All admission decisions have been made for Fall 2019 for Waterloo Engineering. By now, all applicants should know if they have been offered admission to Waterloo Engineering and they should know if they are receiving scholarships. If you are an applicant, hopefully you have received very good news. We are currently preparing for You@Waterloo Day being held this Saturday. Our welcome banner has already been hung on South Campus Hall to welcome our future warriors.
The process of selecting students is incredibly difficult. This is especially true for Waterloo Engineering since we do not simply use a cut-off system where top averages are selected for admission without consideration of other factors. Much time was spent reviewing Admission Information Forms and online video interviews in an effort to find exceptional future students.
By February 20th, we had received over 11,289 applications to just 1,699 available spaces. In other words, we had 6.6 applications per available space. For high demand programs such as Software Engineering, the competition was fierce. As an example, we had 9.4 applications per available domestic space in Software Engineering and 30.4 applications per available visa space in Software Engineering. We had 124 available spaces in Software Engineering and 198 applicants with averages in excess of 97.0% this year. For Software Engineering, programming experience was an important consideration for admission this year. Successful Software Engineering applicants often had several years of practical programming experience, knowledge of several programming languages, and a track record of success in programming.
The final round selection process took about two weeks from start to finish. This time was necessary to perform individual selection in highly competitive programs such as Software Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Mechatronics Engineering. The total time was slightly longer than it was supposed to take but quite reasonable given the large number of applications to consider for each program. I recognize that delays increase the stress of applicants, their families, and the many staff members working in admission roles. It is certainly not our intention to induce stress. I would like to thank everyone for their patience throughout the admission process.
Now that our difficult decisions have been made, applicants face a June 3rd deadline for making their difficult decisions. I am sure that some applicants and their families are very concerned about making the right decision. The important thing to remember is that you can’t really make a terrible decision with respect to attending university for engineering programs. All engineering schools in the Province of Ontario have accredited programs. Regardless of which engineering school you attend, you will get a great education. Regardless of which engineering program you choose, you will have great career prospects. There really is no wrong decision to make in most cases with one possible exception…
If you already know that the program you have been offered is not a good fit for you, don’t accept the offer! Accepting an offer to a program you are unhappy taking will only lead to a year of misery and likely very few options at the end of the year. If accepting an offer of admission to a program does not excite you in any way, don’t accept the offer. You need to be motivated to succeed in a university program, particularly an engineering program. The workload is much higher in university and there are many demands on your time. If you do not enjoy some portion of the work you will be doing, you will not do well.
If you are undecided on whether you will like the program you have been offered, don’t worry! Choosing the wrong university or the wrong university program is a mistake that can be fixed with some hard work. The consequences are reversible so you should not fear making a poor decision. At most, you might spend one year of your life realizing that another path is a better one for you. In fact, you might even learn some valuable skills along the way. A few of our future warriors initially chose a different path but they have been accepted (a year later) to pursue Waterloo Engineering starting in the Fall. So relax, take some time to think about it, and know that whatever choice you make with respect to university programs, it will likely be okay.
One thing to keep in mind is that once you choose a university program, transferring into another university program is not always an easy process. You will need to get good marks (80% or greater) in your current program and you will need to be willing to start over. Transferring into engineering from another faculty can be a difficult challenge. Some applicants mistakenly believe that they will be able to easily transfer into a different program if they make the “wrong” choice. Transfers are difficult, but not impossible, to obtain. Obviously, transfers into high demand programs such as Software Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, or Mechatronics Engineering are extremely rare.
Rather than transfer programs, a better approach is to customize your university program to your liking. Most university programs offer access to elective courses, options, and minors that allow you to specialize in other areas while completing your major. For example, you do not need to be a Software Engineer to study programming. In fact, many of our engineering students have programming duties in their co-op jobs, regardless of their chosen discipline. You do not need to be a Management Engineer to study management sciences. You simply need to have a desire to learn the topic and a schedule that fits the classes you wish to take. Before giving up on a program, think about ways you might be able to make it work.
In the media, you often read simplistic advice that suggests you should follow your passion. While there is some truth to this message, it is important to realize that what people really mean is that you should choose a path that allows you to pursue your passion. You do not need to be passionate about everything you do in life to be successful. You just need to pursue a path that allows you to do the things you are passionate about and that the positives outweigh the negatives. You won’t like every class you take in university. You won’t like every aspect of your co-op job. But if doing a few things you dislike will allow you to do the things you are passionate about, you will always find a way to succeed.
Sometimes, students ask me why we don’t teach how to write computer games or mobile application development as a core part of Computer Engineering. My response is always the same…
At university, we teach you the things you need to study that you wouldn’t otherwise study. We need to teach you Calculus and Physics because these subjects are important and I know very few Computer Engineering students who would willingly rush home at night to study these subjects. I do know many Computer Engineering students who willingly self-study writing computer games or mobile application development. The role of a university program is to ensure that you receive the breadth and depth of education necessary to succeed in life. We teach you the things you need to know that you don’t already know or can’t easily learn elsewhere. It won’t always be fun but it will always be educational.
Tomorrow, I will be on campus for You@Waterloo Day to answer your questions. For our future warriors, you might want to know that our W Store which sells university apparel will be open from Noon to 4:00 pm. It will be a great opportunity to have your parents buy you a hoodie, a pair of track pants, and a backpack for the Fall term. Also, don’t forget to check out our residences so that you can decide how to prioritize your residence selection. I look forward to seeing some of you tomorrow.