As the summer term is coming to an end, students on campus are focusing on their end of term projects, getting ready for final exams, and thinking about co-op starting in the Fall term. However, while we are working hard with school, the Faculty of Engineering and the University as a whole are working to prepare for the new wave of first years that will be entering Waterloo at the beginning of September. Although this is a common practice every summer term, this year it will be special. That is because as of right now, there are over 1600 students who have accepted to join Waterloo Engineering (Compared to the typical 1200-1400 that normally enter).
We spoke with Professor Bill Anderson, the Director of Admissions, to find out what this number represents and why it was larger than in previous years. He explained that when deciding how many students to accept into Waterloo Engineering, the university has an algorithm based on OUAC applications to determine how many students should be accepted into engineering such that when the high school students choose another university, Waterloo still meets their quota.
Even though the number is higher, it does not represent that the students coming in will be of any less calibre as they are right now. That is because the order of acceptances into the engineering program can be at or around 3000 students, many of whom will get accepted to other universities, possibly with other incentives (scholarships, closer to home, friends) and choose not to accept their acceptance to Waterloo.
In June, the number of first years came to over 1600 students, which is spread out among all thirteen disciplines in the faculty (including the School of Architecture). While this number can still fluctuate, since for many of us we were still not 100% on where we wanted to go and students may choose to switch to another university while on their break, Professor Anderson mentioned that traditionally, this does not change by more than a couple percent.
The question you might be asking yourself now is “what does this increase in the number of incoming first year students mean to me?” Firstly, if you are a junior-intermediate co-op student looking for a job in the Winter term, you will have more stream 4 students who will be looking for jobs on their first work term. Similarly, those going to look for a job in the summer term will also have more competition than normal.
This will also affect those who are working with orientation week. With around 200 extra students arriving on campus, there will be a lot more first years in each of the colour groups. Anyone walking around the university the week before classes will notice a lot more white shirts and yellow hard hats running around.
Fitting the students into their classrooms has been another issue that needs to be addressed. I emailed Professor Ajoy Opal, Director of First Year Engineering, about this issue. He mentioned that the first year office has been working to find classrooms that will fit all the incoming students.
Fitting the students is a challenge since so many other classes in the Fall term will have a hundred or more students in them and as such will require large classrooms. There are many courses in the Math, Science and Arts faculty such as Econ 101, Chem 120, and Math 127 that are taken by a number of students in any program as a required first year course. Scheduling has been done in order to accommodate the needs to fit students in all faculties
Another change that the First Year Office has made in order to accomodate the number of incoming students is that the office is increasing the number of TAs hired so that the support needed for the first year students will still be there. The First Year Office will still work to help all students succeed as they go through their first two school terms and work term in the coming year.