Final Round Admission Offers

Now that all final round admission offers for Waterloo Engineering have been sent out, I can resume my regular blog posts. During our final admission round, it is very difficult to respond to comments and inquiries. Often, I have access to information that is not yet public so the safest option is to wait until all decisions have been communicated.

Our final round of admission was not without a few challenges…

Challenge #1: Computer Crash

First, my personal computer decided to crash just prior to the start of the final round of admissions. I was not surprised. I have been using my computer more than most computers get used in a lifetime. Between producing videos for my courses and processing large databases for admissions, my hard disk was lucky to last as long as it did. Thankfully, I was able to secure a slightly slower computer at BestBuy on short notice to complete the final round of admission and I was able to restore most of my files from backups. I am also trying to pinpoint a problem with the new computer. It randomly halts about once every three days. So far, I have not been able to uncover the issue from the logs.

Challenge #2: Vaccination Side-Effects

I also found myself making difficult final round decisions while recovering from my first vaccination of Astra Zeneca. I wanted to start the vaccination process as soon as I was eligible. I am scheduled to teach on campus in Fall 2021. My hope is to be fully vaccinated prior to my return to teaching on campus. While most people have relatively minor reactions to being vaccinated, my wife and I both had noticeable reactions to receiving the vaccine. I developed a cough, a low grade fever, and a very sore arm. The cough was not one of the side-effects mentioned in our documentation but apparently it is relatively common. I have now almost fully recovered from my first vaccination. My wife is also recovering well. In the grand scheme of things, the side-effects were minor. I strongly urge all eligible individuals to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Challenge #3: Phone Migration

My campus phone extension was migrated from a physical phone to a Skype for Business extension during the final admission round. I do apologize to those trying to reach me at my old extension. I hope to cleanup the message box soon. I only recently was able to setup the new extension so there was a brief window were I was unable to be reached by phone. Our entire admissions team was moved to Skype for Business so you may also have experienced some issues contacting us. Please be patient. We are doing our best to migrate our systems and respond to inquiries.

Frequently Asked Questions

I would like to answer some of the most frequently asked questions in my Inbox regarding our final round of admissions. First, let me start by congratulating all applicants who received an offer of admission to an engineering program. For many programs, competition was stiff. Some clearly outstanding applicants were unfortunately not given offers of admission. Applicants who did not receive offers of admission are no doubt very disappointed. To put things in perspective, you were competing against the top high school students in the world. The fact that you weren’t successful this time doesn’t mean that you won’t be successful in the future. All leaders encounter challenges. The characteristic of a great leader is someone who does not give up easily.


A few students immediately after receiving their offer of admission inquired about transferring programs. At this time, we are not considering student transfer requests. We do not anticipate any spaces becoming available in our engineering programs. Our models indicate that our engineering programs are full. My advice to admitted students is that you should only accept an offer of admission to an engineering program if you are passionate about the program offered. Admitted students should not accept an offer of admission to an engineering program with the goal of transferring to another program. We do not anticipate a large number of students dropping out of our programs. It is unlikely that spaces will become available in any of our engineering programs.


Last year, we offered waitlists to applicants who were not admitted. Last year, we felt there was some chance that spaces would become available. This year, we do not feel it would be appropriate to offer waitlists. We do not expect spaces to become available. Offering waitlists would only give false hope to students who were not admitted. I do not expect things to change between now and September 1st. In fact, we should be comfortably above our engineering program targets on September 1st.

Deflections to Alternate Engineering Programs

A few applicants have asked if they were considered for the alternate engineering program indicated on the Admission Information Form (AIF). Where we felt deflections were appropriate, we considered applicants for their alternate engineering program. We only consider applicants for their first alternate engineering program. The university form allows applicants to specify more than one alternate program but we make it clear that we only consider applicants for their top alternate program. Some deflection pathways are less successful than others. While we could fill entire programs with deflects from our largest programs, this would clearly not be appropriate.

Deflections to the Faculty of Science

Some applicants to Mechatronics Engineering and Electrical Engineering may have received deflection offers to a program in the Faculty of Science that they did not indicate on their Admission Information Form. The Engineering Admissions Team was not aware of this until very late into the final admission round. The change also added to the delays in concluding our admission round. It was not our intention to deflect students on this pathway. Please note that if you have received one of these admission offers, you should assume that a transfer into engineering will not be possible in the future.

Reapplying in a Future Year

Sometimes, applicants are successful when they reapply for an engineering program after taking a gap year. It really depends upon a number of factors. An applicant with good high school grades will often do well, particularly if the applicant puts effort into their Admission Information Form (AIF) and the online interview in their second attempt. How you use your gap year can also be a factor in our decisions. Every year, a handful of applicants reapply to Waterloo Engineering and receive an offer of admission. Of course, if your grades do not meet our entrance requirements or you fail to complete the AIF, the same result will occur the second time you apply. For most applicants, it is better to pursue a current offer than to put all your hopes on a future offer. I always like to point out that all Ontario engineering programs are accredited by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB) so all Ontario engineering programs offer a great education with great career prospects.

Overall Comments

If our models are correct, we should be very close to our targets with an incoming class size of approximately 1,800 students on November 1st which serves as our official count date. I will leave you with an image of our Bleeding Hearts which have just started to flower this year. It is time to tend to my garden…

18 thoughts on “Final Round Admission Offers”

  1. Hello Professor!

    Thank you for your dedication and hard work! I am wondering if it is still possible this year to defer an offer until the next Fall?


    1. There will be a window of opportunity for admitted engineering students to request a deferral of their start date. The window will open on July 1, 2021 and it will close sometime in early August. The form for requesting a deferral can be found on the following website.

      The most common deferral is a one year deferral of the start date. In cases where international students must complete required military service, students may request deferrals of two years. The Faculty of Engineering does not impose an upper bound on the number of students that may be granted deferrals. If you are a recent graduate from a high school and you request a deferral, the request will be approved. Every year, about 50 admitted engineering students request deferrals for various reasons. I would say that the most common reason for requesting a deferral is to delay the start of a university program for financial reasons.

      When deferring your studies, the only requirement we impose is that you may not study at another post-secondary institution during your deferral period. Should you use your deferral period to study at another university, your offer may be revoked.

      The only case where a deferral would not be granted would be one where deferrals have been previously granted and pre-requisite high school courses are no longer current. For example, if an admitted student attempted to defer start dates repeatedly over a period of several years, we might elect to not grant a deferral. This is an extremely rare situation.


  2. Hello – is the faculty of engineering planning on offering a prep program this summer to incoming students? I know that McMaster has their Ember program but I haven’t been able to find information on anything similar at Waterloo for this year. Thanks!


  3. Dr. Bishop,

    Just wondering about hypotheticals. If enough applicants were to either defer or not accept their offers of admission, would the university consider sending out some more offers of admission? Also, is there any way applicants can find out how they ranked during the admissions process? I am specifically curious as to how I did on the video interview and AIF. Thanks.


    1. We have one window during which we can make admission decisions. Once the deadline for accepting admission offers passes, there is really no opportunity to admit more applicants. Even if we wanted to admit additional applicants, most applicants have already made decisions to study elsewhere. While there is nothing that prevents us from giving out admission offers after the deadline, the success rate is not worth the effort. This is why some programs exceed their admission targets while others miss their admission targets. We must make educated guesses about how many applicants will accept our admission offers.

      Also, there is another interesting challenge that we face when admitting applicants. We must also predict how many students will not complete their first term of studies. This includes students who defer their studies, students who dropout due to financial difficulties or illness, and students who transfer out of our programs. At the University of Waterloo, about 10% of all admitted Waterloo Engineering students do not complete their first term of studies. In other words, we need to be at 110% of our admission targets on June 1st to have the correct number of students on November 1st. This year, we did well. We were at 108% of our admission targets on June 1st. This means that a few of our engineering programs will be slightly over our targets but many will be slightly below our targets.

      We do not disclose AIF and video interview scores to applicants or admitted students. The scores are not meaningful without context. They often vary significantly from one program to the next. Grades play a much more significant role in the assessment of most applicants.


  4. Hello Mr Bishop,

    I am a grade 10 student going into 11 next year. I am wondering what clubs or general EC’s I can do to improve my chances of admission aside from getting a 96-97% average.


    1. We do not look for specific extracurricular activities. We value all extracurricular activities (e.g., clubs, competitions, sports, music, theatre, etc.) and all experiences (e.g., volunteer experience, work experience, leadership experience, etc.). There is no magic formula for receiving an offer of admission to Waterloo Engineering.

      Many of our successful applicants list a variety of extracurricular activities and experiences. However, some of our successful applicants devote most of their time and effort into a single activity or experience. It is also possible for applicants to be successful even if they have not participated in extracurricular activities.

      When assessing applicants, we primarily look at the total time and effort invested in activities and experiences. Skill development (e.g., technical skills, leadership skills, communication skills, etc.) may be a factor in our assessments. For competitions, the level of competition (e.g., local, provincial, national, and international) may be a factor in our assessments. Achievements (e.g., completing a certification program, being selected to represent your school, being selected for a national team, etc.) and awards (e.g., scholarships, placing first in a competition, employee of the month, etc.) may be a factor in our assessments.

      Anything that you would list on a typical résumé as an activity, experience, skill, or achievement should be listed on your Application Information Form (AIF). It is important to remember that we are selecting applicants for co-op programs. We look for applicants that we believe will excel in our co-op programs.


  5. Hi Professor,

    Thanks for the great blog! I’m a prospective Grade 11 going into Grade 12 next year. Ontario is offering students the option to choose either online or in-person learning and students will need to choose starting July 12. I know this might be too early for you to know but is Waterloo Engineering planning on deducting points if students take courses online instead of in-person? This would be really helpful info for making an informed decision come July 12. Thanks for your help!

    Have a great summer.


    1. We do not adjust the grades of courses taken online.

      Many high school students will take online courses as part of their studies in preparation for university. In some school systems, students are required to take online courses to meet all the course requirements for engineering. Many school boards now offer the courses required to apply for engineering in an online form.

      You may find websites or documents online that suggest Waterloo Engineering adjusts the grades of online courses. You may safely ignore these comments. We did not adjust online grades in the previous admission cycles and we have no intention of doing so in future admission cycles.


      1. Thanks for your response sir! Would you happen to know if the Waterloo Math faculty has similar policies as Waterloo Engineering for the online courses?


      2. I cannot comment on the policies used by the Faculty of Mathematics at the University of Waterloo. I can only comment on admissions from the perspective of the Faculty of Engineering.


  6. Hi Professor,

    Thank you for the information! I am a student in Ontario that will be starting grade 12 this fall and I have recently been given a survey to decide whether I shall return to in-person learning or continue online. I read your last comment regarding no adjustments for courses taken online, yet as applications start to come in near the start of next year, what would be the decision if there is a noticeable variance in performance between online and in-person students. Given the circumstance that applicants who took school online consistently have a top 6 average higher than those who took in-person, assessing them equally would be unfair, how would this be handled?


Furthermore, would students who take schooling online and in-person be applied the same adjustment factor from their home school?


    1. Reputable schools and reputable teachers will ensure that the grades of online classes and in-person classes are comparable. For this reason, the situation you have described is a hypothetical one. I have complete confidence that teachers want their students to succeed. Our adjustment factors remove the incentive for systematically inflating grades. The only way for schools to improve admission outcomes is by preparing students better.

      There will always be isolated cases where grades are not a true reflection of an applicant’s abilities. The Engineering Admissions Team uses the Admission Information Form (AIF) and the Online Interview to provide us with other meaningful ways of assessing applicants. Of course, no admissions process is perfect. We are constantly looking at ways to improve the fairness and equity of our admissions process.


  7. Hi Professor, I have a question regarding the faculty of engineering average calculation. I heard from an seminar that the grade 12 average is calculated automatically by a machine. If the student takes a course outside of his/her home school (summer, nigh or private school), the faculty of engineering will deducted 5% of the average, Is it true? Thank you very much


    1. For Ontario Secondary School students, the admission average is calculated using the five required grades and one additional 4U or 4M grade. For the additional grade we use your highest grade not already included in the average. If grades are missing, we predict them using available grade information. For students outside of Ontario, the admission average is calculated using either 5 or 6 courses, depending upon the curriculum and school system attended.

      A 5% adjustment is applied if you repeat a course without explanation. Our past experience has shown conclusively that students who repeat one or more high school courses struggle in our engineering programs. Of course, there are always exceptions. If an applicant has a reasonable explanation for repeating high school courses, the 5% adjustment can be waived. A reasonable explanation might be that an applicant had a documented medical illness during the first attempt.

      Other small adjustments may be applied to ensure fairness. If courses are taken outside normal day school, we reserve the right to apply an adjustment when we feel there is a strong justification for doing so. Such adjustments can occur for courses taken in summer school or night school if there is evidence that this was done to reduce workload and that this resulted in a substantially higher grade. We generally define a substantially higher grade as one that is 10% higher than past performance. The size of the adjustment varies. A 5% adjustment would be unusual for this type of adjustment.

      We also have adjustment factors for schools that may be applied. These adjustment factors are designed to promote fairness in the assessment of our applicants. The adjustment factors take into account past student performance. Fewer than 5% of Ontario Secondary Schools are subject to an adjustment factor.


  8. Hi, Professor Bishop,
    I am a grade 12 visa applicant from BC and I don’t know whether I should apply for Software Engineering this fall or not.
    I have finished four grade 12 courses(all perfect so far) , and I am aiming at around 98.5% by the end of grade 12.
    In terms of my programming skills, I have taken high school CS courses, including CS 9 and 10 with 96% and CS 11 with 98%. Beside, I have taken AP CS exam and got a 5.
    I have about 8 to 10 extracurricular activities, some ranging for over 4 years and some has just started this fall.
    I have taken five AP exams and got five on all of them.
    In terms of math competitions, I only have the 25% certificate from Waterloo contests in grade 9, 10, and 11.
    I understand Software Engineering is the hardest program to be accepted in UWaterloo or even in Canada, and I am very anxious that my profile is really weak and have the feeling that I should not apply for it because of its daunting difficulties.
    Do you think my profile is rather competitive or weak among the SE applicants? Do you think it worth me applying for this competitive program?

    Thank you for reading my concerns, I would value and appreciate your advices, Prof. Bishop.


    1. With a predicted average of 98.5%, you should definitely apply to SE.

      While we did reject a handfull of SE applicants with averages of 98.5% or greater, this was usually due to the fact that these applicants lacked significant evidence of structured programming experience. You clearly have structured programming experience. Your CS courses demonstrate your experience. It also helps that you have done well in AP courses. The lack of top results in competitions is not a significant concern. Some schools prepare students better for competitions than others. This doesn’t necessarily mean that these schools produce better engineers.


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