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Torn between 2

A photo of k3u k3u
So i've already gotten acceptances to my top 2 choices but i really don't know how to decide. Waterloo has a great reputation, so it'll be easier to get coop placements than if i went to Mac. As well, more of my friends got applied and got into Waterloo so i guess i'll feel a bit more at ease with roommates and whatnot. However, people have been scaring me about how much extra work trying to get a placement is and how it's hell just to get your first one. But after that, you're golden. On the other hand, Mac is more flexible i guess with the coop where it's not mandatory so it's okay if you don't find one. But what is kind of attracting me there is that the campus seems a lot nicer and because they have a business option as well to do my MBA after. I've visited both campuses and it seems that the McMaster one appeals more but maybe other wiser people can give some advice on which to choose? I'm starting to lean towards Waterloo but i'm still unsure.
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A photo of greygoose greygoose
Appearance of the campus should not be a factor, nor should the possibility of an MBA followup. (You know that you should be getting your MBA after a few years of work experience, otherwise it's not worth anything, right?)

Your friends being around shouldn't be, either. People make lots of new friends in university.

I think that Waterloo's engineering program may be (a lot) more work than at some schools, but for that reason it's almost certainly better. But maybe you don't want to work that hard, I don't know.

I should also note that if you do 5-6 co-op work placements, even if it takes a lot of extra effort to get that first one, you'll have a lot more money on hand and you'll have valuable work experience other grads don't have.

The choice is yours, but don't make it based on superficial factors.
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A photo of chatmike chatmike
-______________________- i wrote out such a long response by the time i finished stupid studentawards signed me out and i lost it all. GG. k;ajoghfajdgjpiaghqawf

*sigh*, okay, take two.

I was in your position last year. Mac vs Mech at UW, and i chose Mac.

Bleh, i don't even want to write it all out again. Alright, precis version.

Basically, i assumed the knowledge you'd learn at each of those institutions would be generally the same despite UW having a better reputation. (Which is correct. All accredited engineering schools have a strict list of things that need to be included in the curriculum and there isnt really much flexibility)

UW has higher graduation employment rates then Mac because of co-op and networking opportunities.

You will be in Mechanical Engineering at UW, and general first year at Mac. I found it incredibly stupid you need to choose in grade 12. Grade 12 students have zero, 0, zilch experience in ANY engineering field and are therefore blindly guessing based off of hearsay, 5 second google searches, and parents opinions on different engineering streams. I thought i wanted to be in mechanical because this is all i knew about them "You can make engines and cars and machines and you make good money" Upon going to mac and going through general first year and taking some autocad courses and other mech courses, i thoroughly didn't really enjoy it. It wasn't my thing. I found that i liked other streams better. I'm thinking to apply to either chem and bioengineering, or engineering physics. Radically different streams then mechanical, and i never would have known if i didn't go through general first year.

Now what greygoose said is rather interesting. Most students have vastly polarizing opinions on those secondary factors he mentioned. I for one thought it was worth considering. Why? This university will be your home for the next 4,5, or 6 years. If you don't like your environment, you won't thrive. I for one fell in love with Mac's campus and it really struck a chord with me. Now by all means, that should not be a deciding factor, but if you are tied like i was (1 point for waterloo for employment rates, 1 point for Mac to finding the best field of engineering that suits you) then you can start looking at the lighter things to tip the scale.

And i disagree about the MBA followup. Greygoose, are you telling me if you have two applicants with the exact same degree, the exact same GPA, ECs etc, except one has an MBA and the other doesnt and the employer looks at the pair and says "Oh, you two are exactly equal. But since you have no work experience, i scratched out your MBA on the paper since y'know, its useless" That's just silly. The accelerated MBA is meant so you can get it in one year in grad school instead of two. Its only one more year, does it really matter if you get it now, or 5 years down the road? It really is only a plus in getting you employed <_<
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A photo of WaterfallOfDestiny WaterfallOfDestiny
Look into the courses offered in the programs you're considering. For example, McMaster has a general first year if you're relatively undecided, while Waterloo lets you dive into your program of choice right from the get-go. Maybe one of the programs is better tailored to your interests - but you'll have to do deeper research, such as looking through academic calendars instead of just glossy brochures.

Contrary to greygoose's first statement, I'd argue that the campus environment does matter for some people. I remember visiting Waterloo's campus and knowing that I'd be depressed when surrounded by the brutalist buildings - and a depressed student does not study well. That's not to say appearance is super important, but it does affect your mood when you're spending most of each day on campus.

I noticed that chatmike just commented, and completely agree with him.
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A photo of k3u k3u
Thanks for all the responses so far, I've talked to a lot of my friends in engineering as well and I'm kind of leaning towards UW. Well, for some yes the campus doesn't really matter to them. A school is a school. But for me factors like, school spirit and the whole environment would play a big role in my decision which is why i already visited 3/4 of the universities i applied to. The Waterloo campus is really drab and boring that's true but looking back, Mac isn't some UBC Queen's UWO campus either. Thanks again, i think i have a good idea of where i'm going now but anybody else feel free to help out anyway.
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A photo of greygoose greygoose

@chatmike wrote
And i disagree about the MBA followup. Greygoose, are you telling me if you have two applicants with the exact same degree, the exact same GPA, ECs etc, except one has an MBA and the other doesnt and the employer looks at the pair and says "Oh, you two are exactly equal. But since you have no work experience, i scratched out your MBA on the paper since y'know, its useless" That's just silly. The accelerated MBA is meant so you can get it in one year in grad school instead of two. Its only one more year, does it really matter if you get it now, or 5 years down the road? It really is only a plus in getting you employed <_<



So the thing is, an MBA is mostly useless without a few years of work experience, particularly in management. When you accelerate getting your MBA, to an employer, it looks like you couldn't get hired so you went back to school.

Similarly, just because one dude has a master's and one has a PhD doesn't mean the PhD is going to get hired. There is such a thing as overeducation for a position. If you have a PhD but you're looking at starting positions with no experience, no one wants to hire you because the starting salary is too high for too great a risk.

It isn't so simple as "more accreditations = better job prospects". They have to be appropriate to circumstances.
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A photo of greygoose greygoose

@k3u wrote
Thanks for all the responses so far, I've talked to a lot of my friends in engineering as well and I'm kind of leaning towards UW. Well, for some yes the campus doesn't really matter to them. A school is a school. But for me factors like, school spirit and the whole environment would play a big role in my decision which is why i already visited 3/4 of the universities i applied to. The Waterloo campus is really drab and boring that's true but looking back, Mac isn't some UBC Queen's UWO campus either. Thanks again, i think i have a good idea of where i'm going now but anybody else feel free to help out anyway.



I just think that things like "school spirit" and "pretty buildings" might be important to a high school student, but down the road, you will look back and think "that was a really dumb thing to base my choice of university on". Hell, I got lucky with my choice of Waterloo. I didn't do nearly enough research. And it was the only school I applied to math for. (Everywhere else I applied for science programs, which I suppose could lead to a math major.)

School spirit is a can of worms that is hard to even begin to discuss. But I think people evaluate it in the totally wrong way.

And I like the brutalist buildings. I think they're really majestic and the interiors are rather mysterious. I mean, maybe it's because I grew up near a much uglier university than UW (can you believe that?), but I think the campus is nice, especially in the summer. Not that it's relevant.
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A photo of caveman caveman

@greygoose wrote

@k3u wrote
Thanks for all the responses so far, I've talked to a lot of my friends in engineering as well and I'm kind of leaning towards UW. Well, for some yes the campus doesn't really matter to them. A school is a school. But for me factors like, school spirit and the whole environment would play a big role in my decision which is why i already visited 3/4 of the universities i applied to. The Waterloo campus is really drab and boring that's true but looking back, Mac isn't some UBC Queen's UWO campus either. Thanks again, i think i have a good idea of where i'm going now but anybody else feel free to help out anyway.



I just think that things like "school spirit" and "pretty buildings" might be important to a high school student, but down the road, you will look back and think "that was a really dumb thing to base my choice of university on". Hell, I got lucky with my choice of Waterloo. I didn't do nearly enough research. And it was the only school I applied to math for. (Everywhere else I applied for science programs, which I suppose could lead to a math major.)

School spirit is a can of worms that is hard to even begin to discuss. But I think people evaluate it in the totally wrong way.

And I like the brutalist buildings. I think they're really majestic and the interiors are rather mysterious. I mean, maybe it's because I grew up near a much uglier university than UW (can you believe that?), but I think the campus is nice, especially in the summer. Not that it's relevant.


Good points. Not all of the buildings are ugly as well. One of the new engineering buildings (I don't remember the name) is pretty cool, the SAF building is awesome, if they ever finish the nano building it's going to be great, and the Davis Center is like a McDonald's play center inside. Also the PAC may seem ugly to some people on the outside, but as greygoose may or may not have made reference to, it's a challenge to find your way around in.
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A photo of Vingilot Vingilot
I was about to make a thread like this myself, am equally torn between mac and waterloo. Mac is closer and would cost less personally but I am still debating the merits of each school. +1 and if you want to discuss anything send me a PM! Thanks
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A photo of greygoose greygoose
Cost is definitely a big thing to consider with Waterloo. Though the living costs are low, the tuition is quite high.

In engineering, co-op is mandatory, so you're forced to help yourself with the costs of tuition. Depending on where you work and how much you make, you might end up in less debt (or no debt!) doing a degree at Waterloo, or you may end up with more. Keep in mind that you may not make as much money in McMaster's co-op program (I am not sure what it is like, but it certainly doesn't have the reputation Waterloo's does).

It's a hard choice, and neither is necessarily the "right" one at first glance. Good luck with your admissions and your decisions.
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