Preparing for University

With the start of university approximately 1 month away, incoming students are likely starting to get very anxious about their future.  Here are a few tips on how to prepare for the Fall term if you are planning on starting university.

  1. Make sure you are prepared to participate in online course activities.
  2. If you are planning a move, think about the things you will need to take with you.
  3. Develop healthy living habits prior to the start of university.
  4. Connect with your classmates and instructors as early as possible.
  5. Reach out for help when you need it.

Let’s look at each of these points in detail…

Make sure you are prepared to participate in online course activities.

With classes being held remotely in the Fall and most likely the Winter, you will want to make sure that you have created an environment suitable for studying effectively.  You may not have the luxury of buying a brand new computer with dual 27″ monitors, a desk, an office chair, and all of the peripherals you would love to own so you need to prioritize.  My suggestion is to focus on acquiring things that will make it easier for you to study for reasonably long periods of time.

A functional desk is essential.  Students living in residence will have access to a suitable desk and a chair.  Some students may find it useful to upgrade their chair to a proper office chair for long hours in front of a computer.  In my home office, my chair is probably my weakest link.  A good office chair is something you will definitely appreciate when working long hours.  Keep in mind that there are ways to purchase chairs affordably.  There are stores that sell used office furniture where you can get a very good deal.  With businesses closing, you may find that there is a reasonable supply of lightly used office furniture.  Regardless of whether you are purchasing a new or used chair, make sure you try it out before buying it.  Stores like Staples and IKEA have chairs that you can test out.

On the computer front, make sure you have the peripherals you will need to be successful:

  1. Webcam
  2. Headphones
  3. A full-size keyboard
  4. A nice monitor (or two)

You will note that I did not specify a computer.  Almost any computer will work with the online teaching tools used by the university.  Unless your existing computer is very old or you do not have a computer at all, upgrading to a new computer may not be necessary.  Most computers (even old ones) are capable of running office software and browsing the internet.

If you need to acquire any peripherals, now is the time to do so.  Things like webcams can be hard to find.  Demand for technology has outpaced supply over the past 4 months.  Also, back-to-school sales have already started.

If you are planning a move, think about the things you will need to take with you.

Remember your business attire.  You will never forget to pack your favorite t-shirt but it is easy to forget that you may have a job interview in your first month of co-op studies.  Even if you are not in a co-op program, you should always have one outfit suitable for a job interview or a special event.  Working from home hasn’t eliminated the need for business attire completely.  If you are interviewing for a job, you should still show respect to an employer by dressing appropriately.

Another good thing to remember would be some memories of home.  If you have a photograph, a poster, or something that just sits on your desk and makes you happy, remember to bring it with you.  It is important that you make your “new home” feel like home.

If you need anything to help you sleep better, bring it with you.  A pillow or a blanket might turn a residence room into a much more welcoming environment.  But also remember that you will need something to wake you up in the morning.  When I was a student, a dedicated alarm clock with a battery backup was a great investment.  It also doubled as a radio which was nice.

Finally, keep in mind that space is likely limited.  You cannot move an entire house into residence.  Choose things wisely.  A bean bag chair might not fit comfortably in your new place.  Only bring things that you really need.  After a few terms of packing and unpacking, you will get very good at recognizing what you need to pack.

To figure out what you really need, you can do the following over the next week.  When you use something over the next week, make a note of it.  At the end of this week, things not on the list are probably things that you can manage without (at least for 4 months at a time).

Develop healthy living habits prior to the start of university.

Eating right, exercising, and developing healthy sleeping habits will boost your productivity.  All of these are tough things to do well but every effort you make will help. Most importantly, try to develop a good schedule now while you are not in university.  Once you develop a schedule, it will be easier to stick to it when you start your studies.  I would suggest going to sleep no later than 11 pm in the days leading up to you starting your studies.  Also, try to wake up by 7 am the next day.  Remember that classes start as early as 8:30 am.  In a normal term, you need to be at class by that time which means waking up, cleaning up, getting dressed, having breakfast, and going to class.

I have been guilty of having some very bad sleeping habits lately.  The long hours of teaching remotely have been taking a toll on my sleep.  Again, when you fall out of good habits (and this will happen), do everything you can to get back on schedule.

Connect with your classmates and instructors as early as possible.

There are ways that you can connect to your classmates already.  The Waterloo Ready program is just one of many ways to connect.  There are Discord servers and other online forums for students to interact with their classmates.  While many of these channels are unofficial, they are great ways to get to know other students in your program.  E-mail also works.  Feel free to reach out to your instructors.  Many of them will gladly e-mail you back.

Reach out for help when you need it.

Isolation is not healthy for anyone.  We have already seen anecdotal evidence that excellent students are struggling with remote learning.  While some students strive in a remote learning environments, students who have traditionally done very well in their studies are struggling the most.  Our university has been doing everything it can reasonably do to help students with stress, anxiety, and depression.  We realize that students are worried not only about their studies but also about many important societal issues and health concerns.  While we have resources to help students, many of the resources require students to take the first step.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Knowing your limitations is a sign of strength, not weakness!

A final note…

There is still time to defer your university studies by a year (or two) if you are not ready to start classes in the Fall.  The deadline for submitting an Admission Deferral Request Form was extended until August 14th this year.  Our university extended the deadline from August 1st in recognition of the fact that many students are likely undecided on how to proceed this year.

Deferring is not a decision that you should make lightly. 

This year, more than ever, there is a strong case to be made for deferring the start of your studies.  Students starting this year will be studying remotely in the Fall.  You are making a huge investment in your future.  You need to maximize the return on your investment.  If you do not think that remote learning is a good fit for you, deferring may be a very good option.  However, if you typically spend a fair amount of time in front of a computer watching videos, remote learning may be ideal for you.  Some students are thriving in remote learning.  Others are struggling.  It is difficult to predict how any individual will react to remote learning.

Another reason to defer may be that you cannot come to the university and you are studying in a different time zone.  We have approximately 300 international students who have actively enrolled in first year studies for engineering programs in Fall 2020.  While travel restrictions are always subject to change, the current restrictions do not appear to allow new students on a study permit to travel to Canada for remote learning.  There are a few exceptions but travel may be impossible for new students.  While it is possible to study remotely in the Fall, it may be difficult to justify paying over $30,000 in tuition and incidental fees for one term of remote studies.  For those students studying remotely in different time zones, know that the University of Waterloo has been developing ways to support you effectively in your remote studies.

Of course, recent data suggests that students who graduate from our engineering programs often get very lucrative employment offers after graduation so studying this Fall may still be a very good investment in your future.  A recent survey of Management Engineering graduates suggests that the starting salaries of the graduating class are very comparable to the salaries of the faculty members teaching them.  About a third of our recent graduates in Management Engineering report making more than $160,000 CAD.

On the subject of investment, keep in mind that university tuition typically increases every year.  This is one of the disadvantages of deferring.  From a cost perspective, it is always best to start your studies as early as possible and to finish as early as possible.  For international students, first year tuition sometimes increases by as much as 15% per year so this can be an important consideration.  For domestic students, first year tuition increases are typically around 5% so it plays a much less significant factor in decisions.

As a final comment, I should point out that even if you start this Fall and you find that you are overwhelmed, the last day for a full tuition refund is September 28th.  If you start classes and decide that you are not ready after a few weeks, you always have the option of getting your tuition refunded.  While it is clearly better to defer now than to pay and then ask for a refund, this does provide students with a bit of time to better assess their situations.

I will finish by thanking everyone for the positive feedback on the photos from my garden.  Here are a few more photographs from my garden to brighten your day:



39 thoughts on “Preparing for University”

  1. Thanks for keeping us updated during the summer months.
    I do have some questions, though.
    You mentioned that the last day for a full tuition refund is September 28. What are the conditions of that? Is it considered dropping out? Could I request a deferral at that point, or would I need to reapply for the next year?
    Thank you!


    1. That’s a great question.

      You must withdraw from your academic term to receive the 100% tuition refund. Withdrawing from an academic term is not equivalent to dropping out. A student that withdraws from an academic term is simply inactive.

      To return to active studies, a student that has withdrawn from an academic term must fill out a re-admission form. The purpose of the form is to notify the Faculty of Engineering that you intend to return to active studies. Re-admission is typically a formality. In rare circumstances, re-admission can be denied but there would have to be a very good reason for doing so. For example, if a student withdrew from academic terms multiple times or was inactive for too long, time limits could come into play.

      A student fresh out of high school that withdraws early in their first academic term would be granted re-admission for the next Fall term.


  2. I fully agree: a good chair, headphones (reduces feedback in online meetings), and decent monitors to reduce eyestrain. Frequent breaks to change your focal plane are good too, although I often forget to do that.


  3. Would office chairs/desks be covered under the “academic readiness” bursary? Would two monitors be covered under that as well or would it be limited to a single monitor?


    1. There is a reasonably good description of the Academic Residence Bursary on the following website:

      A monitor is clearly indicated as being eligible. An office chair is not mentioned in the examples but I think an applicant could make a clear case for purchasing one. I do not believe the university will be too strict on the expenses given reasonable justification for them.

      It is important to remember that there is no guarantee of funding, even if an expense is deemed eligible. I have no doubt that this bursary was created with good intentions. It is unfortunate that the university didn’t simply award $500 to any OSAP eligible student. Doing so would have reduced the amount of work required by both students and administrators while also ensuring that funds get to those who need them. The hurdles of submitting a written statement of expenses and submitting the original receipts were likely designed to ensure that only students with clear need apply for the bursary.


  4. Hi Professor, I am going to be in grade 12 starting September. I was wondering if I chose to take online school because of covid-19 instead of the hybrid version, would that affect my application grades? Thanks a lot.


    1. It is impossible to predict how the choice of course delivery will affect the grades of our applicants.

      When we assess applicants, we simply do not have access to enough data to make any informed assessment of whether a particular course offering is easy or hard. For that matter, we may not even know how a course was actually delivered. If an applicant registers for an in-person course and it transitions quickly into an online course, it will likely still show as an in-person course on a transcript.

      We only perform adjustments in cases where we know that there is a statistically-significant correlation between student performance in our engineering programs and their educational experiences in secondary school.


  5. I thank you for all the work that you put into this blog! It is a very great resource for a lot of highschool and incoming students, and you have our absolute gratitude.

    I am just curious as to how the admissions department will approach this upcoming cycle. These are unprecedented times for everyone. With the TDSB allow students to choose in class or full remote, it seems there will be an advantage in marks for students opting online.

    Will students taking all classes in person be scored more leniently versus those who may be doing all evaluations and exams online?

    I understand there is also the issue of safety, so there may not be a fair solution for all in terms of scoring


    1. The Waterloo Engineering Admissions Team recognizes that the global pandemic has had a profound impact upon the educational opportunities available to high school students as they prepare to apply to university. In many regions, access to courses, educational activities, testing, and extra-curricular activities have been limited. We will consider all applicants in the context of the current situation and endeavour to assess each applicant fairly.


  6. Hello Professor Bishop,
    Have there been any engineering offers for individuals enrolled on the wait-list?


    1. This is a great question. The answer is yes. We gave a waitlist offer last week to a student for an engineering program that missed its target.

      We had expected a lower confirmation rate and a higher deferral rate. I looked at our active student list today and we are still above target for most engineering programs. Additional waitlist offers will not be possible, unfortunately.

      Student numbers are very difficult to predict this year. Our first year engineering student intake for domestic students is projected to be between 110% and 111% of target. Our first year engineering student intake for visa students is projected to be between 72% and 103% of target.


  7. Do Computer and Electrical applicants apply for the same seats? Or are the applications done separately?


    1. Applicants must select a program when applying through OUAC. We do have target numbers for each program but these target numbers are designed to ensure that the applicants to one program are qualified for the other. COMPE students may easily change to ELE and ELE students may easily change to COMPE in the first year of their programs.

      There is no advantage to applying to one program over the other. You need the same qualifications for both programs.


      1. Hey Professor,

        Considering the circumstances this year and how most eng programs, presumably including CE, are over their target enrolment, would the switch between EE/CE still be made available to students. Will there be no mark requirements, as long as you pass? As an incoming first year student to EE, I worry that I may end up finding that CE is a better fit for me, but not having the possibility to make the switch.

        Thank you.


      2. Computer Engineering is not above target this year. Electrical Engineering is slightly above target but this may change by November 1st.

        Transfers between Computer Engineering and Electrical Engineering are quite common during the first year of studies. We have a common first year for all students in Computer Engineering and Electrical Engineering so transfers between these programs can be easily accommodated. There are no grade requirements for this particular transfer.


  8. Hey Professor Bishop! Love your blog, it really is a game-changer for those who are anxious about admissions.

    I understand that there are a lot of people who have decided to defer their offers until fall 2021 amidst the current global situation. As I and many others will be applying next year, I am concerned if this will affect my chances of getting into the esteemed Waterloo Engineering program. If you are comfortable with disclosing, will the number of deferrals you have received increase competition drastically for this upcoming admission cycle?



    1. We actually expected more requests for deferrals than we received this year. The total number of requests for deferrals in the Faculty of Engineering was 48 according to the report I received on August 17th. This report was produced after the deadline for requesting deferrals so we do not expect the number to change. It is my understanding that the number of requests for deferrals was very similar to previous years.

      The deferrals are distributed proportionally across all of our engineering programs. I do not expect the deferrals to have any significant impact upon the upcoming admission cycle. To put the number of deferrals into perspective, the deferrals represent somewhere between 1% and 2% of all admission offers processed in a given admission cycle.


  9. Hey Professor Bishop!
    Is Accounting 12 considered to be an academic course and can it be used to calculate admission averages?


    1. The answer depends upon the exact course taken. In the Ontario curriculum, BAT4M (Financial Accounting Principles) could be used as your 6th course but BAN4E (Accounting for a Small Business) could not be used. In general, any 4M or 4U course is sufficient for your 6th course.

      If I assume that Accounting 12 refers to the Accounting 12 course from the British Columbia high school system, it would not be suitable as your 6th course as it is part of the Applied Design, Skills and Technology (ADST) curriculum. The only courses from the ADST curriculum that are accepted are Economics 12 and Financial Management 12. I actually tried to change this rule two years ago but I was informed that it is a standard rule applied to all University of Waterloo admission decisions.

      There are quite a few ADST courses that should probably count, in my opinion. There is a concern that students will use “easier” courses to boost their admission averages. I do not view technical courses as “easier” and I think that the amount of boosting that a high school applicant could do to their average is minimal even if an applicant takes the easiest course a school offers.


  10. Hi, professor
    I would like to ask how much would adjustment factor change over the period of 2 or 3 years?
    I am applying to SE, and according to my research, the adjustment factor plays a huge factor in admission to SE.
    My school has an adjustment factor of about 12 or 13 from 2016 – 2018. A pattern emerges from the adjustment factor form the internet that some schools have a low adjustment factor for one year but then suddenly switch back to the normal Ontario adjustment factor. I am worried that my school may be kicked out of the list as we don’t have any students going to Waterloo in 2019.
    From my knowledge, we don’t have anybody going to SE before as the program requires a high level of intelligence. I am worried that this adjustment factor will be a downside to me. Our school really marked hard on students. The highest English 4U score last semester is like 91.


    1. The adjustment factor is an attempt to improve the fairness of our admission assessments. An adjustment factor is only applied when there is statistically significant data that shows recent students from a particular high school (or jurisdiction) do substantially better or worse than the typical applicant to Waterloo Engineering. Adjustment factors are only applied to a very small number of Ontario applicants. As you indicate, an adjustment factor is more likely to matter for admission to engineering programs such as Software Engineering. The Software Engineering program has a high number of qualified applicants to available spaces. A low adjustment factor does not guarantee admission to any of our engineering programs nor does a high adjustment factor prevent admission to any of our engineering programs.

      Adjustment factors change every year based on recent student performance. Every year, a few schools are added to the list and a few other schools are removed from the list. Individual students have no control over the adjustment factors. This is one of the reasons why we do not publish the list of adjustment factors. Worrying about your school’s adjustment factor is unproductive. The adjustment factor system that we use is designed to help ensure success in our engineering programs. If you transferred to a high school with a different adjustment factor, your grades would likely reflect the new adjustment factor.

      A school that marks hard is usually a very good thing. Not only does it motivate you to study more but it also teaches you that you can’t always be perfect. A grade of 91 in English 4U is a very good grade. It is also a grade typical of applicants to our Software Engineering program. I look forward to reading your application this admission cycle.


  11. Hi Professor Bishop,
    I was wondering how likely getting deferred to your backup engineering program would be. If you got rejected from your first choice, would you be considered for your backup on the same level as people who had selected it as their first choice? Or would you have to be one of the best applicants to even be considered, as it was only your backup? Is there a specific number of spots allocated to backups for each program, or is getting your backup unlikely?
    Thank you!


    1. The probability of getting an offer to your alternate engineering program choice depends upon a number of factors.

      The first thing to keep in mind is that we strive to give applicants an offer to their first engineering program choice. We only give out one engineering admission offer to an applicant. If you get accepted into your first engineering program choice, you will not be given an offer to your alternate program choice.

      The second thing to keep in mind is that if you are not given an offer to your first engineering program choice, we will be more likely to give you an offer to your alternate engineering program choice if it is one that does not have enough qualified applicants. There is a big difference between the number of applicants to a program and the number of qualified applicants. Some programs have ten applicants per available space but if you look at the number of qualified applicants per available space, the number is much lower (perhaps 5 or lower). To put things into perspective, at least 6 engineering programs last year did not have enough qualified applicants to meet their targets. It always amazes me that we have more than a few applicants who clearly do not meet our minimum requirements for admission. They might be missing required courses or they might have course grades below our requirements. In some cases, the applicants simply fail to complete the AIF which is required for admission consideration in the Faculty of Engineering.

      The third thing to keep in mind is that the best applicants who are not receiving offers to their first engineering program choice are much more likely to receive an alternate offer. The two programs that deflected the most applicants into their alternate engineering program choice were Software Engineering and Biomedical Engineering as you might logically expect. Both of these programs have high quality applicant pools.

      The final thing to keep in mind is that we do read the applications carefully. If we see a compelling reason for extending an admission offer to an alternate engineering program choice, we will do so. For example, we might be slightly more inclined to give an alternate admission offer to a local applicant. There are other considerations as well. Basically, if we see a desire by the student to study at the University of Waterloo and an interest in the alternate engineering program choice, we are more likely to give an alternate admission offer.

      You question about the number of spots allocated to students who applied to other programs is a good one. We do not have a fixed number or percentage that we will not exceed but certainly it is our goal to fill up programs with applicants who chose the programs. In programs that do not have enough qualified applicants, we will typically admit all qualified applicants first and then fill the programs with applicants who listed the program as an alternate choice. It is very much an iterative process. We often do many passes through our applicant files looking for the best applicants in the pools. I often do searches of the applicant pool looking for a specific program listed as an alternate program choice.

      This being said, we do flag some highly qualified applicants for alternate admission offers for some of our competitive programs as well. For example, we will select some of the Software Engineering applicants who do not receive an offer for their first choice program for programs such as Mechatronics Engineering and Computer Engineering. When we do so, the applicants must be clearly at the top of the applicant pool for the alternate program of interest.

      One final thing to keep in mind is that some alternate program choices do not make any sense. For example, there is no value in listing Software Engineering or Biomedical Engineering as an alternate program choice. Applicants are never going to be refused by a less competitive program and then admitted to a more competitive program. For example, if you were applying to Computer Engineering as your first choice program, there is no value in listing Software Engineering as an alternate program choice. Programs at the same level of competitiveness might work but never programs that are much more competitive.


  12. Hi Professor Bishop,

    I am currently enrolled in UofT for Engineering and am wishing to transfer here to Waterloo Engineering. Previously, I have received admission to Geological Engineering but I have declined it carelessly because I decided that UofT is closer. However, as of now I believe that proximity won’t be an issue to me anymore. I really wish to enroll in the Civil Engineering program here. Is this even possible? It would be best to do this as early as possible. This is because I hear that courses in Waterloo are specialized already in first year which I think is so awesome! Unfortunately, I know I might have to redo first year due to insufficient transfer credits but I believe I am ready for this process. Is transferring possible after one semester? I know Waterloo still admits very few transfer applicants but I guess It’s worth the try! I tried to email the admissions office but I did not receive a reply for over 10 days but that’s ok!


    1. We only admit students to our engineering undergraduate programs in the Fall term. If you are currently enrolled at the University of Toronto, you would need to apply through OUAC for admission to Civil Engineering for Fall 2021.

      It is true that you would likely need to redo first year. Sometimes, we can make a very early admission decision and save a transfer applicant from taking a 2nd term at another university but it really depends upon a number of factors. Each situation is a bit different. It is really hard for students to start in the 2nd term since they miss out on information about our co-op program and they miss out on some of the design activities integrated early in our programs to ensure success in our co-op programs.

      With respect to e-mailing the admissions office, we often do triage on our e-mail. Since your transfer inquiry is not something urgent, the e-mail was likely flagged for a later response. Most recently, our office has been focusing on internal transfer requests and deferral requests. However, we do try to respond as soon as we can. The volume of e-mail has increased quite a bit since the start of the pandemic, as you can probably imagine. We are also ramping up for our virtual fair being held on October 3rd.


  13. Hi again,

    Thank you for your response! How likely is it for applicants to transfer to 1B for Civil Engineering? I know that there will be important sessions that will be missed but is this possible?


    1. It would be possible for a University of Waterloo engineering student wishing to transfer into 1B (second term) Civil Engineering. It would be unlikely for a University of Waterloo student from a non-engineering program to be able to transfer into 1B (second term) Civil Engineering.

      For students not student at the University of Waterloo, a transfer into 1B (second term) Civil Engineering would be highly unlikely. We have courses offered in 1A (first term) that students need to take to be successful in our co-op program. These courses are only offered in the Fall when the 1A (first term) is offered. The 1B (second term) is only offered in the Winter and the Spring.

      In general, transfer applicants from outside the University of Waterloo should assume that they will be transferring into 1A for all engineering programs. Last year, all of our transfer applicants received offers to start in 1A only.


  14. You mentioned that all of the students transferred to 1A? How many were accepted out of all transfer applicants? And, have students transferred from UofT engineering? I’m asking because some courses look similar to the courses offered at Waterloo but not all of them are and i’m not 100% sure since its based on Waterloo’s guidelines. I’m also currently an engineering student at UofT.


    1. I have not closely tracked the number of transfer applicants or the probability of transfer applicants receiving an offer of admission. Transfer applicants represent such a small proportion of our applicant pool that the statistics would likely not be meaningful.

      I know we extended at least one admission offer to an applicant wishing to transfer from an engineering program at the University of Toronto. As I recall, the applicant was given an admission offer for the 1A (first) term.

      Our co-op programs are cohort-based programs. There are some significant advantages of the cohort system but one of the disadvantages is that it makes it difficult to take courses out-of-sequence. There are a few first term courses that are not offered elsewhere that you can only study if you enroll in the 1A (first) term. Otherwise, the class scheduling will not work. These courses help prepare you for finding your first co-op placement. This means that we are practically limited to awarding admission offers for the 1A (first) term. There are, of course, exceptions made in certain circumstances but they are very rare.

      As an aside, first year engineering students often find themselves thinking that they should have gone to another university. This would be true of our students as well. The grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence. We certainly do not try to encourage students to switch from one accredited engineering program to another. There are cases where transfers make sense (for example, relocating to Waterloo to be closer to friends or family) and we do try to facilitate these types of transfers. Another case where a transfer may make sense is one based on the desire to live closer to home to save money. For transfer students, the motivation for the transfer can play a role in our admission decisions.


  15. How much do you think the residence fees add up to roughly after 5 years of enrollment. Just a really rough estimate is good enough. I just need to see if this will be a profitable choice.


    1. The best way to answer this question is to point you to the current residence fees. The Waterloo Residences website will help you calculate your own estimate of the cost. The cost depends significantly upon the style of residence chosen, the academic term, and the food plan (if any) selected.


  16. How could I apply to Waterloo Civil Engineering for Fall 2021? As a transfer applicant (UofT Engineering First Year), would I need to apply through the 105 application or the 101 application? When do you think is the best possible time to apply?


    1. I believe you would use the 105 application since you are attending a post-secondary institution. The 105 application is currently online. There is no rush to apply. I would recommend filling in the application during either Reading Week or the holiday break in December. Applications are due on February 1st. As long as you apply by the official deadline, your application will be fully considered.


  17. Hi Professor, Do you know if this year’s admission process is going to be hard due to the fact there was an over admit of applicants last year?


    1. We did not over admit applicants last year. While we gave out more offers than in previous years, the total number of applicants that accepted our offers was close to our targets for our programs. Also, we did not see a large spike in deflections from Fall 2020 to Fall 2021.

      Given that we have not been able to recruit students using our typical approaches, there is actually a reasonable chance that this year will be slightly less competitive than the past 3 years.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I don’t understand. If I want to transfer now between Universities to get here I need a 75 minimum according to this website: But that’s typically hard to achieve because in first year students typically get a 60 average (I am a first year student from UofT). If I want to transfer to Waterloo Engineering for maybe first year again will I have a strong chance with a 60-65 average. And what if courses are more complex in other universities than taking it here. I’m wanting to persue Geo Eng or Civ Eng .(Maybe Env. Eng) here not like software or biomedical. I know about Waterloo that they specialize earlier and stuff and coop schedules. I most likely prefer starting second year there.


    1. We do expect university students wishing to transfer into engineering programs at the University of Waterloo to have a minimum university average of 75%. When we compare admitted applicants from universities to admitted applicants from high schools, we find that applicants from universities do approximately 10% better in their first year courses. If we require high school applicants to have an average of 85% for admission, we should therefore require university applicants to have an average of 75% for admission.

      I would like to address the comment that a 60% average is typical for a first year student. This statement is false for first year engineering students at the University of Waterloo. I have computed first year averages for our engineering students and the averages are higher. I cannot comment on first year averages at other universities.

      As you indicate, there are many other factors to a transfer assessment. Some of the factors considered include the university currently being attended, the program currently being studied, the motivation for the transfer, and of course, extracurricular activities including both work and volunteer experience. It also matters which program you have selected for your future studies. Some programs have more competitive applicant pools.

      Most transfer students would prefer to start in 2nd year. This simply is not an option for Waterloo Engineering programs. We have required first year courses that prepare students for co-op placements. These courses are only offered in the Fall term. It is practically impossible to take these courses out of sequence as these courses will not fit into a 2nd year student timetable. We prefer to be upfront with students about the potential issues they will face when transferring into our programs. We do not want to create unrealistic expectations for our students.

      We are not in the business of trying to actively recruit transfer students. Based on results from student satisfaction surveys, I think it is fair to say that many first year university students would be tempted to transfer out of their current university program at the end of their first year of studies. This would also be true for first year Waterloo Engineering students. The public perception of university is quite different from reality. Movies and TV shows about university life tend to exaggerate and romanticize the university experience so students enter university with unrealistic expectations. It is not in the best interest of students or universities for large numbers of students to transfer from one institution to the next at the end of their first year of studies.

      We try to facilitate transfers when there is a clear motivation for a transfer. There are cases where it makes sense for a student to relocate to the Waterloo Region. When the goal is relocation and the motivation is one that seems genuine, we do our best to facilitate a transfer. In some cases, we may waive certain requirements to facilitate a transfer on compassionate grounds. There are limits to what we can reasonably do. We are also slightly more likely to facilitate transfers when a student is changing the field of study as a result of careful consideration of the proposed field of study.


  19. What if I previously got into waterloo but rejected the offer. I can show proof for this if I were to write my AIF. This shows I had the high school average capable for the admission. So my question is, wouldn’t this kind of waive off the minimum 75 average needed.

    Another thing to mention is that It says that I need relevant work experience (4-8 months i believe is required). But if I were to start having a job now, 4-8 months would surpass the due date of the AIF (which is February I believe). So how would I follow this requirement? It’s just that I have a strong family history for this University and also Coop is super beneficial here as it can help pay off my tuition. Also, I’m interested in acquiring relevant experience from coop.

    On that note, if I were to forget about undergrad and think about grad school which I think would be a more suitable option (based on statistics, students tend to transfer Universities after graduating from undergrad to enter grad school), would this be beneficial in terms of job placement after on? (Since Waterloo has a high rate of job placement after undergrad). Like, what would be your general insight on this? I’m kind of being strategic here. Would this still look good on my resume? By the way, is there relevant paid experience in grad school?



    1. An offer of admission in a previous admission cycle does not guarantee an offer of admission in a subsequent admission cycle. We track applicants from one cycle to the next so we would know that you had previously applied and that you had previously declined our offer of admission. This information does not affect the assessment of your application. We use the information to tailor our communications with you.

      Work experience is not required for admission to first-year engineering programs, but it is obviously beneficial if you have relevant work experience. On the Admission Information Form (AIF), you should list any work or volunteer experience in progress. We can certainly appreciate your desire to transfer to the University of Waterloo.

      Our undergraduate students tend to be highly successful in graduate programs. I have known students who have been admitted for graduate studies at Stanford, MIT, Harvard, and UC Berkeley. The co-op program provides undergraduate students with skills that make them strong applicants for graduate research programs. Also, our undergraduate programs are known for being high quality programs.

      It is difficult to say whether graduate studies is a better option than transferring undergraduate programs. For our internal engineering applicants, we often recommend participating in program options when transferring is not possible. Graduate studies after graduation from an undergraduate program is another possibility that may be appropriate for some students. It really depends upon your career aspirations.

      The majority of our graduate programs do not allow for paid internships or co-op placements. There are a few exceptions but I am not aware of any in the Civil Engineering fields of study. It is important to remember that a Masters degree can take as little anywhere from 1 year to 2 years to complete so there is not much time for a meaningful work placement.


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