The Mentorship Spot
Application Tips - Waterloo Engineering
📚 Interested in applying to programs with supplemental applications?
✨ Today, we bring you tips on how to tackle supplemental applications for 1 of Canada’s top engineering programs at UWaterloo!
🤩 These are tips from a current student and their personal tips from when they applied!
Hey! My name is Azhar and I’m a fourth-year Mechatronics Engineering student at the University of Waterloo. There’s a lot of different factors that go into your application to Waterloo. The following tips may be slightly more or less applicable depending on your current grade. Though this post is catered towards my specific program, most of what is written will still apply if you’re considering any of the Waterloo engineering programs. Overall, the earlier you start to think about your application, the better! With that being said, if you’re currently in grade 12 and starting your AIF, hopefully some of the following advice will still be useful for you.
Grades play a significant role in helping you get into Engineering. When I was applying back in 2019, it was common for students to have above a 90% average. However, with the amount of grade inflation after the pandemic, I would not be surprised if the entrance averages are much higher now. Luckily, they will only look at your top six grade 12 grades, but for most engineering programs this would include Advanced Functions, Physics, Chemistry, Calculus and English, so you will only have one course to help boost your average outside of the compulsory courses. I would not recommend doing English (or any compulsory course) in summer school, since Waterloo may deduct some points from your application. They will judge your grade 12 first semester final grades, and your second semester midterm grades since admissions are released in May of your senior year. If your average isn’t quite as high as you’d like, the good news is that you’re also admitted based on your AIF response, extracurriculars, work experience, awards and video interview, so you will still have a chance of getting in.
The AIF has a series of short answer (approx. 150 words) questions. They are engineering related and should be personal to you. For Mechatronics, it would probably be a good idea to talk about any electromechanical applications that interest you (i.e. autonomous cars, prosthetics, etc). Although these are short responses, think long and hard about your answers since this is one of the few areas in your application where you can showcase your interest in engineering.
These include your extracurricular activities, work experience and awards. There is no magic number for how many clubs/teams you should be part of, but in general it’s good to have a variety of different extracurriculars. You don’t have to do engineering related clubs, instead, it matters more that you are passionate about what you’re doing. My main activities were leading the Ski and Snowboard club, doing DECA, and leading a trivia team. It does help to have leadership roles, so the earlier you join a club the better. That way once you get to grade 11/12 you can apply for leadership roles. Volunteering and work experience is also great, especially if you’ve held down a job for an extended period. Academic awards are a plus, but if you don’t have any you can always sign up for a math contest (ideally the ones hosted by Waterloo). I’d recommend doing as many as you can, but if you only want to do a few you can find a list of the ones Waterloo makes online (Euclid is a must if you are in grade 11/12). Since they are extremely difficult, they will only help your AIF no matter what score you received.
The video interview is optional, but it is strongly recommended. With how competitive the application process for Mechatronics has become, it would be unwise not to complete it. Also, from what I know it can add up to a bonus 5 points to your AIF score. They may ask you questions about your extracurricular activities, an engineering-based question, or even a creative question that will force you to think outside the box. It might sound daunting, but the most important part is that you can speak clearly and in full sentences. Nobody is going to give a perfect response, and that’s okay. The main point of the video interview is to ensure that you can formulate a coherent response and answer a question about yourself. So just try to smile and show off your personality. You’d want to dress somewhat formal (I wore a polo), and be in a clean, well-lit environment. There’s a lot of sample questions available online; you can either practice by recording yourself and rewatching it to see how you can improve or answering questions in front of a friend or family member.
Overall, the most important tip I’d give to high school students is to spend as much time as you can on the AIF. Most of the successful candidates begin working on their applications in winter break (or even earlier), so if you’re in grade 11 make sure you’re on top of things next fall! Good luck and all the best in your applications!