With the Ontario Universities’ Fair starting in less than 24 hours, I thought I would attempt to answer the most frequent question asked of any admission officer:
What are my chances of receiving an offer of admission?
This is not an easy question to answer since every applicant is different. Good grades are one consideration for admission but we also look at many other factors including previous employment, volunteer work, extra-curricular activities, skills, and notable achievements. We can use good grades as a starting point for the discussion but we obviously look beyond grades to select applicants who will be highly successful in our programs. This is why Waterloo Engineering does not simply accept applicants with the top grades and why students with lower admission averages still have a reasonable chance of receiving an offer of admission to some of our top engineering programs.
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. I continued this transition with my blog post last Fall on the Chances of Admission for Fall 2019. In our brochures, we estimate the probability of an applicant receiving acceptance based on several years of application trends. We try to make the projections as realistic as possible but the projections often tend to be a bit conservative. Not all programs grouped together have exactly the same probabilities. The projections tend to be most accurate for the top program in a grouping. The most recent admission average probabilities can be found in my blog post on Competitiveness.
Using the applicant data for the Fall 2019 admission cycle, I have produced graphs that show the probability of receiving an offer of admission to Waterloo Engineering programs. All of our engineering programs have been put into three groups as follows:
- Group 1: Biomedical and Software
- Group 2: Computer, Electrical, Mechanical, Mechatronics, and Systems Design
- Group 3: Architectural, Chemical, Civil, Environmental, Geological, Management, and Nanotechnology
The first graph summarizes the probability of an admission offer for Canadians and permanent residents applying from the Ontario Secondary School system. This graph is shown below:
The second graph summarizes the probability of an admission offer for visa students applying from the Ontario Secondary School system. The probabilities tend to be much lower for visa students due to the high number of applicants per available space. However, high average students still have a very reasonable chance of receiving an offer of admission, even to our most competitive programs. This graph is shown below:
These graphs include a small number of applicants who receive offers to their second choice program instead of their first choice program. I debated whether these applicants should be included in the graphs but I felt it would be inappropriate to remove them.
I used a slightly different mathematical approach than the one used in previous years. I used a free software add-on to Excel from SRS1 Software to interpolate data points throughout the admission average range of 80% to 100% using a one-way spline function. This approach allowed me to produce relatively smooth curves that are monotonically increasing as the admission average increases.
These graphs represent the best projections we can make regarding the Fall 2020 admission cycle. Until we receive our final application data in February 2020, we won’t know if the application pool is similar to last year’s application pool. If it is, then these projections are likely to be accurate. If applications increase (or decrease), the probabilities of receiving an admission offer to a program will change accordingly.