For U.S. High School Students

It has been quite some time since I last posted to my blog.  The Fall 2019 admission cycle came to a close at the end of August and we have now started the Fall 2020 admission cycle.  I thought I should start off the Fall 2020 admission cycle with a post specifically for students studying south of the border since the application process has already opened for out-of-province students.

For U.S. high school students potentially interested in applying to Waterloo Engineering, here are a few important things to remember:

Why Should I Consider Waterloo Engineering?

Waterloo Engineering has a strong international reputation.  We are known for our innovative co-op program which requires engineering students to complete paid internships at companies around the world.  Our students obtain 2 years of practical work experience while completing their academic studies.  Many of our co-op students and alumni are employed in the U.S..  Our campus is modern and our facilities are state-of-the-art.  Our university ranks as one of the top undergraduate engineering schools in Canada.



Does Waterloo Engineering Attend U.S. College Fairs?

Waterloo Engineering does participate in a limited number of U.S. College Fairs.  This year, we plan on attending four U.S. college fairs in the following cities:

How Do Students Educated in the U.S. Apply?

The University of Waterloo is not listed on the Common Application used by many U.S. colleges and universities and a few Canadian universities.  Our applications are processed by a province-wide application centre known as the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre (OUAC).  Students with Canadian citizenship (including Canadians who have lived in the U.S. their entire lives) apply using Form 105 Domestic (105D).  Such students compete directly with Canadian students educated in Canada for spaces reserved for Canadian students.  Students with non-Canadian citizenship apply using Form 105 International (105F).  Such students compete directly with international students for spaces reserved for international students.

When Can U.S. Students Apply?

The application process is now open.  U.S. students may complete their application anytime between now and January, 31, 2020.  All supporting documents must be received no later than February 28, 2020.  Incomplete applications will not be considered.

How Will I Be Assessed?

All applicants are requested to provide transcripts and SAT / ACT scores.  In addition, applicants are required to complete an Admission Information Form (AIF) and applicants are invited to complete an online video interview.  Our Engineering Admissions Team examines all information provided to make an informed assessment about each applicant.  We individually select applicants to ensure fit within our engineering programs.

When Are Acceptance Letters Sent Out?

Waterloo Engineering typically sends out its final round of acceptance letters in the middle of May, shortly after 2nd semester midterm grades have been processed.  This year, it is our goal to ensure that students applying from the U.S. receive an admission decision by the end of March, if possible.  We recognize that students applying to U.S. colleges and universities often have much earlier deadlines for acceptance.  We will attempt to provide U.S. students with an admission decision so that they make an informed decision about their future.

Will I Pay International Tuition Fees or Domestic Tuition Fees?

If you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, you pay domestic tuition fees.  International students are eligible to pay domestic tuition fees if they are dependent upon a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.  In other words, if your parents hold Canadian citizenship or permanent residency in Canada, you pay domestic tuition fees even if you are a U.S. citizen or an international student.  All other students are required to pay international tuition fees.

Can 529 Plans Be Used By Students?

The University of Waterloo is a FAFSA eligible school.  However, some restrictions apply to the use of U.S. federal student aid.  Students may use 529 plans to pay tuition and other eligible expenses incurred at the University of Waterloo.  For those with 529 plans, our OPE ID is 00852600.

10 thoughts on “For U.S. High School Students”

  1. Hi,
    I am a U.S. student that is getting a U.S. Diploma and an IB Diploma, meaning I have both U.S. grades and IB scores at the same time. I would like to know how this would affect me in terms of applying.
    Thank You!


    1. When we receive your transcipts, our admissions officers will use both sets of grades to calculate your overall average. If you have IB scores for required courses, these will be used. For courses not taken in IB, we will use your U.S. grades in your average calculation. As a U.S. student, you should also report SAT or ACT scores as well since you will likely have them. The SAT / ACT scores may help you if you have a good SAT / ACT score in a particular area but a slightly lower grade.

      There is a standard scale for converting IB grades to percentage grades that we use. I believe I linked to the conversion scale in my blog last year.


      1. Thank You!
        A follow-up question: If I receive an offer of admission, will I have a conditional offer that is dependent on my US School Grades (and AP Calc score) or my IB Scores?


      2. Offer conditions relate to any courses / exams in progress and your overall average. AP exams, IB scores, and U.S. school grades could all be subject to various conditions. However, we set our conditions at a level that should not be a problem for most applicants. Out of all the applicants we accept, only a handful of them fail to meet our conditions. Usually, when an applicant fails to meet our conditions, the applicant was already near the conditions at the time of acceptance.


  2. Hello Prof. Bishop,
    Thanks for your informative and educational posts. I have a son currently studying in US with Canadian citizenship. His school is not using percentage grades, but a 4 scaled grade system (A=4.0=90%-100%, B=3.0=80%-89.9%, +/- not used). Only letter grades (A, B…etc) and GPA out of 4.0 with no percentage grades will be reported on the transcript. 90% is equivalent to 100% in this case.

    If we look at the Software Engineering admission requirements for US System students on web:
    “AP Calculus (or equivalent), AP Physics (or equivalent), Algebra (Pre-Calculus), Chemistry, Grade 12 English, and one other Grade 12 academic course, minimum final grade of 75% in each. Minimum final average of 88% in the six required courses. SATs or ACTs required.”

    1. How will his grades be considered to meet the admission requirements e.g. average 88% in the 6 required courses? How will his grades be compared to the ones of high 90% (i.e. over 95%)? Would the grade system have a disadvantage for him to apply for admission?
    2.Can “one other grade 12 academic course” be considered as another AP course taken in any grade or a course taken in G12? I am asking this is because in Canada, all AP courses are G12 courses, however, US kids may take AP courses in any grade.
    3. I understand my son will compete with the kids in the domestic application pool. In terms of academic achievements, how well should he achieve in SAT/ACT and the six required courses to be considered equivalent to average 95%+ kids in Canada?


    1. These are great questions.

      The first thing to note is that students from the Ontario Secondary School (OSS) system are evaluated slightly differently from those in the non-Ontario Secondary School (NOSS) system. This is just one of many steps we take to ensure the fair assessment of applicants. We realize it is not fair to compare an applicant that can achieve 100% within their school system to an applicant that can only achieve 95% within their school system.

      When we calculate an average for a U.S. applicant from the GPA system, we approximate a grade of A as 95%, a grade of A- as 91%, a grade of B+ as 89%, a grade of B as 85%, and a grade of B- as 81%. This is subject to change from year-to-year based on what we observe in previous years. When we look at the application file, we can tell which grading scheme has been used and the grading scheme may be a factor in our assessment. In other words, if an applicant has straight A’s in this system, we understand that 95% is the highest average an applicant may obtain. We did have a U.S. applicant from the GPA system get into Software Engineering last year. One of the reasons why we have such a large average range for accepted students is that we understand that an average is simply the starting point for the assessment of an applicant.

      For Software Engineering, the minimum grades never seem to matter much. All applicants offered admission are well above the floor. The only grade that is sometimes a concern is the English grade where a 75% threshold can be a challenge to achieve in certain situations. The 88% average can be a significant challenge for certain applicants applying to engineering programs other than Software Engineering and Biomedical Engineering. U.S. applicants should have a majority of grades of A- or better to realistically have a chance of admission to any engineering program. We have quite a few U.S. applicants that would satisfy these requirements.

      The question about Grade 12 is a common misconception, largely due to the fact that it is difficult to write statements that apply well to all school systems. In Ontario, our students regularly take Grade 12 courses in Grade 11. It is the content that matters, not the year in which the course is actually taken. An AP course is considered to be a senior level course, even if it is taken in an earlier grade.

      Your son will compete in the domestic pool but it will be the domestic pool of NOSS applicants. There will be Canadians from provinces other than Ontario and Canadians residing in other countries in this pool but rarely Canadians from Ontario. Canadians residing in other countries face similar challenges to your son so equal assessment is relatively straightforward in these cases. The bigger competition will be Canadians from provinces such as BC and Alberta. However, they often study under a school system that is also very different from the one used in Ontario.

      With respect to SAT / ACT scores, we tell applicants that we are looking for their scores to be in the 75th percentile. We do not use SAT / ACT scores as a hard requirement. We mostly use the SAT / ACT scores to verify the high school grades. If a student does well in high school, they probably should do well on standardized test scores.


      1. Hi Prof. Bishop,
        Thanks for your time and quick reply. For NOSS applicants in domestic pool like my son, approximately, how many spaces are available for software engineering, computer engineering and mechatronics? What are the admission rates?


      2. We do not have a firm breakdown of the number of positions in one pool versus another. We try to ensure that we are accepting applicants of similar quality from all pools of applicants. Often, this means that we may move our targets from one pool to the next if we find that one pool is weaker than another. However, when applicants are assessed, they are really only directly competing against people within the same applicant pool.

        The Software Engineering program is the most selective program. Computer Engineering and Mechatronics Engineering are larger programs that accept more students. The admission rates for these programs tend to be higher than Software Engineering. The best way of assessing chances would be to check out my blog post on Chances of Admission for Fall 2020. While the data is taken from the Ontario Secondary School applicant pool, I would say the chances of admission for NOSS would likely be similar. I can’t really compute more accurate results for the NOSS domestic applicant pool since the number of NOSS domestic applicants is relatively small causing the data to fluctuate significantly from one year to the next. I looked at doing the calculations but it became apparent that the sample size was simply too small to produce meaningful graphs.

        I will say that with the number of students graduating from Ontario Secondary Schools decreasing, we are increasingly looking towards NOSS domestic applicants to fill our domestic spaces. This means that out-of-province Canadian and permanent resident applicants will be more likely to get offers of admission this year. In my opinion, it is a very good year to be an applicant to Waterloo Engineering.


  3. Hi,
    I applied this year from outside of Ontario, and I would like to note that OUAC now groups all applications from outside of Ontario in a single 105 application rather than splitting it into 105D and 105F as they previously did.


    1. Yes, the admission process is not static. Sometimes, it is difficult to update our websites, blogs, and publications to keep up with the changes. Thank you for confirming this change. I was aware it was coming through the pipeline.


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