to drop the IB program to find a way to fit Grade 12 Physics in your regular schedule.

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  14. Hello Sir.
    I have a couple of questions regarding the alternate choices. I have been contemplating whether or not I should apply to Biomedical Engineering or Systems Design Engineering. Right now, I have selected Biomedical Engineering as one of my programs on OUAC. I’ve been doing extensive research, and I feel as though there’s a strong chance I will not be accepted into this program (my average for this semester is approximately 92.2%). Would it be safe to have Systems Design Engineering as my alternates on the AIF? These are two of my top engineering choices, and I am wondering, given the competitiveness of SYDE, whether or not it would be safe have it as my alternate. Will there be a chance to be accepted to SYDE if it’s my alternate, or is it safer to have SYDE as my preferred program on OUAC?

    Thank you in advance.

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    1. You should always apply to the program you are most interested in studying. It is impossible to know which program will be hardest to get into in any particular year. While we know the data for the previous years, there is no guarantee that student demand won’t change significantly from one year to the next.

      Also, we look at more than just admission averages when assessing students for programs. If you are passionate about a program, you will do better on your AIF and your (optional) online interview. I recommend doing research into the programs prior to applying. Make sure you know what the programs teach you and what your career prospects might resemble after graduation.

      Both BME (Biomedical Engineering) and SYDE (Systems Design Engineering) are highly competitive programs. Neither is a safe pick but this would also be true of most engineering programs at the University of Waterloo. However, all applicants that apply to the programs will be considered. We may reject students with a 95% average but also accept students with a 90% average. We do not use a simple average cut-off. We examine all applications carefully in an attempt to ensure that students have the skills necessary to be successful in our programs.

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  15. Hey sir, I have all of my required courses for engineering such as Chemistry, English, Advanced Functions being done this semester and Physics and Calculus next semester. I only took one summer course in which I did really well in but it was not one of the 5 courses required for admission. Would you still adjust the mark regardless that it is not a required class. I scored 100% in that class and I had to do it in the summer since my guidance counsellor accidentally scheduled my class in the summer and gave me a spare for me that period instead. So being that I got 100% and this class was not a required class, how much would my mark get adjusted with my reasoning as well taken into consideration. By the way the class was challenge and change in society (4U course)

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    1. Since the course is not a required course, taking the course in the summer would likely have no significant impact upon your admission average. We would calculate your admission average using the five required courses and one other 4U or 4M course.

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      1. Just a little confused. So does that mean you would count the summer class as it is because it is a 4U/M class or would you pick another class instead with a lower mark for my calculated average. Because I was hoping that if the mark is not adjusted at all, that it could be the other class that is used for my calculated average outside of the 5 required ones? Thank You for replying

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  16. Hey sir its me again. I have 3 courses completed of the 5 mandatory courses. I have calculus second semester so what course would you use to calculate the average instead of calculus for early admission. What grade 11 mark would you look at to replace calculus for early admission because i have calculus second semester. Would you look at advanced functions or calculate my average for 3 courses instead.

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  17. Hi sir,
    I was wondering if having a spare would affect my chances for 2019 engineering admissions. I currently have 8 courses, but I am thinking of dropping one of the courses that I do not need, if it does not affect my chances of getting into Waterloo.
    Thank you.

    Like

    1. It depends on what you use the extra time to do. Some students use spares to serve as a volunteer, to participate in extra-curricular activities, or to work part-time. Some students use spares for mental breaks. Some students use spares to study. We try to assess how you used your time to determine if you lightened your workload to boost your grades. If we can see a reasonably good reason for the spare, it will not affect your chances at all. I would not expect most students to be penalized for taking spares. It is a very common occurrence since many students applying to Waterloo Engineering are heavily involved in extra-curricular activities.

      If it helps, I had spares in my final year of studies and I was accepted into our Computer Engineering program. I used the spares to do extra-curricular activities that I wrote about on my AIF.

      Like

  18. Dear Mr. Bishop,

    My father has a job in Canada at an international org. Am I considered international applicants or Canadian applicants? I don’t need student visa.

    Like

    1. You are only considered an international applicant if you require a student visa to study in Canada. If you have Canadian Citizenship or if you are a Permanent Resident of Canada, you are not considered to be an international applicant.

      Like

  19. Hello Mr. Bishop, I am currently a grade 12 student attending Miramichi Valley High School in New Brunswick. I am applying for admission into the Mechatronics program and currently have a 96 average. Due to the adjustment factors that Waterloo implements, is it remotely possible to even be considered for acceptance if a factor of ~26% is going to be applied to my average? I wrote the SAT with the hopes of offsetting this slightly and got 1430; will that score have any bearing on my chances or the adjustment factor?

    Like

    1. I am glad that you asked this question. Adjustment factors and entrance averages vary from one year to the next so it is very difficult to predict exactly what will be required, in any particular year. Remember that grades are just one of many factors that we consider when offering admission to applicants. In any given year, we may reject an applicant with a 96% average but accept another applicant with a 92% average. In fact, individuals with much lower averages (or highly adjusted averages) do get into our programs. I did some research and I found evidence of students who were admitted to the Mechatronics program at Waterloo with entrance averages less than 85%. I also found evidence of students who were admitted to the Mechatronics program at Waterloo having previously studied at your high school.

      I would definitely encourage you to apply to Waterloo Engineering for Mechatronics if this is what you wish to do. I expect the New Brunswick adjustment factor to be lower this year. It is my understanding that last year was an anomaly that was perhaps related to the introduction of a new curriculum. Anytime a new curriculum is introduced (in any school), there are some issues that take time to resolve.

      Your SAT score also provides us with some additional information that we can use to assess your level of preparation for our program. Definitely include this score on your application.

      Like

  20. Hello Mr. Bishop,
    I am applying for mechanical engineering this year and am interested in robotics. My school board (and region) however do not offer any FIRST robotics programs. Should I put this under the circumstances section of my AIF, or is it reserved for strictly academic reasons?
    Thank you.

    Like

    1. You can put anything in the special circumstances section that you feel is relevant to the consideration of your application. I will say that participation in FIRST Robotics is common but it is certainly not a requirement for admission to the Mechatronics Engineering program.
      Participation in FIRST Robotics would have very little impact on the assessment of an applicant unless the applicant could demonstrate a positive outcome. An example of a positive outcome would be learning a valuable skill (e.g., programming, circuit design, teamwork, leadership, etc.) by participating in a competition. Alternatively, winning a competition at the regional level or higher would demonstrate a level of mastery of the skills necessary for the competition.

      Like

  21. Dear Professor Bishop,
    I am sophomore transfer applicant from a university in the United States.
    I would like to seek your advice regarding with the extracurricular section.
    Do I have to fill in it only with the activities in high school?
    The reason why I am asking this question is because … four years passed since I graduated from high school ( served my country for two years and spent almost two years at my current university) I would like to add my current activities of the university to the section but it seems only require extracurricular activities from high school.

    Like

    1. You definitely should include all extra-curricular activities including the most recent ones. I would also mention that you have (presumably) completed your required service to your country. Our forms often provide examples that are most relevant to high school students since the majority of our applicants are high school students. You should also make a case for why you want to transfer to the University of Waterloo. We do not actively recruit students from other universities but when we find a qualified applicant with a very good reason to move to our university, we are happy to accept them.

      Like

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