Waitlist Inquiries

The Engineering Admissions Office has received quite a few inquiries over the past week regarding our waitlists for admission to engineering programs and our waitlists for transfers to other engineering programs.  We have added many applicants to our waitlists.  It is natural for some applicants to immediately question whether they have made the right decision.  Applicants often benefit from having some time to think about the choice they have made.  To facilitate this cooling off period, we have not begun to process our waitlists.

In practice, very few students get an offer from our waitlists.  We will be able to satisfy a few requests to transfer from programs that are over target to programs that are under target and we may be able to satisfy a few waitlist requests to under target programs.  If we find that a large number of applicants cannot meet their offer conditions, additional spaces may become available later this summer but this is a rare occurrence.  If you are selected from one of our waitlists, you will be contacted by a representative of our university.

This year, we experienced higher than normal acceptance rates for certain applicants so 11 programs are above target and only 3 programs are below target.  While we know that some students will not meet our offer conditions and some students may not be able to secure student visas, we do not anticipate many waitlist opportunities to be satisfied this year.  Overall, I estimate the Faculty of Engineering is about 10.2% above our official targets for incoming students.  Despite being slightly over target, Waterloo Engineering  will still be able to meet our commitments and deliver a high-quality education to all students who have accepted our offers.

Parents and students might be concerned that we will try to fail out more students than usual since we are over target.  This is simply not the case.  Waterloo Engineering does not attempt to shrink programs by enforcing failure rates.  Professors have a great deal of autonomy when creating, delivering, and assessing courses.  Professors set exams and expectations independent of class size.  Waterloo Engineering does not have the ability to enforce failure rates (or success rates) in engineering programs.

When Waterloo Engineering accepts students into an engineering program, we guarantee a place for them in their program of study through to completion.  Students must pass their courses but we will not make courses more challenging to shrink class sizes.  Logically, since the university is mostly funded by student tuition fees, there is no  motivation for failing students.  Thankfully, most professors do take their jobs and academic integrity very seriously.  The tenure process also ensures that professors have the autonomy they require to ensure academic integrity.  Otherwise, universities would probably be strongly motivated to pass everyone.

I am not able to disclose which programs are below target as doing so would perhaps give the wrong impression that these programs are either less popular or less desirable.  Programs can miss targets for a number of reasons.  Even high demand programs sometimes miss target.  For a high demand program, we expect most students to accept our admission offers.  A slight drop in acceptance rates can make it very easy for a high demand program to miss target.

A few applicants have already asked for the lifting of offer conditions.  Unless there are extenuating circumstances, we will be strictly enforcing our offer conditions.  These conditions have been established to ensure the success of applicants in our programs.  Our hope is that all students admitted to Waterloo Engineering will eventually graduate from their chosen program and become proud alumni of the University of Waterloo.  Shown below is a photo of the Graduate House taken late last week.


2 thoughts on “Waitlist Inquiries”

  1. Hello, Professor Bishop. Will we receive a decision on August for waitlist? That’s what the engineering faculty told me.


    1. Applicants selected for available spaces and/or transfers will be notified as soon as we can process them. If you are successful, you will likely be notified prior to August as we will want to provide you with sufficient time to make plans. We do not generally tell students if they have not been selected simply due to the volume of requests. However, I will try to post to my blog when all decisions have been made.


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