Reflections on engineering admissions and engineering life
Author: William Bishop
I grew up in the small town of Welland, Ontario in the heart of the Niagara Peninsula. In my youth, I enjoyed softball, golf, and the uniquely Canadian sport of 5-pin bowling. My high school years were productive. I excelled at my studies and had enough time to devote towards extra-curricular activities to earn a school letter. I was fascinated with computers having owned a Commodore 64 and having maintained a network of Unisys machines running a very early version of QNX at my local high school. I had part-time jobs teaching computer courses to both adults and children at local secondary schools. I worked hard in my final year of high school to excel at the now defunct Descartes math competition and earn a spot in Computer Engineering at the University of Waterloo. Little did I know that I would stay at the university for three degrees and eventually a permanent faculty position. Now, as Director of Admissions for Waterloo Engineering, I hope to share my thoughts on the road towards a career engineering.
My understanding is that the weather forecast is not ideal for the Region of Waterloo tomorrow. For those attending in person, please take appropriate precautions travelling to and from the event. A weather advisory has been issued by the Meteorological Service of Canada that extends from Saturday morning through to Sunday morning. I recommend checking the weather online tomorrow prior to travelling to campus. The University of Waterloo Twitter Feed is often the first social media channel to announce any closures or cancellations affecting our campuses. I do not anticipate that our campus will close.
Applicants and their families are often most excited to meet our students and tour our facilities. We will be offering lab tours to attendees throughout the event. I encourage attendees to make a plan prior to coming to campus. There is quite a bit to see and do. You won’t have time to see the entire campus. For those interested in our engineering programs, you will definitely want to check out our Pearl Sullivan Engineering Ideas Clinic in E7 and our Sedra Student Design Centre in E5.
During the March Break Open House, I am scheduled to deliver presentations in E7 4043 at 10:30 am and 1:30 pm. The presentations are designed to provide prospective applicants with information on admission requirements and the admissions process. The same material will be covered at both presentations. We will setup the neighbouring room in E7 4053 to serve as an overflow room should it be required. E7 4043 only has room for approximately 140 visitors. If you are in the overflow room, we will have a mechanism for you to ask questions during the live presentation. Please note that these presentations are designed for future applicants only. Current applicants will find that their time is better spent on department tours and facility tours.
When I am not delivering presentations, I will be at the Engineering Admissions booth on the second floor of E7 to answer questions. To answer what is likely to be the most popular question, the early admission round will conclude soon. We are currently making early round admission decisions. I am not sure when the results will be communicated. As you can probably imagine, it takes quite a bit of time to process all Admission Information Forms. My team has been working long hours to assess them.
I will leave you with two photographs that I took of the ECE Capstone Design Symposium held this past week. The symposium was well attended. I was thoroughly impressed by the projects and the teams at the symposium.
I look forward to seeing you tomorrow at our March Break Open House!
Our Fall Open House is approaching quickly. This weekend over 5,000 visitors will tour the Faculty of Engineering. Many of these visitors are parents interested in finding out more about our university. For prospective students within driving distance of our school, this is a great opportunity to learn about the programs we offer. You will also get to meet some of our dedicated students, staff, and faculty. Best of all, you can tour our classrooms, labs, workshops, and study spaces.
Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend the Fall Open House this year. I am currently at the airport waiting to fly to Seattle. I will be participating in an event for guidance counsellors that focuses on Studying in Canada. I will also be representing the University of Waterloo at the NACAC Seattle National College Fair. This is a two day event that attracts thousands of local high school students.
For students in the greater Seattle area, the NACAC Seattle National College Fair is an opportunity to learn about studying at the University of Waterloo. I will attempt to answer questions on all programs that our university offers. Having studied and worked at the university for more than half of the years it has existed, I have a reasonably good understanding of most programs that we offer. Thankfully, I have materials to help me answer the hard questions.
I sometimes get asked why we recruit in Seattle. The answer is simple. We attract some excellent students from the region. We have also been making an effort to recruit from regions in the U.S. where our co-op students work. In these regions, our university is recognized as one that educates some of the best university students.
We attract both domestic and international students from the greater Seattle area. It is not uncommon for an alumnus to drop by our booth with a son or daughter interested in returning to study in Canada. Approximately 50% of the students we recruit from the U.S. pay domestic fees and are considered domestic students. Students pay domestic fees if they are a Canadian or permanent resident OR if they are dependent upon a Canadian or permanent resident.
I look forward to meeting excited applicants and some old friends on my recruiting trip. I will try to post a few photos of the trip when I return next week.
Our recruiting cycle for Fall 2023 has begun. We have started receiving inquiries from prospective applicants regarding Waterloo Engineering. If you are a Grade 11 or Grade 12 student interested in attending an Ontario university in Fall 2023 or Fall 2024, plan to attend the upcoming Ontario Universities’ Fair to learn more about the University of Waterloo and its programs. This year, the Ontario Universities’ Fair will be held in-person at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. For those unable to attend the in-person event, there will be three virtual sessions held on October 11th, November 9th, and December 1st that may interest you.
It is once again time for my most popular blog post of the year. In this blog post, I will attempt to answer the question:
As I have pointed out in previous years, this is a difficult question to answer since every applicant is different. When selecting applicants that are likely to succeed in our undergraduate engineering programs, grades remain a significant consideration. Excellent grades in high school can be a strong indicator of future success in university. However, grades are not the only consideration.
Our admissions process uses several assessment tools to select applicants. We require all applicants to complete an Admission Information Form (AIF) which we use to assess skills, employment experience, volunteer service, course work, extracurricular activities, and notable achievements. We strongly recommend all applicants complete an optional online interview which we use to assess motivation and resilience. Interview scores are used to assess applicants for certain entrance scholarships. Our assessment tools help us gauge applicant interest in our programs and applicant fit for our programs.
We assess all applicants that we believe are potentially admissible. For our engineering programs, applicants are required to have an admission average of 85% with no grades lower than 70% in any of our required courses in their final year of high school. We then use a combination of the admission average with our other assessment tools to individually select applicants. Students with higher admission averages are more likely to be selected for admission but they are not guaranteed to be selected for admission. Our assessment tools give applicants with lower admission averages a chance to compete for spaces in our engineering programs.
Using the Ontario Secondary School applicant data for the Fall 2022 admission cycle, I have produced two graphs that show the probability of an Ontario Secondary School (OSS) applicant receiving an offer of admission to undergraduate engineering programs at the University of Waterloo. I have grouped our engineering programs as follows:
OSS Tier 1: Biomedical and Software
OSS Tier 2: Computer, Electrical, Mechanical, Mechatronics, and Systems Design
These groupings are the same as the previous four admission cycles. Clearly, not all programs grouped together have exactly the same admission offer probabilities. Groupings are necessary for the purpose of a statistically significant analysis.
The first graph summarizes the probability of receiving an admission offer for Canadians and permanent resident students applying from the Ontario Secondary School system given a particular admission average. The vertical axis represents the admission probability and the horizontal axis represents an applicant’s admission average. The admission average is calculated using the grades reported by OUAC. The admission averages are shown prior to the application of adjustments.
The graph is similar to the ones from previous years. The admission averages have continued to increase. We had more OSS applicants last year and the grades of applicants tended to be higher than previous years. Fewer applicants with averages in the 85% to 90% range are receiving offers of admission. Inflation appears to be a problem that is affecting more than just the economy. Last year, 477 applicants to Waterloo Engineering from the Ontario Secondary School system had averages of 98% or greater at the time of admission consideration. We only allow students to apply to one Waterloo Engineering program so this means at least 477 high school students in Ontario had averages of 98% or greater last year.
The second graph summarizes the probability of receiving an admission offer for visa students applying from the Ontario Secondary School system given a particular admission average. I was very hesitant to post this graph this year as we did not have enough data to produce a meaningful result. The vertical axis represents the admission probability and the horizontal axis represents an applicant’s admission average. The admission averages are shown prior to the application of adjustments.
Waterloo Engineering attracts a very small number of visa applicants from the Ontario Secondary School system. The graph exhibits some clear artifacts due to the lack of sufficient data. In general, one should assume that all admission probabilities increase as admission averages increase. Demand for qualified visa applicants continues to outpace the supply of qualified visa applicants.
I used the same approach this year as I did in the previous year. It is important to remember that these graphs may not accurately predict the Fall 2023 admission cycle. In any given year, admission probabilities may increase or decrease. A drop in applicants can cause probabilities to increase. A surge in applicants can cause probabilities to decrease. Applicants should not read too much into the admission probability graphs. If you are truly interested in a program, you should apply.
Now that the application deadline has officially passed, I can confirm that we received a total of 14,548 applications for admission to undergraduate programs in the Faculty of Engineering. There are a total of 257 applicants that appear twice in the count. This happens when an applicant applies to both the architecture program and an engineering program. Some architecture applicants, but not all, apply to engineering programs. Applicants are not allowed to submit applications to two or more engineering programs at the University of Waterloo. This means that there are 14,291 individuals who have applied to one (or more) of our programs.
I have also received the official undergraduate intake targets for the Fall 2022 admission cycle. Table 1 summarizes the new admit targets for the Fall 2022 admission cycle.
Systems Design Engineering
Table 1: New Admit Targets for Fall 2022
Intake targets should not be confused with class sizes. The number of students enrolled in our first year programs will often be slightly larger than the intake targets. There are some students who are required to repeat first year. However, our class sizes often differ from the number of students enrolled. Some departments blend students from several programs in first year classes and some departments subdivide classes into separate co-op streams in first year. There is also the practical issue of admitting the right number of applicants to achieve the intake targets. These issues can lead to our class sizes being smaller or larger than the intake targets. In first year, typical class sizes in our engineering programs range from 80 students to 140 students.
Intake targets can be controversial. We have some programs that are in very high demand and other programs where demand is lower. I often get asked why we do not increase the targets for high demand programs. There are many factors that affect the intake targets. Some of the important factors include the following:
Availability of qualified instructors
Availability of support staff
Lab room capacities
Long range plans
Government grant funding
Co-op employment opportunities
Post-graduation employment opportunities
Effects on other programs
No significant changes were made to our intake targets for this admission cycle. No new programs were added. No existing programs were removed. Small changes were made to the targets for Biomedical Engineering and Systems Design Engineering in an effort to ensure that the first year classes in these programs do not exceed 100 students.
I am sure that many of my blog readers would like to know exactly how many applicants applied to each program. This is not information that I feel comfortable sharing. There are a number of reasons for my reluctance:
Applicants should always apply to programs based on their interests, not based on their likelihood of receiving an admission offer.
Application numbers are not a good indication of the competitiveness of a program. A program with 100 strong applicants may be more competitive than a program with 200 applicants.
Some applicants will withdraw their applications between now and our final admission round in May. This may happen when an applicant receives an offer to another university that they prefer to attend. It can also happen for other reasons such as an illness delaying completion of high school degree requirements.
Some applicants will not complete the Admission Information Form by the deadline. These applicants are removed from the applicant pool.
On the subject of the Admission Information Form, February 18th is the hard deadline for submitting the Admission Information Form for applicants who have applied to undergraduate engineering programs. I just wanted to remind our applicants of the importance of completing the Admissions Information Form (AIF) on time. Every year, we have a handful of applicants that miss submitting the Admissions Information Form (AIF) by the deadline. Applicants who do not submit the Admission Information Form (AIF) are not be eligible for admission. If you have not already submitted the form, I encourage you to do so soon. You do not want to risk missing the deadline due to a computer problem or unexpected illness.
I will leave you with an image of South Campus Hall at the University of Waterloo. I took this photo about a week ago on a day when the sun was shining. It shows the welcome sign that faces University Avenue as you enter the campus. I have no doubt that many of our undergraduate students saw this sign for their first time this past week as in-person classes resumed on campus.
The holidays are now over for most of us. Application deadlines are approaching quickly. We now have enough application data that I can provide a quick update on Engineering Admissions for those who are interested.
The general trend has been that domestic applications have been strong this year. We have received more domestic applications this year than we did at the end of the admissions cycle two years ago in 2020. However, we have not yet exceeded our record breaking year in 2021. There is a good chance that we will approach the numbers we saw in 2021 for domestic applications. As you might expect, a greater percentage of our domestic applicants are students from Ontario. Out-of-province applications have been coming in slower this year.
It does not surprise me that out-of-province students are a bit more reluctant to apply to study in Ontario this year. Our province has been dealing with waves of COVID-19 cases and we have a vaccine mandate in place that makes our university unattractive to some applicants. Also, our classes are currently online while some universities in the U.S. and elsewhere are offering in-person classes. It is hoped that we will be able to resume in-person classes soon. We were able to offer some in person classes and tutorials in Fall 2021. Right now, we must heed the advice of our medical professionals who have clearly told us that our hospitals are operating at capacity. I have tremendous respect for our medical professionals. They have been working under very difficult circumstances and they deserve recognition of their efforts. They haven’t had any chance to recover from the previous surges and many of them are dealing with family members, friends, and coworkers who are ill. Let’s hope that things improve soon.
Our international applicants will be happy to know that international applications are down sharply this year. We may eventually reach the application numbers that we achieved in 2020. We will definitely not approach the application numbers we achieved in 2021. There are many factors that could be contributing to the drop in international applications. Certainly, it is more difficult to recruit international students when travel is not possible. One-on-one meetings with potential applicants are the best way to encourage students to apply. Also, the University of Waterloo usually benefits from media stories about the success of our students in international competitions. The ongoing pandemic has limited in-person competition involvement at the international level.
There may be many other factors at play. Many Canadian universities and colleges rely upon international students to address budget shortfalls when domestic tuition is capped. Waterloo Engineering has tried to avoid this trend by maintaining stable international student targets at a level below 15% of our student body. A blog post by Alex Usher at Higher Education Strategy Associates provides some interesting insight into international student numbers. It is worth a careful read as it provides graphs that clearly show the increasing percentage of international students at universities and colleges across Canada. For engineering programs, it is typical for international students to represent 25% of the student body.
You might be curious how these application numbers affect you:
If you are a domestic applicant, nothing has changed. Many of our engineering programs have competitive applicant pools. Applicants to these engineering programs will be individually selected for admission. You will need to ensure that you put time and effort into the completion of your Admission Information Form. I highly recommend completing the Online Interview to improve your admission chances.
If you are an international applicant, your chances of being admitted are slightly better this year than last year. Make sure you have completed your application. We can only admit students with complete applications. Applicants who do not submit their Admission Information Form cannot be considered. Also, monitor your e-mail regularly to check for inquiries from our Admissions Officers. Sometimes, they will reach out to international applicants for additional information needed to process an application.
If you are a prospective applicant, it is a better year to apply than last year. To apply, visit the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre. We are still accepting applications until February 1st. If you are a prospective international applicant, this admission cycle might offer an excellent opportunity to gain admission to Waterloo Engineering. This is particularly true for some of our engineering programs with less competitive application pools.
I unfortunately will not be able to respond to specific questions about the competitiveness of individual programs at this time. Our Engineering Admissions Team is working very hard to ensure that our admissions process goes smoothly this year. I realize many applicants have anxiety about the admissions process. Having a better estimate of your chances will not reduce your anxiety, unfortunately. The only resolution is receiving an offer of admission. Many applicants will have a resolution at the end of March 2021 when we send out our first round of admission offers for Waterloo Engineering.
It is once again time for my most popular blog post of the year. In this blog post, I will attempt to answer the question:
As I have pointed out in previous years, this is never an easy question to answer since every applicant is different. For the purpose of selecting applicants that are likely to succeed in our undergraduate engineering programs, grades remain the most important consideration. Excellent grades in high school can be a strong indicator of future success in university. However, grades should not be the only consideration.
Our admissions process examines many other factors when selecting our applicants. We require all applicants to complete an admission information form which we use to assess skills, employment experience, volunteer service, course work, extracurricular activities, and notable achievements. We also strongly recommend that all applicants complete an online interview. While the interview process is optional for the purpose of admission consideration, it is a requirement for entrance scholarship consideration. Through the admission information form and the online interview, we are able to better understand the qualifications of an applicant and the challenges faced by the applicant. Our assessments also help us gauge an applicant’s level of interest in our programs and an applicant’s level of fit for our programs.
We assess all applicants that meet our minimum entrance grade requirements. For our engineering programs, applicants are required to have an admission average of 85% with no grades lower than 70% in any of our required courses in their final year of high school. In this sense, grades qualify an applicant for admission. We then use a combination of the admission average with our other assessment tools to individually select applicants. Students with higher admission averages are more likely to be selected for admission but they are not guaranteed to be selected for admission. The admission information form and the online interview give applicants with lower grades a chance to compete for coveted spaces in our engineering programs.
Using the Ontario Secondary School applicant data for the Fall 2021 admission cycle, I have produced two graphs that show the probability of an Ontario Secondary School (OSS) applicant receiving an offer of admission to undergraduate engineering programs at the University of Waterloo. I have grouped our engineering programs as follows:
Biomedical and Software
Computer, Electrical, Mechanical, Mechatronics, and Systems Design
Architectural, Chemical, Civil, Environmental, Geological, Management, and Nanotechnology
These groupings are the same as the previous three admission cycles. Clearly, not all programs grouped together have exactly the same admission offer probabilities. I did consider alternative groupings. My analysis of individual program data showed that the programs in these groupings continue to behave similarly.
The first graph summarizes the probability of an admission offer for Canadians and permanent residents applying from the Ontario Secondary School system given a particular admission average. The vertical axis represents the admission probability and the horizontal axis represents an applicant’s admission average. The admission average is calculated using the grades reported by OUAC. It has not been adjusted in any way.
While the graph resembles the one from last year, there are two noticeable differences. First, the admission averages are slightly higher. While some might quickly argue that this is compelling evidence of grade inflation, it is important to note that we also had a record number of applicants to our undergraduate engineering programs last year. Second, the shape of the curve for Architectural, Chemical, Civil, Environmental, Geological, Management, and Nanotechnology is different. Due to the fact that admission averages shifted upwards, the slope of the curve is steeper. While it is still possible for applicants with averages between 85% to 90% to be admitted to our undergraduate engineering programs, applicants have a much higher probability of success with an average of 90% or greater. It is not clear if this trend will continue into the next admission cycle.
The second graph summarizes the probability of an admission offer for visa students applying from the Ontario Secondary School system given a particular admission average. The vertical axis represents the admission probability and the horizontal axis represents an applicant’s admission average. The admission average is calculated using the grades reported by OUAC. It has not been adjusted in any way.
This graph is noisy due to the small sample size. The data appears to suggest that an applicant to Civil Engineering with an 85% admission average has a higher probability of success than an applicant with an 88% admission average. In general, one should assume that admission probabilities increase as admission averages increase. Overall, the admission offer probabilities for visa students increased again this past year. Visa students compete for a small number of reserved spaces in our programs. Due to the global pandemic, there were fewer qualified visa applicants. I expect this trend to continue into the foreseeable future as demand for qualified visa students at Canadian universities continues to outpace the supply of qualified visa students.
I used a slightly different approach from the one I used last year to produce these graphs. I used the built-in curve fitting of Microsoft Excel. This approach should allow me to produce comparable graphs next year in less time.
It is important to remember that these graphs may not accurately predict the Fall 2022 admission cycle. There are many questions that are difficult to answer this year:
Will applicant numbers continue to remain strong?
Will admission targets remain the same as last year?
Will the pandemic cause applicants to reconsider pursuing a university education?
Applicants should not attempt to not read too much into the admission probability graphs. The data can be scary if you don’t fully understand it. Some applicants did not complete the required admission information form or attempt the optional interview. Some applicants to Software Engineering were not admitted for not having any evidence of structured programming experience. Some applicants withdrew their application for admission prior to an offer being granted. If I eliminated applicants with incomplete applications or withdrawn applications from the data set, the admission probabilities would improve dramatically.
This is a quick reminder that students who have been admitted to undergraduate programs in the Faculty of Engineering still have time to complete an Admission Deferral Request Form to defer the start date of their program until September 2022. Admission Deferral Request Forms will be accepted until August 14, 2021 at 4:00 pm.
There are many ramifications to requesting an admission deferral. Here are a few things you should know if you are considering requesting an admission deferral:
Deferrals are automatically granted for 1 year provided that all Grade 12 courses have been completed in the past two years. Requests for a deferral of more than 1 year are considered on a case-by-case basis. For example, admission can be deferred by 2 years or 3 years to allow for compulsory military service, participation in extracurricular activities, or compassionate leave on a case-by-case basis. In the very rare occurrence of a 3 year deferral, students may be required to retake one or more Grade 12 courses in preparation for university.
Some scholarships may not be deferred. President’s Scholarships and Merit Scholarships are automatically deferred. Other entrance scholarships are not always eligible for a deferral. Prior to requesting a deferral, you should contact Student Awards and Financial Aid (SAFA) at email@example.com to find out whether your entrance scholarships can be deferred.
During a deferral, students agree to not enroll in post-secondary courses at any institution. Enrolling in a post-secondary course (in-person or online) voids your offer of admission unless prior permission has been granted. Students wishing to enroll in a post-secondary course during their deferral should first contact the Registrar’s Office to ask for special permission to do so. Approval is done on a case-by-case basis. Enrolling in high school courses is generally permitted.
Students that defer their start date will be permitted to enroll in the engineering program for which they were admitted. No re-application is necessary. Students on a deferral simply need to log into their Quest account prior to April 1st, 2022 to accept or decline their deferred admission offer.
We do not have the ability to allow deferred students to directly transfer into other engineering programs of their choosing. Students wishing to transfer engineering programs can withdraw their acceptance and apply for a new program of study through OUAC. We do not penalize students for withdrawing and applying to a new program.
For information on residence deposits paid to reserve a Fall 2021 residence, students are encouraged to contact Campus Housing.
In the Fall 2021 academic term, some courses will be delivered in-person, some courses will be delivered using a combination of in-person delivery and online delivery, and some courses will be entirely online. By the Winter 2022 academic term, we expect all core engineering courses to be delivered in-person. Plans are subject to change as deemed necessary. The University of Waterloo is working closely with the Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services to keep our university community safe.
I will end this blog post by extending my heartfelt congratulations to all recipients of Sandford Fleming Foundation medals during our recent virtual convocation ceremonies. Co-operative Proficiency medals are awarded to the top student in each stream of a program based on a score that combines work term evaluations and grades in upper-year course work. Academic Excellence Award medals are awarded to the top student in each stream of a program based on a score for grades in upper-year course work. These recipients exemplify what it means to be an exceptional co-op student. An image of a Sandford Fleming Foundation Academic Excellence Award medal is shown below:
The Sandford Fleming Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that supports engineering education on campus. The foundation relies upon endowed funds and an optional student fee to ensure that engineering students have access to enrichment activities. In addition to scholarships and awards, the Sandford Fleming Foundation supports provincial and national engineering competitions, student travel for educational exchanges and international competitions, and other student-led initiatives.
We are very proud of our recent graduates and we wish them all the best in their future endeavours.
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.
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…
We have finally reached the end of March. I have just received word that all early round admission offers have been processed for engineering programs at the University of Waterloo. This includes both NOSS (105) applicants and OSS (101) applicants. Congratulations to all of the applicants who received early round admission offers!
I also wish to congratulate our admissions team on completing the early round of admissions on schedule despite very difficult circumstances. The admissions team has been working remotely since last March. The team has been working some very long hours to ensure that we could finish on time. When working off-campus, members of our team have slower and less reliable connections to our university computers which can make our work more challenging. It is also more difficult to quickly meet to discuss applications.
If you are an applicant that has not yet received an offer of admission, you are likely disappointed and perhaps a bit surprised. It is important to remember that approximately 50% of our available spaces are filled in our final round of admission. It is quite normal for many highly qualified applicants to not receive offers of admission during our early round. During our final round of admission in mid-May, many applicants will be offered admission to their programs of choice. We will also consider applicants for their alternate choice programs during our final round of admission.
Often applicants ask why they did not receive an offer of admission. In most cases, the answer is simply that we have large applicant pools filled with highly qualified students. We simply do not have enough spaces available to offer all qualified applicants early acceptance into our programs. In a few cases, we may be waiting on updated grade information or a language proficiency test score to make an informed assessment. There were many outstanding applicants that did not receive an early offer of admission.
Applicants should keep in mind that it does not matter when you receive an offer of admission. The only advantage to being selected early is that it alleviates some stress. All admitted students are considered for scholarships during our final admission round.
I will leave you today with a photo of some early flowers in my garden. We have had an early Spring in Kitchener/Waterloo and it is starting to show.
Today (Friday, February 19, 2021) is the last day to submit your Admission Information Form to complete your application to the Faculty of Engineering for undergraduate admission in Fall 2021. Make sure that all sections of the form have been completed and submitted. The Admission Information Form is a required part of the application process. Applicants who do not complete and submit the Admission Information Form will be denied an offer of admission.
Applicants will not have the ability to submit the Admission Information Form late. A planned update to our systems is scheduled for tomorrow so our systems will be offline for maintenance this weekend. We will do our final update of our AIF database on Monday in preparation for our early round of admission in late March.
Every year, we receive several inquiries from applicants who unfortunately have missed the AIF submission deadline. Unless there exist well-documented extenuating circumstances such as a prolonged medical illness that prevented an applicant from completing the form, we cannot accommodate requests to submit the Admission Information Form after the official deadline. Such cases are extremely rare.