A Quick Update from My New Office

I thought I would give you a quick update from my new admissions office in my basement.  My computer desk can be seen in the photograph below.  The curious diagram behind my monitor was a 4th year project in VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration) design that my team built when I was a student of Computer Engineering at the University of Waterloo.  The schematic implements a 4 bit ALU (Arithmetic and Logic Unit) in CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor) technology.

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Our early round of admission is nearly completed.  Despite some very challenging circumstances, we managed to successfully select many outstanding applicants to receive admission offers to Waterloo Engineering for Fall 2020.

Offers are first communicated on Quest.  Official offer letters with conditions will be communicated as soon as possible.  Applicants may also be contacted by individual departments.  Please be patient.  I know all applicants are anxious to find out more.  We are doing the best that we can.  It has been incredibly difficult for our team to focus on their work given all of the extraordinary events that have been occurring throughout the world.  I really wish to thank everyone involved in assessing applicants and communicating offers to applicants.  In particular, I must thank Mirjana and Leigh for their hard work.  I know they worked long hours through the weekends to meet our deadlines.

If you have not yet received an offer of admission, do not give up hope.  There are still some early round offers that I expect to be processed this week.  Also, we still have many admission offers to give out to ALL of our Waterloo Engineering programs.  We still have room for many great students in our programs.  Quite a few applicants will receive good news in early May when we complete our final round of admissions.

One other thing to keep in mind is that we finalize all of our scholarship decisions in May when we complete our final round of admissions.  If you have received an offer of admission in the early round, you will only know the grid scholarship (Merit Scholarship, President’s Scholarship, or President’s Scholarship of Distinction) that you have been selected to receive at this time.  If your grades improve between now and May, your grid scholarship may be upgraded.  In addition to a grid scholarship, students may also be selected for a named scholarship in early May.

Finally, for those who like to ask theoretical questions, your grid scholarship will not be downgraded if your grades decrease for any reason.  Once you have been offered a grid scholarship, it is never downgraded.  However, if your grades fall too much, you may run the risk of having your admission offer revoked.  You still have to meet the conditions on your offer letter.

57 thoughts on “A Quick Update from My New Office”

  1. If schools are closed till May, how will this affect decisions coming out in may? Especially as midterm marks wont be given out.

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    1. It is difficult to predict the future given the global pandemic. I suspect most applicant marks will remain the same. We will simply continue the admissions process by offering admission to the remaining applicants that are viewed to be the best until we project that we will meet our targets for Fall 2020.

      Of course, there could be many things that change between now and May. We will just have to wait and see what happens.

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  2. Do you know what percentage of applications went out? Also are there any delays in individual programs. There has been a lot of confusion around mechatronics applications on the forums.

    One more question, do offers stop going out at midnight, or at 5 like some people have claimed?

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    1. I have already answered your first few questions in comments to other students on my blog. To summarize briefly, over 50% of our admission offers were given out for each program. There were no delays in any program. Admission offers to Mechatronics were given out. It was a highly competitive program so some great applicants remain in our pool.

      I would like to address the last question in more detail. We do not have any set time at which offers stop going out. If someone is working late, offers could go out after 5 pm. It may also be the case that all offers have gone out by 3 pm on a particular day. Our Admissions Officers code offers until they are done their list. Based on information I was just provided, I believe almost all offers have gone out now. We are waiting on information for a few more offers and there is one more NOSS offer that I authorized today but the early admission round is largely complete.

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  3. In the past, what percentage of students who do not get into their first choice program are accepted into their second choice program rather than rejected?

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    1. I do not know the percentage but it is a very small percentage. This year, we are likely going to increase the percentage for various reasons but I still expect the number of students receiving offers to second choice programs to be small.

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  4. Hello Professor Bishop,

    Is there any information indicating that midterm marks won’t be updated on the OUAC or not considered by the University of Waterloo? If so, why? Most courses have already completed around 6 weeks in class which should still give a decent idea of what their midterm mark would be if school would’ve resumed following March break.

    Thanks for your help.

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    1. If we receive updated marks, we will of course consider them. You are thinking solely about your situation. We have applicants from all over the world. There are some provinces and countries where the current marks are now the final marks. From our perspective, we will do what we always do. When it comes time to do our final round assessments, we will look at our most recent data for all applicants.

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  5. Hi Professor Bishop,
    Thanks a lot for your great upgrade! I have a question about the offer. I’ve been admitted to my first choice, but after a deeper researching, I found that I could have better achievements in my second choice. Can I apply to change my offer to my second choice? My two choices are almost similar. Thank you!

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    1. We do not permit students to change programs once they have been given an offer. The only mechanism that exists is one that I would discourage. If you decline your current offer of admission, we can consider you for a space in your 2nd choice program. However, this opens up the possibility that you may not receive an offer of admission at all.

      Last year, several of the students who pursued this option found themselves without an offer of admission to Waterloo Engineering. There are two reasons for this happening. First, your AIF is presumably tailored to your first choice program. Second, many spots have already been filled in your 2nd choice program by the time you have asked for reconsideration.

      I would generally recommend that you continue on your path towards your first choice program. Many engineering programs have similarities. Also, there are ways to make a program resemble another program by taking elective courses and options. For example, a Computer Engineer can take almost all of the courses that an Electrical Engineer would study without taking additional study terms.

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  6. Hello Professor Bishop,

    I was wondering if it was possible to get your adjustment factor changed from let’s say 14 to 16.3 (the average) in one year because not enough people went to Waterloo from the school for the last or even past few years?

    Thank You,
    Troy Rosarian

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    1. Adjustment factors definitely do change from one year to the next. It would be a mistake to assume that a school has an adjustment factor different from the provincial average. Statistically speaking, any school with an adjustment factor is an outlier.

      Every year, some schools are added to the list and some schools are removed from the list.

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  7. Hello Professor Bishop,

    I have a question regarding the adjustment factor. Is the adjustment factor the average of all the years, or is it only specific to that year?

    Thank you

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    1. The adjustment factor is a statistical measure that encompasses data from a 6 year window. Each year, adjustment factors are updated using available student performance data.

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  8. Hope your having a good day Prof. Bishop,

    So Ontario students applying to university have recently been informed that the due date to submit mid term marks (April 23rd) will not change and proceed as planned. However, they added that these grades can be replaced if there is an improvement.

    My question is will the admissions team look at the improved grades or only the ones entered in on April 23rd when deciding May round offers?

    Thanks!

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  9. Hello,
    Hope you are having a great day!

    Suppose an international student applied to 2 different programs: One in the Arts and Sciences and the other in Engineering. Assuming the student got accepted into both the programs, would you recommend for the student to decline the offer for one program so that the scholarship money can be maximized for the other program rather than it just being awarded to both programs without helping that much in financial aid ultimately for either program? So, for instance, would you recommend the student to decline the offer of admission for Arts and Sciences so that the student can get maximum funds as scholarships for Engineering as financial aid is very important to the student? Does it work that way?

    Thank you!

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    1. Scholarship offers are made independently by both programs. Declining one admission offer has no effect upon the size of the scholarship given in another admission offer. Waterloo Engineering uses your grades, your AIF score and your interview score when determining which scholarship you will be offered. When we assess students for scholarships in our final round of admissions, we will offer you the best entrance scholarship package that we can at the time. Generally speaking, our scholarships are smaller than our direct competitors. Our co-op program offsets some of the costs of your education by providing you with access to paid internships in your desired profession. These co-op internships generally pay much better than typical summer jobs.

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  10. Hello Professor Bishop,

    I recently got accepted and would like to ask about program switches. For switching programs, will the admissions office use the same total score from the time of acceptance (March), that includes first semester Grade 12 marks and Grade 11 marks, the AIF score, and the interview score? Or will they possibly also consider new midterm marks and recalculate the average? Thank you.

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    1. Switching from one Waterloo Engineering program to another after acceptance is difficult, if not impossible. We only allow applicants to switch programs if space is available in the desired program. We only consider space to be available in a program if the program has missed its official target. This is extremely rare for most Waterloo Engineering programs.

      Students commonly confuse targets with classroom space. The two numbers are only loosely correlated. Clearly, the number of classroom seats must be greater than or equal to the program target. However, it is quite often the case that we have many more seats in our classrooms than our program targets.

      When we look to fill a last minute opening in a program, we use the latest grade information available to us. We may also have students on a waiting list for the desired program including students in other university programs waiting to transfer into the desired program. Available spaces are filled with the top ranked applicants.

      You should only accept an offer of admission if you are willing to study that program for the duration of your studies. If this is not the case, you should consider offers at other universities that offer a common first year program (with greater flexibility) or a more desirable program of study. Waterloo Engineering is not the best fit for all applicants.

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  11. Hi Professor,

    for this year, will it generally be harder to get an offer for may round of admissions or easier? (considering more than 50% of offers have been sent out)

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    1. There is no reason to believe that giving out more offers of admission in the early round will have any noticeable effect on the probability of any applicant receiving an offer of admission at the end of our admission process. The graphs previously posted on my blog provide estimates of the probabilities of admission at the end of the admission process. The graphs provide the best estimates that can be made at this time.

      To use a probability argument, if a coin toss has a 50/50 chance of being flipped to heads, this probability holds true for the next toss of the coin, regardless of what previous results have been observed.

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  12. Hi Prof,

    Since restrictions due to COVID-19 will likely persists for the coming months has your office considered that a larger number of students will differ/reject offers? If this is the case is it likely the department will be making more offers than usual to counteract this?

    thanks

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    1. The University of Waterloo continues to monitor the global pandemic and its impact upon our campus community. Our primary concern at this time is the safety of our students, staff, faculty, alumni, and our global community. We must work together to minimize the effects of the global pandemic and to ultimately find solutions to the problems we are facing. It is a very difficult time for many members of our community.

      At the present time, we do not plan to significantly alter our admission process for Fall 2020 for Waterloo Engineering. The only noticeable impact so far has been a shift from on-campus events (e.g., March Break Open House, You@Waterloo Day, Campus Tours, etc.) to online events. Several videos have been posted online highlighting our programs and our campus. Interactive webinars have been planned for applicants receiving offers of admission.

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  13. Is it too late for a student to request early consideration if they have an offer from another university that requires a response prior to May 1st?

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    1. We are unable to process any more admission offers to Waterloo Engineering until the final round of admission.

      In many cases, applicants can simply accept an offer to another university and then decline the offer at a later date without penalty. If your current admission offer is for another university in Ontario, the university cannot ask you to financially commit to their program prior to June 1st. If your current admission offer is to a university outside of Ontario, the university may ask you for a non-refundable deposit. The latter situation is more problematic.

      Sometimes, other universities will allow you to ask for an extension to their deadline. I would suggest asking for an extension, if possible. Not all universities will do this for you but some may. Given the global pandemic, universities may be more willing to grant an extension to a top applicant. I suspect there will be quite a bit of flexibility this year with respect to admissions at all Canadian universities.

      I will say that we still have many admission offers to go out in our final round for all Waterloo Engineering programs. While we gave out more early round offers than in previous years, we still have a long way to go before reaching our targets.

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  14. If I were to accept an offer from another faculty at University of Waterloo, would I still be able to be considered for engineering?

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    1. Absolutely!

      We have no easy way of knowing if an applicant has accepted an offer from another faculty. Our database only tracks application data relevant to Waterloo Engineering. However, if we knew that you had accepted an offer elsewhere, we would still hope that an offer to Waterloo Engineering would be interesting enough to change your decision.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Hi Mr Bishop,
    I want to know if having a grade of 89% is bad for mechatronics engineering also what is the cut off mark for Nanotechnology and computer engineering this year

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    1. We do not have cutoff marks in the final round of admissions. Last year, several applicants to Mechatronics were accepted with averages below 89%. One grade of 89% is unlikely to significantly hurt your chances of admission.

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  16. Hello Professor Bishop, if we have significant circumstances or achievements that are more recent and were therefore not put on the AIF, is there a good way to let the admissions office know about them? Thanks!

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    1. Often, a late achievement will have a negligible impact upon your assessment. Applicants who are high achievers have often already maxed out their scores for activities and fit. There is no harm in sending an e-mail to us but it is unlikely to make much of a difference based on past experience.

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  17. Hello professor,

    Last year, in grade 11, I did not do well at all. This year however, I have been putting in effort and my grades have went up significantly. For example, I had a 75% in english last year and 97% this year. Will waterloo flag this as a factor of concern?

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    1. Any large change in grades can be a potential concern. When we see a large increase in grades, we carefully review your AIF to determine if a valid reason exists for the change.

      For example, if an applicant was ill during Grade 11, we would not adjust the grades of the applicant. However, if we saw a large change in grades due to switching to a private school with a history of assigning inflated grades, we would likely apply an adjustment.

      For less competitive programs, adjustments are unlikely to result in a change of an admission decision since we admit students to these programs with much larger ranges of admission averages. Adjustments play a more significant role in admission decisions for highly competitive programs.

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  18. Is it true that the March round focused more on applicants with a better AIF/Interview while the May round will focus more on marks?

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    1. We use the same approach for the final round of admissions as we do for the early round of admissions. The only difference is that we continue giving out admission offers until the programs are full.

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  19. Some eng programs state that they have an individual selection between low to mid 90s. Does this mean that having a very low 90 average but a really good aif, interview, and EC’s entails a good chance of acceptance?

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    1. If a program indicates individual selection in the low to mid 90’s, this means that at least a few applicants with a low to mid 90’s average will be offered admission. I would expect these applicants to have strong extracurricular activities, a well-written AIF and a good interview.

      I would not go so far as to indicate that the chances of acceptance are good. Such applicants should expect a relatively low chance of acceptance. For a better estimate of the probability of acceptance, I suggest reviewing the graphs on my blog. These graphs provide a much better estimate of the probability of acceptance for each program.

      Like

  20. Hello sir!

    You mentioned a lot that the Syde team hand picks based on the AIF for particular traits in the applicants, what is an example of something they look for? Is it programming skills? Leadership?

    Thank you very much!

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    1. Systems Design Engineering often looks for applicants who stand out from the crowd. There is no one factor that can be easily identified. From one year to the next, the factors that make applicants seem unique will change. Demonstrated leadership qualities can be good but there is a seemingly infinite list of interesting things that applicants can do to stand out.

      The best thing that applicants can do is to be honest about themselves when applying. Any applicant that clearly describes activities and interests on their AIF will usually get a positive assessment. Applicants that spend too much time telling us about the program they have chosen often miss out on telling us about themselves. Don’t be afraid to let down your guard and tell us about you.

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  21. Does Waterloo analyze each top six mark individually or do they just focus on the overall average. One of my marks is quite low for a pre-requisite (it is an 80 in calculus), and I am not too sure if I would be affected greatly because of it.

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  22. Due to Covid19, most Ontario schools have less data imputed for semester 2 midterm marks (Ex. my English teacher has only collected one assignment and this will be our midterm mark for semester 2) are midterm marks for semester 2 going to be looked at differently this year for admissions? I know many people who have unreliable midterm marks (inflated/deflated) due to the low number of data points collected by teachers this year.

    Thank you.

    Like

    1. One thing to keep in mind is that all marks are subjective. This is why marks only serve as the starting point for admission decisions. We look at many other factors to determine whether an applicant will receive an offer of admission. A slightly lower or higher mark in any one course is unlikely to have any significant effect upon our admission decisions.

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  23. Hello professor,

    I applied for mechatronics engineering with an average of 95.5 with last semesters marks and 95.83 if midterms are included. I was concerned about my english mark which is an 83. My other marks bring the average up, but will the admissions office care about an outlier or do they only look at the average?

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    1. Anything we see can be factored into our decisions. While we are most interested in your admission average, grades in particular courses can be a factor in our decisions. A grade of 83% in English is generally not a significant concern.

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    1. Due to the size of the round, admission offers will be released over multiple days. It is very difficult to predict the timing of the admission offers. I only see a portion of the entire process. After applicants are selected to receive an offer, it takes time for the offers to be coded and communicated to applicants.

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  24. Hello Professor,

    This is sort of urgent, I know admissions results will be out soon, but I have realized that another student from my school has falsified information on their AIF. I was wondering if you guys verify the activities that are mentioned on the AIFs. She has lied about things ranging from school clubs to a national competition. Is there someone specific that should be emailed about this?

    Like

    1. Anyone with information regarding the falsification of information on an application is strongly encouraged to e-mail the admissions team. We take such matters very seriously when they are brought to our attention. We do try to verify as much information as possible but it is always possible that we will miss something, even if it may seem obvious.

      Time is of the essence. The final round of admissions started on Saturday. We have almost finished the selection of Non-Ontario Secondary School applicants and we will receive our Ontario Secondary School grades tomorrow if all goes well so that we may begin the selection of our OSS applicants.

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  25. Good Evening Professor,

    This is a bit urgent. I am a 105 applicant (PR). In my transcripts it says course taken was Math but it was actually calculus, I have spoke to my school several time about it. Other universities have asked me for course description but U of Waterloo did not. I scored around 98.7 avg. and 99 Calculus. I have emailed the admissions officer and she said that she is going to leave a note on my file. Will this cause any problems with my file. Thank you so much. Stay Safe!

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  26. Hello Professor,

    You mentioned that the selection of non-OSS students is almost finished, does this include transfer applicants from Ontario universities?

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    1. Yes, transfer applicants from Ontario universities are part of the Non-OSS database since transfer applicants have post-secondary experience. I know we gave offers to a few transfer applicants. In general, the transfer applicants either had very good grades or they had a very compelling reason for changing programs and moving to the Waterloo Region.

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  27. Hello Professor!
    You stated that rejections will be given at the end of may. What about waitlist students? Will those who are waitlisted be informed of this in the upcoming days?

    Like

    1. If by Monday, May 18th, you haven’t received an offer on Quest, e-mail enginfo@uwaterloo.ca to request to be put on our waiting list for a particular program. If you are interested in more than one program, you may specify all of them.

      The same is also true if you have received an offer to a program other than the one you want. If this is the case, e-mail enginfo@uwaterloo.ca to request to be put on our waiting list for a particular program. If you are interested in more than one program, you may specify all of them.

      I suspect many of our top programs will be full, despite the ongoing pandemic. However, we will keep you on our waitlist throughout the summer in case one of your chosen programs becomes available.

      Liked by 1 person

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